Robots.txt Ultimate Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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When you optimize a website, the robots.txt file is one of the factors that you need to pay attention to. Some bot crawling into the website is necessary, especially bots related to search engines.

Of course, the purpose of robots txt is none other than to make websites easier to find in search engines, such as Google or Bing. This is where the role of the robots.txt file is very important, to allow or deny crawling by search engines.

The main task of web robots is to crawl or scan websites and pages to collect information. To use it, you need to know how to set up the TXT robot. Web robots operate non-stop to collect the data that search engines and other applications need. After implementation, the robots.txt file allows web crawlers and bots to know the information.

In this guide, we will share information about what Robots TXT is and what its function is on websites. Below is complete information.


What is Robots.txt?


What is Robots.txt?

Robot txt files are a collection of useful hints to tell search engine bots what pages they can and cannot crawl. This file directs crawlers to access or avoid certain pages.

Simply, Robots.txt is generally located in the root of the website. For example, www.yourdomain.com will include a robots.txt file at www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt. The document consists of one or more rules that allow or restrict access by crawlers.

By default, all files are allowed to be crawled unless an exception is specified. The robots.txt file is the initial element that crawlers check when exploring a site.

Websites should only have one robots.txt file. These files exist on specific pages or entire sites to organize information from search engines about your website.

Functions of Robot.txt


The robots.txt file plays an important role in managing web crawler activities. That way, the website isn't burdened by excessive crawling or unnecessarily indexing pages. Here are some of the functions of the txt robot:

1. Optimize Crawl Budget


Crawl budget refers to the number of pages Google will need to crawl on your site in a certain time period. This number may vary depending on the size of the site and the number of backlinks.

If the number of pages on your site exceeds your crawl budget, it is likely that some pages will not be indexed by Google. As a result, pages that are not indexed will not appear in search results.

It is important that you use robots.txt to block unnecessary pages. That way, Googlebot (Google's web crawler) will spend more of its crawl budget on only important pages.

2. Block Duplicate and Non-Public Pages


Crawler bots don't need to index every page on your site, especially those not intended to be published in search results. Some content management systems, for example WordPress, automatically prohibit crawler access to the login page (/wp-admin/).

By using robots.txt, you can easily block crawler access to these pages.

3. Hiding Resources


There are situations when you want to prevent indexation of resources such as PDFs, videos, and images in search results. This aims to maintain confidentiality or ensure Google focuses on more important content.

By using a robot txt generator, you can arrange for these resources not to appear because they are not indexed.

In essence, robots.txt allows data on a site to be protected. You can choose pages that you don't want to be indexed so you can only optimize important pages.

4. Prevent Duplicate Content from Appearing on SERPs


The robots.txt file can help prevent duplicate content from appearing in search engine results (SERPs). Although you need to remember that using the robot meta tag is often a more effective choice.

5. Maintain the Privacy of Certain Parts of the Site


The robots.txt file is useful for maintaining several areas of the site. For example, the development or staging section remains fixed and not exposed to search engine crawls.

6. Determine the Sitemap Location


This file is useful for showing the location of the sitemap on a website. As a result, it can provide clear guidance to search engines.

7. Determine the Crawling Delay


This file allows you to set a crawl delay. This can help prevent server overload when crawlers try to load a lot of content at once.


How Robots.txt Files Work?


How to set up a robot txt serves as a guide for search engine bots regarding which URLs can appear and which ones are unnecessary.

Search engines like Google have two main goals. The first is surfing the web to find content. Then indexes and presents content to searchers who are looking for information.

When a search engine bot crawls a website, it follows the links from one site to another through millions of links, pages, and websites. However, before performing any other action, the bot will check the robots.txt file if it exists.

The rule is to identify search engine bots. Then, there are directions (rules). In rules like this, there is a replacement for the asterisk (*) so that the rule applies to all bots.

Although the robots.txt file provides instructions, it does not have the ability to enforce rules. The file is more like a code of ethics. Bots that act well will obey the rules, but bots, such as spam bots, can ignore them.

How to Set Robot TXT


How to Set Robot TXT

To create a robots.txt file, you can use the robots.txt generator tool or create it manually. Here are the steps:

1. Create a File Name Robots.txt


To create a txt robot, start by opening a .txt document. You can use a text editor or web browser.

Make sure not to use a word processor because word processing applications often save files in special formats that can add random characters. Next, name the document robots.txt.

2. Set a User Agent in the Robots.txt File


The next step is to set the user-agent associated with the crawler or search engine that you want to allow or block. There are three different ways to configure user agents:

a. Creating One User Agent


Example of how to set user-agent

User-agent: DuckDuckBot

b. Creating More Than One User Agent


Example of how to set more than one user-agent

User-agent: DuckDuckBot
User-agent: Facebot

c. Setting All Crawlers as User Agents


Example of how to set all crawlers as user-agent

User-agent: *

3. Add Instructions to the Robots.txt File


The robots.txt file consists of one or more groups of directives. Each group consists of several lines of instructions. Each group starts with “user-agent” and includes information about the user agent, accessible and inaccessible directories, and sitemaps (optional).

The robots.txt file is read in batches where each batch defines rules for one or more user agents. Here are the rules.

  • Disallow: Specifies pages or directories that are not permitted to be crawled by a particular user agent.
  • Allow: Specifies the pages or directories that a particular user agent is allowed to crawl.
  • Sitemap: Provides a sitemap location for the website.

