What is Robots.txt? And how Robots.txt file help your SEO? Find how to optimize your robots.txt file by following this guide. You’ll be robots rock-star.
SEO goes above and beyond keyword research and building backlinks. Now, another technical side of SEO has cropped up that can mainly impact your search ranking.
This is the perfect time where your robots.txt file would become a factor.
As much as my experience is, many people are unfamiliar with robots.txt files and even don’t know where to start. That’s what fired my imagination of creating this guide.
I would like to start with the basics. What’s exactly a robot.txt file?
When a search engine bot crawls a site, it uses the robots.txt file to ferret out what parts of the website, it should index.
Sitemaps are stored in your root folder and in the robots.txt file. In fact, you design a sitemap so that search engines may feel confident to index your content.
Let’s take your robots.txt file as a guide manual for bots. It’s a guide with rules that they should abide. However, these rules will clue crawlers up what they’re OK’d to see (like the pages on your sitemap) and what parts of your website are restricted.
Robots.txt file can bring about big SEO problems for your site, when it’s not optimized correctly.
This is why it’s so essential for you to tumble to properly how this works and what steps you should take to make sure that this technical element of your site is helpful to you, as opposed to foul up you.
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Discover your robots.txt file
Do you have a robots.txt file to start with? Before you do anything, make sure that you have it. Most likely, some of you didn’t come here before.
If you want to see that your website has already one, put the URL of your website into a web browser, followed by /robots.txt.
Here’s what it looks like for A One Sol.
When you do this, it’s probably to happen one of three things;
- In fact, you’ll get a robots.txt file that’d be same the one above. (Although if you’ve not got the time to improve it, then yet it’s likely not as in-depth).
- You’ll see a robots.txt file that’s totally blank, however, at least setup.
- You’ll see a 404 error because that page doesn’t exist.
Most of you either will get into the first or second scenario. The possibility is that you will not get 404 error because most of the sites receive a robots.txt file setup by default when a website developed. If you didn’t make any changes on your website, then those default settings need to be there.
Whether you want to create or edit this file, you just have to navigate to the root folder of your site.
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Modify your robots.txt content
For the most part, you normally don’t like to footle about with this so much. Meanwhile, you don’t have to modify it on a frequent basis.
When it comes to adding something to your robots.txt file, the only reason to do it is, that there are many pages on your site that you want to disallow bots to crawl and index.
Now, you should get familiar with the syntax that’s used for commands. So, open a plain text editor to note down the syntax.
I’m going to cover the syntax that’s used generally.
First of all, identify the crawlers. This is alluded to as the User-agent.
However, this syntax above refers to all search engines crawlers (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)
As the name implies, this value is telling straight to Google’s crawlers.
When you point out the crawler, you can allow or disallow content on your site.
This page is utilized for our administrative backend for WordPress. So, this command is responsible to inform all crawlers (User-agent: *) not to crawl this page. There’s actually no reason for the bots to fritter away the time crawling that.
So, let’s suppose you need to clue in all the bots not to crawl this particular page on your site. http://www.example.com/samplepage3/
The syntax would be like this:
Here’s another example:
This might stop a particular file type (in this scenario .gif). You could allude to this chart from Google for more general rules and examples.
The concept is so simple.
Whether from all crawlers or specific crawlers, if you don’t allow pages, files or content on your website, then what you need to do is to acquire the proper syntax command and include it to your plain text editor.
When you’ve completely jotted down the commands, now, simply copy and paste it into your robots.txt
Why the robots.txt file should be optimized
I’m sure some of you are musing on why in the world would I wish to footle around with any of this.
Let me tell you something special here. Neither the purpose of your robot.txt file is to fully block the pages nor site content from the search engines.
Rather than, you’re just increasing the efficiency of their crawl budgets. Though, you are telling the bots that they don’t shouldn’t crawl the pages that aren’t created for the public.
Here I brought a summary of how Google’s crawl budget proceeds.
So, it’s divided into two parts:
- Crawl rate limit
- Crawl demand
The crawl rate limit speaks for how many connections a crawler can build up to any provided website. In fact, this also adds the time between in fetches.
Sites, that come with a higher crawl rate limit, are quick to respond which means they could have more connection with that bot than any other website that has a low crawl rate limit. Meanwhile, sites that slow down as the result of crawling wouldn’t be crawled as regularly.
In fact, websites are also crawled based on the requirement. This indicates that famous, popular sites are crawled on a more regular basis. On the other hands, websites are unpopular might not be crawled as a more frequent basis, even if the crawl rate limit has not been satisfied.
