Tricky - External link on page with Noindex/Follow status still counts

by nik0 Banned 11 replies
If I set my categories / date archives to Noindex / Follow with Yoast.

Do the external links on these category pages still pass juice / count?

Kind of odd situation as the page doesn't exist in Google's index but the "follow" part seems to indicate that the links are still followed, right?

In other words noindexing a page to reduce links per domains is kind of useless, it seems it's only use is then to reduce amount of thin pages so to say.
#search engine optimization #counts #external #link #noindex or follow #page #status #tricky
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  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

    If I set my categories / date archives to Noindex / Follow with Yoast.

    Do the external links on these category pages still pass juice / count?

    Kind of odd situation as the page doesn't exist in Google's index but the "follow" part seems to indicate that the links are still followed, right?

    In other words noindexing a page to reduce links per domains is kind of useless, it seems it's only use is then to reduce amount of thin pages so to say.
    Yes a page with a robots meta tag noindex,follow passes link benefit to pages linked to aslong as they don't have a rel="nofollow" attribute.

    It's all in the name, noindex, it's not nospider :-)

    The links to the noindex category are still followed by Google, so Google spiders your noindex categories, Googlebot 'sees' all the content on the page etc... including the links.

    All noindex does is tell a search engine not to index the page and what that means is if the page would have been found for a SERP it probably** won't show up.

    ** There's an exception where noindex pages will show up in the index. If a page has enough backlinks that indicates it's important, Google could still add a noindex page in the SERPs. See Matt Cutts here Matt Cutts Interviewed by Eric Enge on September 24, 2007. Noindex pages still accumulate PR and pass it through links. Take into account the interview was in 2007, so this was when nofollow could be used for PageRank sculpting, so his answers on using internal nofollow is no longer true (Matt Cutts advises don't use nofollow on internal links now).

    As I think you are clicking on, since noindex only stops Google showing a page in the SERPs there's no good reason to use noindex on a category. Google still knows the category exists and if you allow it to be indexed it might generate traffic in it's own right just like any other page on the site.

    Noindex should be used for pages you don't want indexing, login pages, shopping baskets for example, not categories.

    Last time I checked the WordPress login page (wp-login.php) had it all wrong. They added a noindex,follow meta tag and had a dofollow link to WordPress.org and a nofollow link back to your home page! Should be robots metatag noindex,follow and the WordPress.org link should be nofollow (no automated links to WordPress.org should be dofollow) and the link back to your site should be dofollow. WP 4.0.1 was just released, will have to see if it's been fixed yet.

    Google should ignore all those dofollow links back to WordPress.org because they are not natural links.

    David
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Thanks, time to add excerpts to more sites then as noindex is a complete useless option.

      Makes me wonder if Panda weights pages that are noindexed.
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      • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
        Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

        Thanks, time to add excerpts to more sites then as noindex is a complete useless option.

        Makes me wonder if Panda weights pages that are noindexed.
        Why not just add unique content to your categories?

        There are WordPress themes which have the ability to add unique content to categories, search Google for "Stallion Responsive Tutorials", the second result is one of my categories (Google will rank categories) and the top part of the content is unique to the page: added a feature so I could add rich media content to the top of a category.

        Google doesn't have a problem with excerpts of content used elsewhere on your site, only issue with using automated excerpts is you can't modify them (they are automated) to add specific SEO for the SERPs a category targets.

        If your theme takes advantage of the WordPress excerpt form (on Edit post pages), it can be used to replace the automated excerpt with a manual one. So if you don't mind the extra effort you can make categories almost 100% unique. I don't have the time for writing manual excerpts, so rarely use the feature (I should though :-)).

        I wouldn't worry too much about the automated excerpts, Google won't consider them duplicate content, but if concerned write manual excerpts, you can even add media rich content to them like links which as a link seller gives you another place to sell valuable links. The PR calculations I posted in the other thread shows how much PR flows through archives, they are valuable as sources of links.

        Google will rank noindex pages based on their backlinks, but it takes a lot of backlinks. It's not something we are likely to see on our sites, if I recall correctly eBay at one time noindexed it's site and you could find eBay for relevant SERPs due to the sheer number of backlinks and the power of anchor text. For your average website a noindex page isn't going to be indexed/ranked, it will however pass on SEO benefit through dofollow links.

