Robots.txt is a plain text-formatted file. The main purpose of a Robots.txt file is to direct search engine crawlers regarding which URLs they can use to gain entry into your website. It is not designed to keep certain web pages off of search engine results but rather to help your site not be overloaded by automated requests.
A part of the standard known as robots exclusion protocol, Robots.txt files essentially provide instructions to the bots on how to crawl your website and which pages need to be indexed. This direction is very useful because there will be pages of your website you don’t want or need indexed, like the admin page.
It is important to remember that Google has a crawl budget. The crawl budget is basically the number of domains (URLs) that Google’s bots can crawl before they penalize you. If crawling your site takes longer than average, your ranking will suffer the consequences.
Since the crawl budget exists and you don’t want crawlers to waste valuable time on low-value URLs, excluding the less important pages would be in your best interest. Utilizing the robots exclusions protocol, you have the ability to add these pages to your Robots.txt file to be assured the specific pages will not be crawled or indexed.
Some examples of pages that would be classified as low-value:
Duplicate content on your site
Thank you pages
Shopping cart pages
Category or tag pages
None of these need to be crawled to reach your SEO goals.
Within your Robots.txt file, there may be a few phrases that you don’t quite understand.
Typically, this is found at the very last line of your Robots.txt file. An XML sitemap is a file that details a website’s important pages to ensure that they aren’t missed by search engine crawlers. Its purpose in your Robots.txt file is to alert search engines to where they can locate your sitemap, which makes crawling and indexing your site much easier.
In your Robots.txt file, you will see the word ‘disallow’ followed directly by a URL slug, which is the precise address of a specific page on your website. This word is an actionable phrase directed towards the user-agent, which is always a line above.
This section is where you can add in your low-value pages to be excluded from being crawled.
Every search engine comes equipped with its own crawler. The most commonly recognized is Google’s Googlebot. The user-agent speaks directly to search engine crawl bots, informing them that they have a list of instructions specifically for them.
An asterisk almost always follows the user-agent term. This asterisk is also widely known as a ‘wildcard.’ The purpose of this wildcard is to signify to search engines that the following set of instructions is important.
Our completely free Robots.txt Generator tool is built for website owners, SEO marketers, and anyone else who wants to make crawling their site easier. No advanced technical knowledge or experience is needed to get started.
Please bear in mind that crafting a Robots.txt file can majorly affect Google’s ability to access your website if not done correctly.
Seamless integration into your website is the preferred plan, but if you mess up somewhere, Google may not be able to crawl and index your high-value pages. If that happens, your SEO ranking will surely be negatively affected.
Even with our tool making the process as simplistic as possible, it is recommended that you gain a full understanding of Google’s instructions on Robots.txt files. This way, you can know for sure you implemented the file correctly.
Some people aren’t sure if their site already has a Robots.txt file. To find out, all you need to do is enter www.yourdomainhere.com/txt into the search bar. If an error page appears, you do not have a Robots.txt file at the moment.
The amount of time it takes to crawl and index your website plays a factor in your search engine result page ranking. Tip the balance in your favor by using Cipher Digital’s Robots.txt Generator to make crawling your website as easy as possible.