Before beginning, I know a few of you will be upset I wrote this at all. But I want to show you the history here.
A WebmasterWorld thread asks what is the story with the noarchive META tag and the likelihood that it may hurt your Google rankings or rankings in other search engines. Let me first give you my opinion for the year 2008. I do not think the noarchive tag will hurt you in any way, unless you are spamming the search engines and hiding something from them. If you are not spamming, then you have nothing to worry about and you can use the noarchive tag for good.
So why is there concern over using the tag and having your rankings drop? As the thread shows, historically, we had reports all the way back in 2001, yes seven years ago, that sites that utilized the noarchive tag saw a drop in their Google ranks. WebmasterWorld's founder and owner, Brett Tabke, said back then, and I quote:
We've tested on 12 domains. All 12 domains dropped in rankings the following update after adding noarchive.
But Brett adds that even back then, there was opposition to the theory.
What about in 2008? Like I said above, I think its a non-issue for virtually all webmasters, of course there are exceptions. The new WebmasterWorld thread discusses just that. As you can see by reading the thread, there is still some concern over using the META tag.
WebmasterWorld's administrator, Tedster, first explains that there is nothing wrong with using the tag. Google has never said it will hurt your rankings. But he does add, that if there are "borderline spammy signs" on your pages, "then a noarchive tag can be one more bad sign and possibly contribute to a ranking problem. Matt Cutts [of Google] has mentioned this several times at conferences."
WebmasterWorld moderator, Receptional Andy, adds to Tedster's warning, saying, "Only a small percentage of sites will use noarchive; so, it puts your site in a slightly different group, and one that is more likely to be closely-scrutinised." But I love how moderator, PageOnResults, follows up to that post saying, "What percentage of Internet surfers actually use the Cached link?" Meaning, just like a small percent of sites use the noarchive tag, so to, a small percent of searches use the cache link.
For those curious, that was the basis of the argument behind Does Using a NoFollow Attribute Raise a Red Flag at Google?
Take Aways: (1) If you are spamming or it may look like you are spamming, be safe and don't use the noarchive META tag. (2) Otherwise, go for it!
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.