If you’re a blogger or digital marketer, you’ve probably heard of robots.txt files. But do you know what they are and how they can help your SEO?
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about robots.txt files and their impact on SEO. We’ll discuss what they are, how they work, and the benefits they can offer your website. So if you’re ready to learn more about robots.txt files and their role in SEO, keep reading!
What Is robots.txt?
A “robots.txt” file tells search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your site. This is used mainly to avoid overloading your site with requests; when a search engine crawls a site, it makes a request for each and every file on the site.
The “robots.txt” file is located in the root directory of your site. So, if your site’s address is “www.example.com”, the robots.txt file would be located at “www.example.com/robots.txt”.
The contents of a “robots.txt” file should look something like this:
The “User-agent” line tells the search engine which robots should read the file. The asterisk (“*”) means all robots.
The “Disallow” lines tell the robot which directories it should not visit. In the example above, the robot would not visit any files in the “cgi-bin”, “tmp”, or “~nobody” directories.
You can also disallow all files in a directory by just putting a slash (“/”) after the directory name, like this:
The above “robots.txt” file would disallow any files in the “images” directory, regardless of what type of file they are.
Why Is robots.txt Important?
The robots.txt file is important because it tells search engine crawlers which pages on your website they are allowed to access. This is important because you may have pages on your website that you don’t want to be indexed by search engines, such as pages that contain sensitive information.
If a search engine crawler tries to access a page on your website that is not listed in the robots.txt file, it’ll receive a “403 Forbidden” error. This error tells the crawler that it is not allowed to access the page.
It can also be used to tell search engine crawlers how often they should crawl your website. For example, if you have a large website with many pages, you may want to limit the number of times a crawler accesses your site so that it doesn’t overload your server.
The robots.txt file is also important for security purposes. If there are certain pages on your website that you don’t want anyone to be able to access, you can block them off by listing them in the robots.txt file. This will prevent anyone from being able to access those pages, even if they know the URL.
How To Create A robots.txt File?
Creating a robots.txt file is simple. All you need to do is create a text file and name it “robots.txt”. Once you have created your robots.txt file, you can then upload it to the root directory of your website.
Some web hosting providers give you the option to create a robots.txt file directly from your control panel. If this is the case, simply log in to your account and look for an option that says “robots.txt” or “manage robots.txt file”.
Once you have created your robots.txt file, you can then add the following code to it:
The above code tells all web crawlers that they are not allowed to access any part of your website. If you want to allow web crawlers to access your website, you can simply remove the “Disallow” line from your robots.txt file.
You can also add specific lines of code for specific web crawlers. For example, if you only want to block Google’s web crawler, you can add the following line of code:
You can also specify which pages or folders you want to block. For example, if you want to block all web crawlers from accessing the “images” folder on your website, you can add the following line of code:
You can also specify which pages you want to block. For example, if you want to block all web crawlers from accessing the “contact.html” page on your website, you can add the following line of code:
Remember to save your robots.txt file after making any changes to it.
Benefits Of Using A robots.txt File For SEO
Here are a few benefits of using a robots.txt file for SEO:
- Helps to ensure that search engine bots don’t index pages that you don’t want them to. I mean you can use the noindex meta tag, but that’s not always reliable.
- Can help keep your site’s architecture clean and easy to navigate for both users and search engine bots. And a well-organized site is more likely to get better search engine rankings.
- Allows you to specify the frequency at which you want bots to crawl your site, which can help manage server load.
- You can use the last version of a page’s URL to help prevent duplicate content problems by allowing you to choose the canonical version.
- Allows you to specify alternate versions of a page (e.g., for different languages or device types), which can be helpful for both users and search engine bots.
robots.txt file Best Practices
For most websites, a good starting point for your robots.txt file is:
This tells all robots that they are welcome to crawl the site, and where to find your sitemap. You can then use your sitemap to give the robots more specific instructions about which pages on your site they are welcome to crawl.
If you have pages on your website that you don’t want to be crawled and indexed by search engines, you can use the robots.txt file to tell them not to crawl those pages. For example, you might use this if you have a “thank you” page that is only shown after a visitor submits a form, and you don’t want search engines to index that page.
To tell robots not to crawl and index a page on your website, you would add the following to your robots.txt file:
This tells all robots that they are not allowed to crawl the /thank-you page on your website. You can also use robots.txt to tell robots not to crawl certain types of files, such as images or PDFs.
It’s important to remember that the robots.txt file is a set of instructions for robots, not humans. Humans can still visit any page on your website, even if it’s listed in the robots.txt file. So, if you’re trying to keep a page private and only allow certain people to see it, using robots.txt is not the right solution. You should instead use password protection or some other method of restricting access to that page.
A robots.txt file is a great tool for telling robots what they can and can’t crawl on your website. But it’s important to use it correctly, or you could end up inadvertently blocking important pages on your website from being indexed by search engines.
In the last, I’d say that the robots.txt file is a great tool for telling robots what they can and can’t crawl on your website. But it’s important to use it correctly, or you could end up inadvertently blocking important pages on your website from being indexed by search engines.
If you want to keep a page private and only allow certain people to see it, using robots.txt is not the right solution. You should instead use password protection or some other method of restricting access to that page.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what the robots.txt file is and how to use it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.