What is Robots.txt?

robots.txt directives

What is robots.txt?

The robots.txt file, also known as the robot exclusion protocol, is a standard that prevents web crawlers from accessing all or portions of a website. It is in the form of a text file that is used for SEO, it contains commands for the indexing robots of search engines. The robots interpret this data and understand which pages may and cannot be indexed. Search engines aim to identify sites available on the public web that they can index during the crawling and indexing stage.

The contents of the robots.txt file are the first thing people search for when visiting a website.

They produce a list of URLs they can crawl and index for the specific website based on the rules stated in the file.

The contents of a robots.txt file are exposed to the public on the Internet. Anyone can access your robots.txt file unless it is protected, so this is not the place to put anything you don’t want others to see.

What happens if your robots.txt file is missing? If the robots.txt file is missing from your website, search engine crawlers presume that all of the website’s publicly accessible pages can be crawled and added to their index.

What if the robots.txt file isn’t properly formatted? It is dependent on the situation. If the contents of the file are misconfigured, search engines will still access the website and ignore the contents of the robots.txt file.

What if I unintentionally prevent search engines from viewing my site? That is a major issue. To begin with, they will not crawl or index pages from your website , and any pages that are currently in their index will be gradually removed.

Do you need a robots.txt file?

Yes, even if you don’t want any of your website’s pages or directories to display in search engine results, you must have a robots.txt file.

Why use a robots.txt?

The following are the most basic uses of robots.txt:

  1. To prevent search engines from accessing certain pages or directories on your site. These directives tell search engines not to index the directories in certain areas.
  2. Crawling and indexing can be a time-consuming procedure when you have a large website. Crawlers from a variety of search engines will attempt to crawl and index your entire site, which could cause major speed issues. In this situation, the robots.txt file can be used to limit access to areas of your website that aren’t vital for SEO or rankings. This not only reduces the strain on your server but also speeds up the indexing process.
  3. When you choose to disguise your affiliate links with URL cloaking. This isn’t the same as cloaking your content or URLs to deceive users or search engines, but it is a legitimate way to make managing your affiliate links easier.

Two Important things to know about robots.txt

The first thing to remember is that any robots.txt restrictions you set are only directives. This means that it is up to search engines to follow the regulations and observe them.

In most circumstances, they do, but if you have content that you don’t want to be included in their index, the easiest approach to safeguard the directory or page is to password protect it.

The second point to remember is that even if a page or directory is blocked in robots, it may still appear in search results if it contains links to other pages that have already been indexed. To put it another way, adding a page to the robots.txt file does not guarantee that it will be deleted from the web or that it will not appear there.

Another option is to use page directives to protect the page or directory in addition to using a password. They’re inserted to the <head> of every page and look like this:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

How does robots.txt work?

The structure of the robots file is quite straightforward. You can utilize various pre-defined keyword/value combinations.

User-agent, Disallow, Allow, Crawl-delay, and Sitemap are the most popular.

User-agent: Indicates which crawlers should take the directives into account. You can use a * to refer to all crawlers or a specific crawler’s name. For example:

User-agent: * – All crawlers are included.
User-agent: Googlebot – These instructions are only for the Google bot.

Disallow: The directive that tells a user agent not to crawl a specific URL or section of a website. A specific file, URL, or directory can be the value of disallow. 

Allow: This directive specifies which pages or subfolders can be accessed explicitly. This is only true for the Googlebot. Even if the parent directory is forbidden, you can utilize the allow to grant access to a specific sub-folder on your website.

Crawl-delay: You can provide a crawl-delay value to have search engine crawlers wait for a certain duration before moving on to the next page of your website. You must provide a value in milliseconds. It should be noted that Googlebot does not take the crawl-delay into account.

Google Search Console can be used to manage Google’s crawl budget. If you have a website with thousands of pages and don’t want to overload your server with requests, you can use the crawl rate. The crawl-delay command should be avoided in the vast majority of cases.

Sitemap: The sitemap directive is used to define the location of your XML Sitemap and is supported by major search engines such as Google. Search engines can still find the XML sitemap even if you don’t indicate its location in the robots.

Where do you put the robots.txt?

You’re not sure if you have a robots.txt file for your website?

Simply type your root domain and add /robots.txt to the end of the URL. The “Panorabanques” robots file, for example, is hosted on the domain “https://www.panorabanques.com.”

You do not have a robots.txt page if no.txt page displays (live).

If you do not have a robots.txt file:

  • Do you need it? Make sure there aren’t any low-value pages that require it. For instance, your shopping cart, your internal search engine’s search pages, and so on.
  • If you require it, create the file using the commands listed above.

How to create a robots.txt for a website?

The robots.txt file has a set of tools to go by. To create the robots.txt file, follow the basic requirements for robots.txt files, which include the formatting, syntax, and location guidelines.
In terms of format and location, a robots.txt file can be created with nearly any text editor. The text editor should be able to produce standard ASCII or UTF-8 text files. Avoid using a word processor since these programs frequently save files in a proprietary format and may include unexpected characters (e.g., curly quotes), which can cause crawlers to become confused.

Rules for formatting and usage

  • The robots.txt file is a text file that must be placed in the server/root site’s directory, e.g. https://abc.com/robots.txt.
  • It can’t go in a subdirectory (like http://example.com/pages/robots.txt), but it can go on a subdomain (like http://website.example.com/robots.txt).
  • The name of the robots.txt file must be in lower case (no Robots.txt or ROBOTS.TXT).
  • There should be only one robots.txt file for your website.
  • If it’s absent, a 404 error will appear, and the robots will assume no material is forbidden.

Best practices

  • Make sure that no information or areas of your website are blocked from being indexed.
  • Links on pages where robots.txt has been disabled will not be followed.
  • To prevent sensitive data from being displayed in the SERP, do not use robots.txt. Other pages may still be indexed if they link directly to the page containing private information. Use a different mechanism, such as password protection or the noindex meta directive, to keep your website out of the search results.
  • There are several users on certain search engines. Googlebot, for example, is used for organic search, and Googlebot-Picture is used for image search. The majority of search engine user agents follow the same set of guidelines. As a result, specifying standards for different search engine bots isn’t necessary, but it does allow you to fine-tune how your site’s content is assessed.
  • The content of robots.txt will be cached by a search engine, but it will be updated at least once a day. You can transmit your robots.txt URL to Google if you edit the file and wish to update it more rapidly.

Conclusion:

You can use the robots.txt file to prevent robots from accessing certain areas of your website, which is useful if a section of your page is private or the content isn’t important to search engines. As a result, a robots.txt file is an important tool for controlling how your sites are indexed.

Additional Resources:

Quiz of Robots txt Directives Optimization

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Robots txt Directives Optimization

 Increase your knowledge

1 / 5

Why use a robots.txt?

2 / 5

Does robots txt help SEO?

3 / 5

Why we using this { User-agent: * } ?

4 / 5

Should robots txt be visible?

5 / 5

What will the following robots.txt file do?
User-agent: Googlebot.
Disallow:/ *?
User-agent: Scooter.
Disallow:.

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