Robots.txt is a text file located in the root directory of a website. It is also known as the robots exclusion standard.
What is the purpose of robots.txt? Robots.txt is used to communicate with web crawlers, an Internet bot that methodically browses the web, and other types of web robots, which are software that run automated tasks. Some of the tasks that a web robot performs include running scripts over the Internet.
Robots.txt is a file that informs the robots that are sent out by search engines which pages they can overlook and which they should crawl. Robots.txt is commonly used to categorize and archive web pages. If you specify in the robots.txt file that you don’t want your “about me” page, for example, to show up in the results on a search engine, users will not find it. This may be implemented to protect privacy or to improve search engine optimization. If you have duplicate pages on your website, you might have robots.txt block on so that it doesn’t hurt your SEO. Some pages simply don’t need to be seen by everyone searching the web. If you have a “thank you,” page, the only people who need to see it are people who answered a call-to-action on your websit such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. You don’t want a “thank you” page appearing in search engine results.
How does robots.txt work? Search engines send out robots, also known as crawlers or spiders, to search websites to discover content. Before the crawlers can do their job though, the robots.txt files will tell them how. If there are no instructions for thr crawler to follow, it will move on and crawl other information.
The benefits of using robots.txt include:
- Keeping dupicated pages off of search engine results pages
- Keeping resources, such as bandwidth, under control. If your website has a lot of content, such as images and scripts, you want them to be more difficult to access. This allows the crawlers to focus on important areas.
- Helping with budget. A crawler knows how many pages it’s allowed to crawl before it arrives to the website. In SEO terms, this is known as a “crawl budget.”
There are disadvatages to robots.txt as well. Some of these include:
- Robots.txt directives aren’t supported by all search engines. Some web crawlers, especially quality one, will usually follow directions, but others may not.
- Crawlers may interpret syntax differently. Being aware of the correct syntax can help to avoid this problem.
- An incorrect setting may cause a search engine to delete all indexed data.
It is important to keep your robots.txt file updated. This should be done any time you add new pages, directories, or files to your website that you don’t want to be indexed by search engines. By keeping robots.txt updated you will keep any personal information out of search engine results and your website as secure as possible. Knowing how to implement robots.txt can also greatly benefit your search engine optimization, which will in turn help increase visits to your website as well as conversions and revenue.