        David
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        • Profile picture of the author nik0
          Banned
          Originally Posted by SEO-Dave View Post

          Why not just add unique content to your categories?

          There are WordPress themes which have the ability to add unique content to categories, search Google for "Stallion Responsive Tutorials", the second result is one of my categories (Google will rank categories) and the top part of the content is unique to the page: added a feature so I could add rich media content to the top of a category.

          Google doesn't have a problem with excerpts of content used elsewhere on your site, only issue with using automated excerpts is you can't modify them (they are automated) to add specific SEO for the SERPs a category targets.

          If your theme takes advantage of the WordPress excerpt form (on Edit post pages), it can be used to replace the automated excerpt with a manual one. So if you don't mind the extra effort you can make categories almost 100% unique. I don't have the time for writing manual excerpts, so rarely use the feature (I should though :-)).

          I wouldn't worry too much about the automated excerpts, Google won't consider them duplicate content, but if concerned write manual excerpts, you can even add media rich content to them like links which as a link seller gives you another place to sell valuable links. The PR calculations I posted in the other thread shows how much PR flows through archives, they are valuable as sources of links.
          No you're missing my point a bit.

          This is not for money sites but for an existing private/public blog network, purely build to pass on link juice, I don't want to see them ranked (to poor setup).

          I am adjusting it in such way that the customers (and my own sites) only receive links from post level and thus not from home / category level.

          New customers aren't added anymore but there are still plenty of customers left that drive on these rankings so I can't take this network down.
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          • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
            Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

            No you're missing my point a bit.

            This is not for money sites but for an existing private/public blog network, purely build to pass on link juice, I don't want to see them ranked (to poor setup).

            I am adjusting it in such way that the customers (and my own sites) only receive links from post level and thus not from home / category level.

            New customers aren't added anymore but there are still plenty of customers left that drive on these rankings so I can't take this network down.
            Oh I see.

            Would I be right in thinking your theme is/was outputing the entire post (including sold links) on categories and so you used noindex,follow robots meta tag (via Yoast) on archives believing Google would only 'see' the sold links on the posts only?

            Now you know noindex,follow doesn't work that way you want a solution so categories are indexed, but the sold links don't load on the archives.

            Pretty easy to do.

            Use a tool like Notepad++ (just a text editor with find in files search) and search through your theme php files for

            the_content

            For most themes you'll have code like the_content();

            Depending on your theme determines which files to modify, some files you don't change, don't edit single.php or pages.php those output WordPress Posts and Static Pages and need the the_content code.

            Start looking for files like categories.php, tags.php, archive.php, archives.php, author.php, index.php these are the template files that output archives (index.php is probably for your home page archives, but could be home.php or front.php, depends on the theme).

            If any of these include the_content they will probably output full posts on the relevant archive.

            Changing

            the_content

            to

            the_excerpt

            Will change the output to use the WordPress excerpt.

            If a file like categories.php doesn't include the the_content next look at the files

            content.php, content-aside.php and others with format content-***.php (*** could be links, gallery, video...).

            On some themes these files hold the the_content code and are used if your theme supports post formats, so replace the code there.

            If you are only using categories could be as simple as edit

            categories.php and change the_content to the_excerpt.
            Or edit content.php and change the_content to the_excerpt.

            After making this change your theme will output an automated snippet of the post with no links or rich media. You should also be able to use the WordPress Excerpt form on the Edit Posts screen to add your own excerpt manually.

            Depends on the theme you use, more recent themes will use these features older ones might not.

            David
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            • Profile picture of the author nik0
              Banned
              Yeah I know how to do it, would be easier if I could just make these pages disappear from Google but still letting the juice flow through them lol.

              Kind of silly thinking that if I would noindex/follow them that the link juice would still be flowing through internal links and not through external links lol.

              Quite a consuming job I can tell you as now I want to sculpt the juice as much as possbile to the single posts so just adding the_excerpt ain't enough, I also need to get rid of links to categories, to author pages, footer links and all that and with the current themes with tons of additional functions it's quite puzzling at times.

              Most themes don't only use:

              - category.php
              - archives.php
              - single.php
              - page.php
              - index.php

              No they come up with all kind of additional stuff like:

              - content.php
              - content-single.php
              - content-nav.php
              - content-featured.php
              - content-meta.php
              - page-sidebar-right.php
              - page-sidebar-left.php

              you name it....