Setting TXT Robot to allow access to all pages:

User-agent: * 
Allow: /

To avoid Google crawling the /clients/ directory, you can create the first referral group with the following blogger robot txt settings:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /clients/

Then you can add additional instructions on the next line like:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /clients/
Disallow: /not-for-google

After you have finished setting up the robot txt in WordPress using specific instructions for Googlebot, create a new group of instructions. This group is for all search engines and prevents them from crawling the /archive/ and /support/ directories:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /clients/
Disallow: /not-for-google

User-agent: *
Disallow: /archive/
Disallow: /support/

After completing the instructions, add a sitemap:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /clients/
Disallow: /not-for-google

User-agent: *
Disallow: /archive/
Disallow: /support/

Sitemap: https://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml

4. Upload the Robots.txt File


After saving the robots.txt file, upload the file to your website so search engines can access it. How to install robot txt and upload it depends on your site's file structure and hosting provider.

5. Test Robots.txt


There are several ways to test and ensure that your robots.txt file is working properly. Examples include using the robots.txt tester in Google Search Console or a testing tool such as the robots.txt Validator from Merkle, Inc. or the Test robots.txt tool from Ryte.

Through these tools, you can identify and correct syntax or logic errors that may be present in the robots.txt file.

Test whether the robots.txt file is publicly accessible by opening a private window in your browser and searching for the file. For example, https://www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt. Be sure to verify the search engine's ability to read this file.

Next, test the robots.txt file using the robots.txt Tester in Google Search Console. Choose a property that suits your site. That way ultimately the tool will identify warnings or syntax errors.

Note that changes to these tools do not directly affect the site. You need to copy the changes to the robots.txt file on your site.

Finally, the Audit tool can help check for problems with the robots.txt file. After setting up the project and auditing the web, check the “Issues” tab and search for “robots.txt” to see if there are any errors. So that's how to set up the robots.txt file that you can understand.


How to use robots.txt file for SEO?


How to use robots.txt file for SEO

After knowing how to set robot txt, now is the time for you to optimize the file. How to optimize robots.txt mainly depends on the type of content on your site. Here are some common ways to take advantage of it.

One effective use of the robots.txt file is to maximize search engine crawl budgets. You can optimize robots.txt through SEO plugins such as Yoast, Rankmath, All in One SEO, and the like.

One way to set robot txt in Yoast or other SEO plugins so that it is optimal is by telling search engines not to crawl parts of the site that are not displayed to the public.

For example, if you look at a website, the search engine does not display the login page (wp-admin). Because the page is only for accessing the back end of the site, it is inefficient for search engine bots to crawl it.

You may be wondering what types of pages you should exclude from indexation. Here are some general suggestions for optimizing SEO robot TXT pages.

a. Duplicate content


In some cases, there is a need to have a printer-friendly version of a page or perform separate testing on pages with the same content. In this condition, you can tell the bot not to crawl one of these versions.

b. Thank you page


You can access the thank you page via Google. In other words, blocking it ensures only qualified prospects can view the page.

c. Use of noindex directive


The goal is to ensure that certain pages are not indexed. Then use the noindex directive along with the disallow command.

d Nofollow directive


The goal is to prevent bots from crawling links on a page. Next, use the nofollow directive in the source code of the page.

Note that the noindex and nofollow instructions are not included in the robots.txt file. But you can apply it directly to pages or links in the source code.

You can pay attention to several ways to set robot txt in order to optimize SEO by using robots.txt. The steps are quite easy, right? Hope this helps and keep following the latest article updates about SEO on Erzedka.com.

How to Check Robots.txt from Google Search Console


After uploading the Robots.txt file, the next thing you need to do is test the script via the Google Search Console (GSC) tool. For this part, you can log in to the GSC account connected to your website.

If you haven't added your website to Google Search Console, then you can register it first. Next, you can access the robots testing tools and select the website you want to test.

For brevity, you can directly visit the anchor text that we provided previously. If the bot file has appeared, then you can press the “Test” button available to start testing the file.

How to Check Robots.txt from Google Search Console

After that, you can see the test results at the bottom. If the results match the instructions in your Robots.txt file, then the file has functioned according to its function.

Apart from using robots testing tools, you can actually also test this file by using other free online tools. Some of the free tools that we mean are SEO Site Checkup, Website Planet, and technicalseo.com.

Robots.txt vs Meta Tags, What's the Difference?


To this day, there are still many beginner bloggers who mistakenly think that meta tags and Robots.txt are the same thing. At first glance, both of them have the same function, namely giving signals to search engines about which pages can be crawled and which cannot.

Examples of meta tags themselves are "noindex", "follow", and "nofollow". Even though their functions are similar, they both have very basic differences.

Launching from the Search Engine Journal page, Robots.txt has a function to give commands to crawler bots regarding crawling all website pages. Meanwhile, the meta tag in this case only focuses on providing instructions for one specific page.

Apart from that, along with developments in the SEO world today, you can easily set meta tags through a number of SEO plugins, such as Rank Math and Yoast SEO. However, for this bot file, you have to apply it manually. In other words, you must be quite fluent with HTML and databases.


Conclusion


In conclusion, Robots.txt is a file containing instructions for crawler bots to a website. This instruction determines whether the bot can crawl all website pages or only some.

In SEO practice, setting this file is very important to prevent a number of important pages of the website from being crawled by search engine bots and indexed in SERP. However, when setting this file, you have to be careful because if you enter the command incorrectly, it can impact website indexing.
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