When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, understanding how Googlebot interprets various meta tags is crucial. In this article, we will delve into the topic of the prerender-status-code meta tag and how Googlebot handles it. While this non-standard meta element may not be commonly encountered, it’s important to know how to address it effectively if it arises. So, let’s explore what the prerender-status-code meta tag is and how you can optimize its usage to ensure a seamless user experience and improved search engine visibility.
What is the Prerender-Status-Code Meta Tag?
The prerender-status-code meta tag, sometimes referred to as a meta tag, is a non-standard meta element that is not officially documented by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C.org), the organization responsible for creating HTML standards. Unlike standard meta elements, non-standard ones like the prerender-status-code meta tag may not be supported universally by different browsers or search engines, including Google. Therefore, it’s important to understand how Googlebot responds to this particular meta tag.
Googlebot’s Response to the Prerender-Status-Code Meta Tag
A user named Martin recently posed a question to Google’s Martin Splitt regarding the behavior of Googlebot when it encounters the prerender-status-code meta tag with a value of 404, indicating a page not found.
If you are utilizing this meta tag to handle page not found scenarios, it is recommended to explore alternative solutions such as the
<meta name="robots" content="noindex"> tag or implementing proper server responses with the 404 status code.
Non-Standard Meta Elements and Google’s Support
The prerender-status-code meta tag is just one example of a non-standard meta element that is not supported by Google. Another well-known non-standard meta element is the meta keywords element, which was popular in the 1990s but is not officially recognized by the W3C.org or included in the official HTML standards. It’s essential to differentiate between standard and non-standard meta elements to ensure compliance with industry best practices.
To gain a better understanding of the meta tags and attributes that Google supports, it is advisable to refer to Google’s support page on supported meta tags. This page provides valuable information on the various meta tags and attributes that can enhance your website’s visibility in search results. It’s important to note that Google’s support for meta tags may change over time, so staying up to date with the latest documentation is crucial for effective SEO.
Best Practices for Handling Page Not Found Scenarios
While the prerender-status-code meta tag may not be supported by Googlebot, there are alternative strategies you can employ to handle page not found scenarios effectively. Consider the following best practices:
1. Implement Proper Server Responses
To ensure a seamless user experience and improve your website’s search engine visibility, it is crucial to implement proper server responses for page not found scenarios. When a user encounters a page not found, the server should respond with the appropriate 404 status code. This informs both users and search engines that the requested page does not exist.
2. Utilize the “noindex” Directive
In situations where a page is temporarily unavailable or undergoing maintenance, it may be beneficial to instruct search engines not to index the page. This can be achieved by adding the
<meta name="robots" content="noindex"> tag to the page’s HTML header. By doing so, you can prevent search engines from indexing the page and avoid potential issues with soft-404 errors.
3. Implement Custom Error Pages
Custom error pages, also known as 404 pages, can play a crucial role in retaining users and providing them with relevant information when they encounter a page not found. By designing a user-friendly and informative error page, you can guide users back to your website’s main navigation or suggest alternative content that may be relevant to their original intent.
4. Monitor and Fix Broken Links
Regularly monitoring and fixing broken links on your website is essential for maintaining a positive user experience and ensuring search engine crawlers can navigate your site effectively. Broken links can lead to a poor user experience and negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings. Utilize tools such as Google Search Console to identify and address any broken links promptly.
See first source: Search Engine Journal
Q1: What is the prerender-status-code meta tag?
A1: The prerender-status-code meta tag is a non-standard meta element used in web development. It’s not officially documented by the W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium), the organization responsible for creating HTML standards.
Q2: How does Googlebot respond to the prerender-status-code meta tag?
A2: Googlebot, Google’s web crawling bot, currently ignores the prerender-status-code meta tag when it encounters it on websites. This means that Googlebot does not consider this meta tag when crawling and indexing web pages.
Q3: What should I do if I’m using the prerender-status-code meta tag to handle page not found scenarios?
A3: If you’re using the prerender-status-code meta tag to handle page not found (404) scenarios, it is recommended to explore alternative solutions. Google’s Martin Splitt suggests considering options like adding <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> or implementing proper server responses with the 404 status code.
Q4: Are there other non-standard meta elements that Google does not support?
A4: Yes, there are other non-standard meta elements that Google does not officially support. One example is the meta keywords element, which was popular in the 1990s but is not recognized in official HTML standards.
Q5: How can I ensure compliance with industry best practices for meta tags and attributes?
A5: To ensure compliance with industry best practices for meta tags and attributes, it’s advisable to refer to Google’s support page on supported meta tags. This page provides up-to-date information on the meta tags and attributes that Google supports for enhancing a website’s visibility in search results.