Google’s Response to the Use of Noindex for Sitelink Changes

2 min read

John Mueller from Google responded to a query on Reddit regarding the acceptability of implementing a no-index tag on a webpage to prevent it from appearing in sitelinks.

Sitelinks are a set of grouped links that appear in search results from a single domain, typically displayed when a user searches for the name or URL of a website.

In this particular case, the sitelinks for a real estate website featured a link to one of the real estate agent’s webpages.

The individual who posed the question believed that Google should be able to select a more crucial page for display in the sitelinks.

Their intended course of action was to employ the “noindex” directive on the real estate agent’s webpage. However, they expressed concerns.

The question they raised was as follows:

“Is ‘noindex’ an effective method for removing a page from sitelinks in search results?

It should be a feature in the web console. Specifically, one of the real estate agent’s pages is included in the website’s sitelinks, whereas several other pages, such as ‘About ” should ideally be featured instead. Should I temporarily ‘noindex’ the agent’s page to exclude it from the sitelinks?”

John Mueller provided the following response:

“I suspect (computers can sometimes behave unpredictably, so no promises :-)) That would occur in that we would remove it from indexing while ‘noindex’ is in effect, and it would return to its original state when the ‘noindex’ directive is removed.

We wouldn’t interpret a temporary ‘noindex’ as indicating that you consider the page slightly less valuable. It’s a binary distinction between indexable or not, and the ranking aspect remains separate from indexing.”

Using a Noindex Tag to Eliminate a Webpage from Sitelinks

A noindex meta tag operates as a directive, compelling search engines to adhere to the specified request.

In the context of a meta noindex tag, this translates to search engines being mandated to exclude a webpage from their index. This strategy of employing a noindex tag to remove a page from sitelinks is, in fact, the recommended approach, according to Google.

Google’s sitelinks documentation suggests the following:

“If you wish to remove a sitelink, consider removing the page from the website or using the noindex directive.”


Indexing and Ranking Are Distinct Processes


Search engines comprise various components that operate independently.

In straightforward terms, there exists an indexing engine responsible for tasks such as web crawling and gathering website content for potential inclusion in the search engine’s index. Googlebot is a notable part of this indexing engine.

Concurrently, there is a ranking engine responsible for determining the order in which search results are shown.

A patent illustration from roughly a decade ago, titled “Ranking Search Results,” introduces an invention known as a Modification Engine. The accompanying system screenshot depicts the separation of the Indexing Engine and Ranking Engine, highlighting their distinct roles.

This alignment aligns with the statement made by John Mueller:

“…the ranking side is separate from the indexing.”


Why Does Google Display Less Favorable Pages in Sitelinks?


Google provides a series of steps publishers can follow to prevent the inclusion of less desirable pages in sitelinks. The official sitelinks documentation offers the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure the text used for page titles and headings is informative, relevant, and concise.
  2. Establish a logical site structure that is user-friendly and ensure that critical pages are linked to other relevant pages.
  3. Maintain concise and contextually relevant anchor text for internal links.
  4. Minimize content repetitions.

It’s worth exploring the possibility that Google features the real estate agent webpage in sitelinks because it aligns with user search behavior. This would be the first aspect to investigate.

If you still need help with complexity and confusion, we invite you to explore our monthly SEO packages, where our team of experts can provide valuable assistance.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]