Google: Noindex On One URL In An Hreflang Cluster Can Impact All The URLs In That Cluster

In the latest Search Off the Record podcast, Lizzi Sassman of Google asked Gary Illyes of Google about using a noindex on international URLs in an hreflang set. Gary said it can potentially lead to the whole cluster being noindexed.

This came up at the 13:34 mark in the podcast, where Lizzi asked “What would happen if you’ve got other languages? Like you’ve got the noindex on one language, would we then do something about the other languages? Like, if, I guess, you set it as the rel=canonical, then?

Gary Illyes responded “so it depends on how the setup is because it can happen that you, for
example, if we have some sort of duplication across languages and Google detects that as a duplication then it might mean that one noindex can affect the whole cluster. But it’s hard to trigger it, but nonetheless, you can.

Lizzi followed up by asking “OK, so, it’s something that could happen. But I’m wondering, is it safe to rely on that? Or you should put it on every language page, just to be sure if you wanted it for sure noindex is removed? You should be thinking about all the things. Or can you just add it to the canonical page and then we will know to get rid of it? Like from just an efficiency perspective, I guess. Like, I don’t want this page, so I therefore also wouldn’t want the other pages that I’ve linked up.”

Gary responded “You probably want to add it to every page that you want to remove. I think
our setup is more special, because we do use hreflang. So, we are instructing–not instructing, but hinting to indexing that these are clusters of pages, and then they might influence each other.”

Glenn Gabe summed it up nicely in these tweets:

Here is the embed at the start time:

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Forum discussion at Twitter.

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