Everyone handling an SEO campaign must have already heard from Google. Digital marketers, SEO specialists and basically every individual who has access to Google Search Console were notified by Google to start removing noindex directives from robots.txt files.
Effective September 1, 2019, all noindex directives must have already been taken out. Google already declared this upcoming change back in July. If you have not heard from them yet, then let this article serve as heads-up.
Should you care about this?
Of course, you should. If you care about your SERP rankings, then you should. Noindex directives basically tell Google not to crawl a particular page on your website. If you have a hidden page, that could work to your advantage.
But come September 1, if you fail to remove noindex statements on your robots.txt file, you will only confuse Google crawlers. The new crawling system, according to reports, will index every page on your website, including tho9gyse that you hid through noindex. The noindex statements may be ignored but, considering this is a new update, there is no knowing how much it will affect your website rankings in the event you fail to remove it.
That is why it is important to implement the necessary changes early on. Crawl-delay or nofollow commands may be better alternatives. Explore other methods so you can continue hiding page(s) without depending on noindex statements.
Rest assured, there are plenty of alternatives out there. Granted, it is the most effective method for hiding URLs from Google crawlers, hiding a page can be done in many ways and not just through noindex.
Below is a list of options for your consideration:
(1) Hide your page behind a protected username and password. Google will automatically not crawl login pages.
(2) Remove a URL from your website through the Search Console Remove URL tool. It allows you to temporarily block the URL from appearing on search engine results pages.
(3) Use Disallow commands instead. This directive prevents Google from seeing and crawling a page. If the URL in question appears on pages outside of your domain, Google will still crawl it. However, its overall visibility will greatly decline.
(4) Status codes 404 and 410 HTTPs may also work. They tell Google that a particular page is non-existent. Once the search engine processes this information, it will stop crawling your page.
(5) Adding noindex directives on the metatag section instead of the robots.txt file.
The sooner, the better. Also, you can streamline your website by weeding out pages that you no longer need. Adjunct pages that only take up space or could put your website rankings in jeopardy may need to be removed ASAP.
If you think such pages can still be of use in the future, then you can use any of the noindex alternatives listed above.
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Article originally posted on Search Engine Land.