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Adding Meta tag (noindex) for google bots only

 5:36 am on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi folks,

Is adding a meta tag of noindex for google bots only considered cloaking?

We want to add this for our search results page, but only when there are no results to show, so that google does not index those no result pages. However we do not want to add this for users also, the reason being, this will break progressive rendering. i.e We have to wait sending any bytes (like Header, top navigation links etc) to the browser until we make a search on our index and it returns 0 results. The time to first byte for users will increase and this will result in poor site speed.

However we can wait for the search to complete for bots as we can be afford to be slower on site speed front for bots.

Is adding the meta tag only for users considered cloaking by google? I listened to what Matt Cutts had to say on the webmaster tools. It sounded to me that it has to be visually the same. He talks about the hash of content being the same for bots and users. However he also mentioned that it is OK to have javascript enabled content for users, which surely means the hash would be different. He also mentioned that the content can be different based on GEO, i.e having French based content for a user coming from France vs English content for google bot. (in which case the hash would be surely different).

Also curious as to how google validates the Meta tag difference - if it is indeed considered as cloaking?



 7:12 am on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't want to index search results pages anyway. Or, at least, they say they don't. Go to gwt and feed it the full list of parameters used by your site search.


 7:38 am on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure they do.


The top results are all Search results pages (one way or other)


 10:31 am on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Doesn't sound like you'd be dinged for this. The pages with no results would otherwise be flagged as "soft 404" pages, so you're right to take some sort of action to keep the content from being cataloged.

Whether this is the "best" way is a whole other question.


 12:06 pm on Nov 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

welcome to WebmasterWorld, chiru!

make your search faster.

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