Please note: MacIntyre Hudson commented that the addition of the code was deliberate, so take the second part of this article with a pinch of salt.
MacIntyre Hudson blocked search engines from indexing their homepage. Be sure not to make the same mistake.
Nine times out of ten, your homepage will be the most important page on your accountancy website. It is the page that is the most trusted by the search engines, the page that receives the most traffic and the page that should hold the number one spot when a web user searches for your practice name.
The home page is the starting point that allows people (and search engines) to easily access deep pages on your site and its main function is to act as a “dispatcher”.
Blocking search engines from indexing it will have a seriously negative impact on your Search Engine Optimisation efforts. Your website home page really is the heart of your website, and it is essential that search engines can access it, index it and follow links that appear on it.
Even big firms of accountants make mistakes: MacIntyre Hudson
MacIntyre Hudson is a fairly large firm of accountants in the UK (Top 50). However, when you search for MacIntyre Hudson in Google, you do not get their newly designed website homepage as the first result. Instead you see their careers page holding the top spot (see screeshot below).
A quick look at their source code tells us that the culprit is a misused meta robots tag – code that tells search engine robots (the software they use to index websites) how to treat a web page. The meta robots tag is the last meta tag that still plays a major role in the way websites are ranked.
The above highlighted line tells search engines to completely ignore the page, to not follow any links that are on it, and to not show it in their results. The noindex command is what made the MacIntyre Hudson homepage disappear from the search engines.
This really proves that you should be very careful when working on Search Engine Optimisation for your website. A relatively small mistake, like forgetting to remove a meta tag from a development site, can have serious consequences once the site is live.
Edit 09/03/2010: the code has now been removed and MacIntyre Hudson’s home page is back in Google with its sitelinks.