We've been debating the following SEO question at our office:

If you block bot access to a page either via robots.txt or on-page noindex metadata, does that negate the value of any backlinks to that page?

We have a client who wants to block some event booking form pages from being indexed as each booking form page has a unique URL parameter and the pages are "clogging up" the Google index; however lots of websites link to those booking form pages and we wouldn't want to lose the value of those links.

Any opinions welcomed.


Thanks guys

@lese I assumed that blocking a page using robots.txt pretty much guaranteed it wouldn't appear in SERPS.

Can you further clarify: "Using robots.txt, a blocked page can still be indexed by Google (URL only, or with data from trusted 3rd party sources)"?

@joshak Thanks. The pages I'm trying to remove from the index don't have much content value - they are just event booking forms. So I'd prefer to get the higher value pages only in the index and direct the link value of the event booking pages to other pages on the website.

2 Answers 2


Using robots.txt, a blocked page can still be indexed by Google (URL only, or with data from trusted 3rd party sources) and receive PR if linked to by other pages. But its PR won't be passed to other pages.

If you use the noindex metatag then that will prevent the page from appearing in the index at all, but the page will still be crawled and will receive PR from backlinks, which it will pass on to the pages it links to.

However, you shouldn't worry about "clogging" SERPs. If people are linking to those pages, then clearly they're of some value to web users, therefore they should be indexed and appear in search results.

  • 1
    Agree with everything here, and would add an exclamation point: "PR won't be passed to other pages" meaning if you're linking into those pages, the PR you pass in is irretrievably lost. Classic PageRank black hole.
    – JeremyB
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 20:37

I do believe "noindex, follow" is the most common solution to this. I have seen instances where another page ranks for an obscure word that is only used in anchor text on a page that is not indexed through this method, although it's hard to test just how much value is getting passed it appears to be more then if you used disallow.

I'd ask how well your site is being indexed now? if most of your pages including these are being indexed then, and these are direct sales pages, then instead of removing them try and rank them. On the other hand if most of your site is not getting indexed and you think these pages are using up crawl bandwidth and keeping your money pages from being indexed then get rid of them.

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