If you’re like most small business owners, you’re always looking for ways to improve your website’s SEO. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is by using a Robot.txt file. In this blog post, we will teach you how to use a Robot.txt file to increase your website’s SEO!
What is a Robot.txt File?
A Robot.txt file instructs search engine crawlers which pages on your website they can index and crawl. By restricting some pages from being indexed, you may prevent bots from accessing specific folders or files on your website.
Why Use a Robot.txt File?
There are many reasons why you might want to use a Robot.txt file on your website. Some of the most common reasons include:
Prevent duplicate content from being indexed by search engines
Prohibit access to sensitive or private files/folders on your site
Ensure that only approved bots are crawling your website, you can see this (e.g. to protect against spambots)
Improve website performance by excluding unnecessary files from being crawled
How to Use a Robot.txt File?
Here are some simple steps to take to implement your own Robot.txt file:
Add a text file called “Robot.txt” (no quotes) to the root folder of your website. If you have multiple domain names pointing to the same website. You will need to create a separate Robot.txt file, For each top-level domain (e.g. www, non-www).
Use your chosen text editor to edit the file and add your instructions. A new line will be used to separate each directive. The instructions should be kept to a maximum of 1-3 lines. Typically, robot.txt files are limited to two lines and can be found here.
Ensure that the file is world-readable (e.g. not hidden) so that search engines can read it easily. You may need to create a folder called “public_html” or “private” or “restricted” . Some other name if your server is using a security feature to restrict access to certain folders.
Add your directives by creating new lines in the file with the directives you wish to block robots from indexing and crawling. Here is a sample of what a file could look like:
What is the purpose of a robot.txt file?
The simplest answer is that it allows you to control access to files on your website. You can block crawlers from accessing any URL or folder on your site. Including your CMS login pages, error pages, scripts, and other files that are not meant to be accessed by users.
What are the best directives for a robot.txt file?
The best directives for your Robot.txt file vary depending on what you want to accomplish and how much access you want to grant to crawlers. Here are some of the most frequently-used directives that you should include in your robot.txt file:
This directive is the most commonly used in a Robot.txt file. It tells search engines to not index any of the files on a given site.
This directive tells search engines to index a specific file or folder. But only if it’s at the root of your website and you have permission to both host it and access it from search crawlers. For example, if you want Google only to allow access to your homepage and not comment nuke. You could create 2 directives: “allow”: “.” and “allow: /comment-admin” (note the trailing slash after the “.“).
This directive tells search engines to not index a specific file or folder.
Is there a limit on the number of directives per file?
Use a text editor that allows you to add comments (e.g. NotePad++) if you’re having trouble discovering comments in your website’s code. Then copy and paste necessary code snippets into the text file’s rule directives section. Limited to two lines, although they can be extended if necessary.
Can I use a .txt extension instead of .txt?
No, you can only use a .txt extension in the name of your Robot.txt file. If you do have to have a non-text file in your site’s root directory. So, simply create an additional folder called “public_html” or “private,” etc., and place the non-text file in this folder instead of your website’s root directory.
What happens if I try to access a file that Robots.txt forbids? Is there a notification informing me that there is a problem?
If you visit such files, search engines that actively crawl your website will create errors and warnings. If a robot stumbles across a file that it shouldn’t be able to access, it will simply disregard it and continue crawling the “allow” sites on your website.
Which search do engines use Robot.txt files?
Google Webmaster Tool, Bing Webmaster Tracker, Ask Search, MSN Search, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and other search engines use Robot.txt files to help them crawl your site more efficiently. Also bear in mind that if you add specific directives for any of these search engines to your site’s pages, So Google will consider such directives as “authoritative” and will therefore more actively index them when crawling your website (e.g. URL snippets).
Can I use other filenames in place of Robot.txt?
No, you can only use the keyword Robot.txt as the file name of a text file in your site’s root directory. If you really need to use a different name, and simply create an additional folder called “public_html” or “private,” etc., and place it in this folder instead of your website’s root directory.
How often should I update my robot.txt file?
As often as needed and whenever you make changes to your site that may impact your search engine rankings or traffic levels (e.g. adding new pages, and changing existing files on your website). This will help search engines identify the updated robots rules on your website and follow them in place of the older rules.
Are there any other tips that I should be aware of?
Engines from indexing specific folders and files. You do not need to use specific formatting or style or have certain keywords included in your directives (e.g. “User-agent”). Also, there is no best or standard format for a Robot file. Create new lines with new directives and separate each directive with a new line. Also, keep in mind that search engines will experience a certain amount of lag time when updating their robot’s rules for your new files and folders.
What is the “index” directive?
The noindex directive instructs search engines not to index any of your website’s files or folders (e.g. you want Google not to index your error page). If your website does not have a Robot.txt file, this will be treated as a “allow all,” and Google will index all pages in your site’s root directory and obey any additional instructions placed on each page.
It is not necessary to create a Robot.txt file for your website, but it can help alleviate crawl issues and reduce the time it takes for search engines to access your files and folders. This will allow you to keep better track of any modifications made to your website’s code and maintain control over the pages indexed by search engines. Furthermore, if another site links to your material, not having such a file can result in severe SEO concerns.