If you are improving your robots.txt file, then you’re getting the job of the crawlers done as easy as it needs to be. As Google tells, these are some examples of the elements that have an impact on crawl budgets:
- Session identifiers
- Faceted navigation
- Error pages
- Pages that have been hacked
- Duplicate content
- Infinite spaces and proxies
- Low-quality content
By having had the robots.txt file to not allow this type of content from crawlers, it makes sure that they take up much more time finding and indexing the best content on your site.
Here’s a visual comparison of the websites with and without an optimized robots.txt file. Have a look.
A search engine crawler would take up more time, and as a result more of the crawl budget, on the left site. However, the website on the right confirms that only the best, top content is been crawled.
Here’s a situation where you’ll desire to benefit from the robots.txt file.
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As you know well that duplicate content is unfavourable to SEO. But there are some but not all times when it’s critical to have on your site. For example, some of you would own printer-friendly versions of particular pages. That’s duplicate content. By optimizing your robots.txt syntax, you can let bots know to not crawl that printer-friendly page.
Testing your robots.txt file
Have you discovered, altered, and optimized robots.txt file? Now, it’s time to test everything to sew up that it’s doing the job well.
To complete this, you’ll have to sign into your Google Webmaster account. Navigate to “crawl” from your dashboard.
This can enlarge the menu.
When expanded, you’ll take a look at the “robots.txt Tester” option.
After that, you will see the “test” button in the bottom right corner of the screen. Simply click it.
What you will be doing, if you get any problem there, is to just edit the syntax directly in the tester. Go on with running the tests until everything is
Be privy to those modifications made in the tester are not getting saved to your site. So, you’d need to ensure you copy and paste any modifications into your genuine robots.txt file.
It’s also worth reading that this tool is just to test Google bots as well as crawlers. It may not be able to tell how other search engines will read your robots.txt file.
Believing that Google presides over 89.95 percent of the global search engine market share, I don’t think it’s important to run these tests using any other tools. Nonetheless, I’d leave that decision as to the choice of you.
Robots.txt best practices
If you want to find your robots.txt file, you need to give it a name. But it’s case-sensitive, meaning Robots.txt or robots.TXT will be unacceptable.
The robots.txt file should, every time, be in the root folder of your site in a top-level directory of the host.
Everyone can view your robots.txt file. To see it, they have just to type in the name of your site URL, followed by /robots.txt after the root domain. So, never try to use this to be misleading, since it’s important public information.
For the most part, I don’t recommend having specific rules for different search engine crawlers. I couldn’t see the benefit of having a particular set of rules for Google, and another set of rules for Bing or Yahoo. It’s much clearer if your rules apply to all user-agents.
When you add a disallow syntax to your robots.txt file, it doesn’t mean that it will prevent that page from being index. Rather, you’ll have to use a noindex tag.
Beyond doubt, search engine crawlers are incredibly advanced. They mainly see your site content that same way that the real peeps will. So, if your site used CSS and JS to function, then avoid blocking those folders in your robots.txt file. If crawlers are unable to view a functioning version of your site it can be a big SEO mistake.
If you desire your robots.txt file to be found instantly after it’s the updates, then you should submit it directly to Google, instead of waiting for your site to get crawled.
Link equity may not be proceeded from blocked pages to link destinations. This indicates that links on pages that aren’t allowed would be considered nofollow. So, some links might not index unless they’re on odd webpages that are reachable by search engines.
However, the robot.txt file isn’t a substitute for stopping private user data as well as other pieces of sensitive information from appearing in your SERPs (search engine result page). As I said earlier, the pages which are disallowed can still be indexed. So, what you should do is to ensure that these pages are password protected and also exploit a noindex meta directive.
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Sitemaps need to be placed at the bottom of your robots.txt file.
That’s your basic course on everything you actually need to know about robots.txt files.
I’m well aware that most of this information is a little bit technical, but don’t let that push you around. The basic concepts, as well as applications of your robots.txt, are simple and easy to grip.
Remember, this isn’t something that you’ll need to change so frequently. It’s also very necessary that you test everything out before you save the changes. I’ll recommend you strongly to double and triple-check everything.
One error can bring about a search engine to stop crawling your website altogether. This may hurt your SEO position. So, it’s good to change only those things that are necessary.
Once optimized correctly, your site must be crawled in a competent way by Google’s crawl budget. This increases the possibilities that your best, top content will be noticed, indexed, and ranked appropriately.