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  • Writer's pictureBrent D. Payne

Discrepancy in nofollow Rules Across HTML and Headers

Discrepancy signifies that a URL comes with a nofollow instruction that varies between the HTML markup and the HTTP header settings.

Why is this important?

A divergence implies one directive commands 'follow' while another ordains 'nofollow.' Consequently, search engines, including Google, honor the more restrictive 'nofollow' despite any other intentions. As Google has confirmed, they prioritize the strictest directive in cases of conflicting signals, which is also presumably true for other search engines.

For precision and to mitigate error risks, it's recommended to assert robot directives solely once per URL.

Avoid potential issues by ensuring a single location for specifying robots directives.

What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization activates when an internal URL is found with differing follow/nofollow directives within the HTML and HTTP header.

Examples that trigger this Optimization

The Optimization engages for any URL presenting both:

A 'nofollow' meta tag within the <head>, as follows:

<!doctype html><html lang="en">  <head>    <title>Sample Title</title>    <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">    ...  </head>  <body>...  </body></html>

AND an HTTP header with a 'follow' directive:

HTTP/... 200 OK...X-Robots-Tag: noindex,follow

The reverse scenario also triggers the Optimization:

A 'follow' meta tag within the <head>, such as:

<!doctype html><html lang="en">  <head>    <title>Sample Title</title>    <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">    ...  </head>  <body>...  </body></html>

AND an HTTP header directive stating 'nofollow':

HTTP/... 200 OK...X-Robots-Tag: noindex,nofollow

How do you resolve this issue?

With conflicting robots directives, the process first involves pinpointing the correct directive. After identifying the appropriate instruction, you must align the conflicting directive to conform. It's a wise precaution, moving forward, to calibrate your page template to declare robots directives in a single fashion exclusively.

Action may necessitate engaging with developers to modify page templates, plugins, or HTTP headers - eliminating redundancy so instructions are singularly established.



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