Can Adding the NOODP Tag Hurt Your Google Rankings?

Aug 1, 2006 • 7:44 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

On July 13th, Google added support for the NOODP tag and Webmasters rejoiced. But there seems to be a number of reports that claim the NOODP tag is hurting their rankings. All claim that the only change they made to their pages was to add the NOODP tag and nothing else. Soon after, their rankings dropped off. We asked this question when MSN announced the tag, but it was rejected.

Over at Search Engine Watch Forums the continued discussion has one such story:

Simultaneously to that [adding the tag], my site disappeared for our primary key phrase. I don't mean just dropped off the first page, I mean gone. The addition of the NOODP tag was the only change I made. Now I thought that it was possible that it was a coincidence, so I took the tag off to see what would happen. Sure enough, as soon as Goog picked up on the new version, bingo! I'm back on page one.

An other member recounts the same thing on a different site:

I have a client that recently added the NOODP tag to his pages. As soon as Google cached the pages, each of the data centers dropped their first page rankings for a very competitive phrase. A week or two later he added it back and again, as soon as the pages were cached the rankings returned.

DazzilinDonna tries to possibly explain it by discussing one of the videos Matt Cutts posted the other day;

Might be cause/effect. Matt Cutts today, in his video, explained when/why the odp description is used. The gist of it is that it is query-dependent, and will be used when the odp description better matches the specific query. Now, it stands to reason, that if the description better matches the query, then "maybe" it will also add an extra point or two to the score. Just thinking logically, if a "trusted source" says your site is about "xy and z" (the odp description), and the query is for xy and z, then you get extra points added to the rankings score. Taking away the description, and thus taking away the extra point or two, may cause it to have less "points" than the competition...thus dropping in rankings.

But with all due respect, and I respect Donna a ton, I have to disagree. I know Donna is looking for an answer but as Matt described, first the ranking order comes in, then the titles are created - I believe.

Yes, there are other forums which recount similar behavior, including this post at WebmasterWorld.

I guess it is just a coincedence that that is the only new factor and our front page seems to have dropped out of Google. Not only that, the cache date is AFTER we put the NOODP in it and yet it still is showing the ODP title and description.

But if you continue to read from here at WebmasterWorld, you will learn that many have added the tag and it had zero affect on rankings.

Yes, I inserted the code too and in a matter of days the new title is being displaced. No other change in traffic or serps. So go ahead and do it. There is no correlation between this code and ranking.

So I would say this is just one big coincidence, I hope.

Previous story: MSN Crawlers Are Named



08/01/2006 12:25 pm

I don't mind being called on that answer. I hesitated about writing it in the first place, but "if" it is not a coincidence, then it seemed like a possible explanation. Still, I understand why you'd disagree. I almost disagree with myself on that one. :)

Barry Schwartz

08/01/2006 12:28 pm

Donna, I hope I made it clear above, that I thought you wrote that answer, only to offer some logical explanation. I got from your post that you wrote it with difficulty, and that you wanted to find some reason. I hope I expressed it above, and not that I was looking to disagree with you - just the answer. Like you were playing devils advocate...

Michael Martinez

08/01/2006 12:35 pm

As is usual, many SEOs assume that they and they alone influence search results rankings. SERPs change for any number of reasons, so you can sit on big fat SEO behind, do nothing, and still gain ground (or lose it) because someone else changed something.

Barry Schwartz

08/01/2006 12:42 pm

Michael, didn't I say that? :) Bad day so far? ;-)

chris boggs

08/01/2006 12:43 pm

someone needs a hug :)


08/01/2006 06:07 pm

It's coincidence. There is a major update going on as well. People have been dropping in the SERPs then coming back ODP or no-ODP.

chris boggs

08/01/2006 07:50 pm

HI you have any concrete evidence that this is a coicidence? I am curious if you have measured any sites using NOODP vs not using it...the more "coincidences" that happen, the less likely that it is a coincidence, no?

Matt Cutts

08/01/2006 10:15 pm

Barry, you're right: ranking is computed first. Then snippets. So implementing the noodp tag can't affect your ranking. I'll doublecheck to be completely sure though.

Barry Schwartz

08/01/2006 10:18 pm

Nice to have a confirmation Matt. Looking forward to seeing you next week. :)


08/02/2006 08:35 am

Thanks for confirming this Matt. Maybe you should tell us about that in your next video. Are you sure Osama doesn't have you? I mean maybe the map is just a prop to make us think you haven't been abducted ... Don't listen to me, though. I think cloaking can be ethical :)

chris boggs

08/02/2006 02:09 pm

cool thanks Matt and please let us know on that double check. :)


11/06/2006 02:57 pm

will the NOODP allow google to follow my index?

Barry Schwartz

11/06/2006 03:09 pm

yes, it will.

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