Should You Noindex Landing Pages?
Typically when you create and add new pages to your website – even pages that aren’t accessible through navigation or internal linking – search engines crawl and index them. One question we’ve fielded lately has been whether or not to use a “noindex” tag for landing pages, specifically those used in paid (PPC) campaigns. With that, let’s take a look at some of the situations in which you might consider noindexing a page:
1. Duplicate Content
Say you have two landing pages that are identical in content, but differ in their goal conversion actions. Search engines will consider this duplicate content, which can lead to getting dinged in the rankings. Maybe you have a national campaign running and you’ve created landing pages that only vary in geographically-targeted keywords. If you think the content is “pretty much identical” then it’s a good bet that search engines will think so too. Use the noindex attribute to make sure your duplicate content pages are not indexed.
2. Time-Sensitive Promotions or Events
If your landing page promotes an event or sale that has a date attached to it, you may want to consider using the noindex attribute, for fairly obvious reasons.
3. Confirmation or Conversion Tracking Pages
This is commonly a “Thank You” page that a visitor may reach only after making a purchase or signing up for something on your landing page. While it’s generally not a page of content that is going to give you any sort of ranking boost, occasionally we see discount codes or other information on this page that we would only want someone to see if they actually performed the goal action. (Or you simply don’t want your analytics data getting muddied)
4. SEO Competition
It’s not uncommon to see a landing page get indexed and become your own competition for that targeted keyword or phrase. If you’ve worked to make sure your static page is optimized properly, you may not want the added competition from your landing page. This may not matter to you that much – some businesses say they don’t care how someone’s getting to their site as long as they’re getting there – but if you want to keep the “SEO” page separate from the landing page, use the noindex.
I’m sure we could list a few additional reasons you wouldn’t want to index your landing pages, but these were the first couple that popped into my head. At this point you might be asking, “how do I make sure my landing pages don’t get indexed?”
Using the Noindex Attribute
Depending on your content management system, you may have the ability to assign the noindex attribute to the page as you’re creating. On many of our WordPress sites we use the Yoast SEO plugin, which gives you the ability to set that from the page editor. In the “Advanced” tab, the first option is “Meta Robots Index” – just select “noindex” from the dropdown menu. You can also set the page to not be included in your sitemap, assign the “nofollow” attribute, and even assign a 301 redirect if you want a particular page to direct to a different URL.
But if you don’t use WordPress, this plugin, or aren’t sure what capabilities your CMS has, you can also assign the noindex attribute through Google Webmaster Tools (and Bing/Yahoo Webmaster Tools). Rather than list the steps here, you can read for yourself how to block your landing page from being indexed through Google. Remember, it’s still up to the search engines whether they’ll honor your request, so it is possible your noindexed landing pages could still show up – but this will help make sure they don’t!