If you are working on the technical SEO, then you need to check and optimize the robots.txt file. If there are any problems and misconfiguration in the robots.txt file, then it can be the reason for causing the critical issue in the SEO that can have a bad impact on the ranking and traffic of your site. You can learn more about the robots.txt file in this blog and then can know why you need it and how you can SEO optimize the file.
What is a robots.txt file?
This is the text file that mainly resides in the root directory of your website and instructs search engine crawlers about the pages that they can index and crawl during the process of indexing and crawling.
You must know that during the indexing and crawling stage, your search engines will try finding the web pages that are available on the public web. While visiting the website, they first check the content of the robot.txt file. They will create the URLs list which they can index and crawl later for a particular website.
Have you ever thought about what will happen if you don’t have the robot.txt file? If no, then you should know if the robot.txt file went missing then the search engine crawler will assume that all the publicly available pages can be crawled to the index.
If the robot.txt file is not well-formatted, then search engines cannot understand the content but they will still access that website and will ignore the content of the robots.txt file.
If you have accidentally blocked the search engines from accessing the website then, it will not index and crawl the pages and will remove any page that is there in the index.
Do I Need the Robots.txt File?
Yes, you must definitely have the robots.txt file even if you don’t want to wish to ignore the directories or any pages of your website from appearing in the search engine results.
Why Use the Robots.txt File?
Have you ever wondered why you need to use the robots.txt file? If no, then it is because of the following reason:
✔ For blocking the search engines from accessing the specific directories or pages of the website.
✔ Indexing and crawling can be called a resource-intensive process if you have a big website. Various search engines crawlers will try to index and crawl your whole website, which can cause performance issues in your site. In a situation like that, you must use the robots.txt for restricting access to a certain part of the website, which is not important from an SEO point of view. This will reduce the load on your server and makes the process of whole indexing faster.
✔ If you have decided to use URL cloaking for affiliating the links, then you should know it is not the same as cloaking the content or the URLs for tricking users or the search engines. However, it is best to process to make the managing of affiliate links easy.
Things to Know about Robots.txt file
✔ Any rules which you add to the robots.txt files are directives which means it is the decision of the search engines whether they want to obey and follow the rules or not. In most cases, they decide to obey whereas, if you don’t want to include the content in the index then you have to password protect the particular page.
✔ The second thing is that even after blocking the page or the directory in the robot, it will still appear in the search results because of the links of the other page already in the index. You can also say that by adding the page in the robots.txt file does not mean it will not appear on the web.
How Robots.txt Works?
The robots.txt file has a simple structure, and you can use some predefined keyword and value combination for that. The most common ones are: disallow, allow, crawl-delay, user-agent, and sitemap. See the example below taken from Google support.
✔ User-Agent: It specifies which crawler will be responsible for the directives. Use an asterisk (*) for referencing all the crawlers.
✔ Allow: This directive will explicitly tell which pages can be accessed, and this is applicable only for the Googlebot. By using the allow directive, you can give access to a specific sub-folder on your site although the parent directory is not allowed.
✔ Disallow: This directive instructs the user-agent for not crawling the URL or any part of the website. Remember the value of the disallow can be anything like a specific URL, directory, or file.
✔ Crawl-Delay: You can specify the crawl-delay value for forcing the search engine crawlers to wait for a specific time before crawling to the next page of your website. You need to know the value added by you for crawl-delay is in the millisecond and remember Googlebot does not take into account the crawl-delay value.
By using the Google Search Console, you can control the crawl rate for Google. If you don’t want to overload the server of yours with the continuous request, then you can use the crawl rate.
✔ Sitemap: This directive is used for specifying the location of your XML Sitemap, even when the location of the XML sitemap is not specified in the robots.txt file.
How Can You Create the Robots.txt File?
For creating the robots.txt file, you need the text editor and access to your website files. Before you begin the process of creating the robots file, you need to see whether you already have the file or not; you can easily do it by opening your favorite browser and then navigating to https://www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt. If you see anything like
Then it will mean that you already have the robots.txt file and you need to edit the file rather than creating a new.
1. How to Edit the Robots.txt file?
- You can use your favorite FTP client and then connect it with your website roots directory. Always remember that the robots.txt file is located in the root folder.
- You need to need to download the file and then open it by using the text editor.
- Make all the necessary changes and then upload the robots.txt file back to your web server.
2. How Can Create the New Robots.txt File?
You can create the new robots.txt file by using the text editor and then adding your directives. After that, you need to save and upload it to the root directory of your website. Make sure you name the file robots.txt and remember that the file name should be in lowercase as it is case-sensitive.
You don’t have to waste too much time while configuring or testing the robots.txt file. You only need one file which you can test by using Google Webmaster Tools so that you can see you are not blocking any search engine crawler from accessing the website.