Can Adding the NOODP Tag Hurt Your Google Rankings?

Aug 1, 2006 - 7:44 am 13 by

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.


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