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When one of your web site’s pages shows up in a list of results on a search engine, what do people see? Often the contents of the description tag of your pages are displayed in the search results.

At other times the search engines will display portions of your page’s content which contain words used in the search query. This helps people to see if your page is relevant to their search request.

Sometimes, if you are listed in DMOZ (ODP), the search engines will display snippets of text about your site taken from them instead of your description meta tag. You can force the search engine to ignore the ODP information by including a robots meta tag like this: <meta name="robots" content="noodp" />.

Which Search Engines Support NOODP?

The "NOODP" robots meta tag is fully supported by Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

If the search engine (in this case, Yahoo!) displays information about your site taken from the Yahoo! Directory instead of your description meta tag, you can force it to ignore the directory information by including a robots meta tag like this: <meta name="robots" content="noydir" />.

It should also be perfectly reasonable to specify instructions for each individual crawling robot, such as indicated below.

  • If you only have the problem with Google, you can use this: <meta name="googlebot" content="noodp" />.
  • If you only have the problem with Yahoo!, you can use this: <meta name="slurp" content="noydir" />.
  • If you only have the problem with MSN, you can use this: <meta name="msnbot" content="noodp" />.

Which Search Engines Support NOYDIR?

Currently, only Yahoo!’s spider, Slurp, uses the Yahoo! Directory.

If the search engine (in this case, Yahoo!) displays information about your site taken from the Yahoo! Directory instead of your description meta tag, you can force it to ignore the directory information by including a robots meta tag like this: <meta name="robots" content="noydir" />.

Be aware that, once you add any of the above meta tags to your pages, it may take some time for changes to your snippets to appear.

It is hoped that these examples illustrate several of the methods at your disposal that will help you to tailor the way search engines index a given web page.

About this SEO tutorial

This tutorial was written by John S. Britsios (aka Webnauts), Search Experience Consultant at SEO Workers and was published April 06, 2007.

Copyright reserved. Not to be reproduced.

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