              What you think of disabling the sidebar on post level? Eg not linking to categories and/or date archives but only 2 links on that page (one to the homepage and one to the client site and zero navigational links on post level.

              Could push it even further with no navigational links on category/archive pages either but that's perhaps pushing it a bit too much.

              Right now the setup for a few starter sites is:

              - static homepage relevant to the original sites
              - date archives on homepage to not have all different named categories
              - excerpts on date archive
              - and then the post

              Might even fool lazy manual revieweres that only visit the homepage.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      The follow meta tag is redundant considering the default is for Google to always follow links until told not to follow (nofollow).

      The only way I can see to test a noindex page passing authority to another page via internal links is to build a noindexed page, use the noindex page as a buffer, then point 1 internal link at a orphaned/indexed page.

      Link flow:
      • strong external links > noindex page > orphaned/indexed page

      The orphaned/indexed page would only have the 1 link coming from the internal noindex buffer page. This way it eliminates any possibility of other internal pages influencing rank for the orphaned/indexed page (the indexed money page).

      I haven't tested this yet.

      Right now I'm on the fence whether Google discounts/devalues followed internal links on noindex pages.

      BTW, I would never noindex a category/parent page. That's the mother of all the grouped pages per subject.
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      • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
        Originally Posted by yukon View Post

        The follow meta tag is redundant considering the default is for Google to always follow links until told not to follow (nofollow).

        The only way I can see to test a noindex page passing authority to another page via internal links is to build a noindexed page, use the noindex page as a buffer, then point 1 internal link at a orphaned/indexed page.

        Link flow:
        • strong external links > noindex page > orphaned/indexed page

        The orphaned/indexed page would only have the 1 link coming from the internal noindex buffer page. This way it eliminates any possibility of other internal pages influencing rank for the orphaned/indexed page (the indexed money page).

        I haven't tested this yet.

        Right now I'm on the fence whether Google discounts/devalues followed internal links on noindex pages.

        BTW, I would never noindex a category/parent page. That's the mother of all the grouped pages per subject.
        I've setup that SEO test multiple times over the past decade or so and the pages are indexed.

        Whether Google passes the exact same SEO benefit from a noindex page is another question that's impractical to test (have tried), but Google definitely passes SEO benefit through links from noindex pages, I assume it's the same amount of SEO value as from any other page that's not noindex.

        That being said, I couldn't agree more that categories should never be noindex, it's a misguided attempt at preventing duplicate content issues by the likes of Yoast and All In One SEO plugins!

        As long as a category/archive uses excerpts Google won't see a category as duplicate content. Even if your theme outputs entire posts on the archives, Google is smart enough to know it's not duplicate content per se (you aren't trying to game Google).

        Google aren't out to hurt webmasters, they know we use techniques (like full posts on categories) that make it harder for Google to determine what's the best page for a SERP, but they know what a WordPress category and what a WordPress post looks like and know the post is probably the better fit for a SERP due to other metrics like the two pages title tags.

        David
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        • Profile picture of the author yukon
          Originally Posted by SEO-Dave View Post

          I've setup that SEO test multiple times over the past decade or so and the pages are indexed.

          Whether Google passes the exact same SEO benefit from a noindex page is another question that's impractical to test (have tried), but Google definitely passes SEO benefit through links from noindex pages, I assume it's the same amount of SEO value as from any other page that's not noindex.
          You missed the whole point.

          I already know an orphaned page will index, that takes about 3 seconds with Fetch as Google in WMT.

          The point was does a followed link on a noindexed page pass anything worthy of ranking another internal page. The page where the noindex link is pointing has to be isolated from the rest of the site otherwise your not testing anything since any other link could have influenced SERP rank.

          I already outlined how to do the test so saying testing is impractical is silly. Also claiming Google does pass link juice from a noindex page contradicts you saying the test is impractical. You can't test something but you know it works [meh].

          I'll test it when I get time. It's not a priority, just curious.
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          • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
            Originally Posted by yukon View Post

            You missed the whole point.

            I already know an orphaned page will index, that takes about 3 seconds with Fetch as Google in WMT.

            The point was does a followed link on a noindexed page pass anything worthy of ranking another internal page. The page where the noindex link is pointing has to be isolated from the rest of the site otherwise your not testing anything since any other link could have influenced SERP rank.

            I already outlined how to do the test so saying testing is impractical is silly. Also claiming Google does pass link juice from a noindex page contradicts you saying the test is impractical. You can't test something but you know it works [meh].

            I'll test it when I get time. It's not a priority, just curious.
            There is a huge difference between Google follows links from noindex pages (very easy to test) and Google follows links from noindex pages AND passes the exact same SEO value as a link from a page lacking noindex.

            Yes, you can setup a test easily, BUT you can't be 100% certain any ranking of the page is only due to the link(s) from the noindex page and not other factors. For that level of SEO testing you need a control to compare to.

            I've run so many SEO tests like these I've lost count, it might be over a thousand.

            Recently running a test on XML sitemap links where hundreds of orphan pages were only linked from the XML sitemap that's submitted to Google webmaster tools. Have a similar set of webpages that are also added to the sitemap and had at least one internal backlink.

            As I'm sure you know to gain competitive SERPs isn't as easy as just adding a webpage targeting the SERP and requires links or at the very least be on a well ranked authority site. So the orphan pages couldn't target highly competitive SERPs, had to target relatively easy long tail SERPs. It's not easy to determine if a long tail SERP would have been obtained without an internal link.

            Comparing the two sets of pages shows both sets are indexed no problem. So a single XML sitemap link is enough for Google to spider and index the orphaned pages (that's a useful SEO test result). But the ranking results are far from clear, there wasn't a clear cut the orphan pages had no SERPs at all and the linked pages had loads of SERPs, it was mixed with the linked pages tending to be more likely to gain the long tail SERP indicating having at least one link Google can find naturally is important.

            The noindex test you suggest will determine if Google spiders and indexes pages linked from noindex pages and if SEO value is passed, but it won't determine if the SEO value passed is exactly the same as a link from a page lacking noindex.

            You didn't say you planned to have a control, now if you setup controls like I have with my XML sitemap tests maybe you can determine relative value, but that takes a lot more effort and like with my XML sitemap test the results probably won't be conclusive, will be indicative only.

            If I wasn't making money from SEO due to health issues I'd be working in a lab doing genetic research, I know how to setup valid tests. I find making money from websites boring, I really enjoy the challenge of understanding Google.

            David
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
      Originally Posted by SEO-Dave View Post

      Yes a page with a robots meta tag noindex,follow passes link benefit to pages linked to aslong as they don't have a rel="nofollow" attribute.

      It's all in the name, noindex, it's not nospider :-)

      The links to the noindex category are still followed by Google, so Google spiders your noindex categories, Googlebot 'sees' all the content on the page etc... including the links.

      All noindex does is tell a search engine not to index the page and what that means is if the page would have been found for a SERP it probably** won't show up.

      ** There's an exception where noindex pages will show up in the index. If a page has enough backlinks that indicates it's important, Google could still add a noindex page in the SERPs. See Matt Cutts here Matt Cutts Interviewed by Eric Enge on September 24, 2007. Noindex pages still accumulate PR and pass it through links. Take into account the interview was in 2007, so this was when nofollow could be used for PageRank sculpting, so his answers on using internal nofollow is no longer true (Matt Cutts advises don't use nofollow on internal links now).

      As I think you are clicking on, since noindex only stops Google showing a page in the SERPs there's no good reason to use noindex on a category. Google still knows the category exists and if you allow it to be indexed it might generate traffic in it's own right just like any other page on the site.

      Noindex should be used for pages you don't want indexing, login pages, shopping baskets for example, not categories.

      Last time I checked the WordPress login page (wp-login.php) had it all wrong. They added a noindex,follow meta tag and had a dofollow link to WordPress.org and a nofollow link back to your home page! Should be robots metatag noindex,follow and the WordPress.org link should be nofollow (no automated links to WordPress.org should be dofollow) and the link back to your site should be dofollow. WP 4.0.1 was just released, will have to see if it's been fixed yet.

      Google should ignore all those dofollow links back to WordPress.org because they are not natural links.

      David
      Well holy S^^t, finally Dave said something I agree with. I'm heading outside my house now to see if I can spot some flying pigs.

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