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What Is Robots.txt & How to Create a Robots.txt File?

NIDMM ~ Modified: June 23rd, 2023 ~ SEO ~ 6 Minutes Reading

What Is Robots.txt & How to Create a Robots.txt File

Do you know what Robots.txt is and how to create one?

It is a text file used to communicate instructions to web bots or crawlers, such as search engine bots, on how to interact with a website’s content.

In the realm of website development and search engine optimization (SEO), one essential file that plays a significant role is the robots.txt file. This small yet powerful file informs search engine crawlers about which parts of a website should be crawled and indexed.

In this article, we will explore what robots.txt is, why it is important, and how to create a robots.txt file effectively.

What Is Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a crucial text file that contains instructions for search engine robots, also known as web crawlers or spiders.

Its purpose is to guide these automated agents as to which pages they should or should not crawl and index. By utilizing “allow” or “disallow” directives, webmasters can specify the desired behaviour for certain or all bots.

Why Is Robots.txt Important?

what is robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file that plays a crucial role in the management of web crawling and indexing by search engines. The text file can be found in a website’s root directory. Additionally, it serves to inform web robots, also referred to as web crawlers or spiders, on how to engage with the website’s content.

The robots.txt file is important for the following reasons:

1. Control over Crawling

The robots.txt file allows website owners to control which parts of their site should be crawled by search engine robots and which parts should be excluded. Website owners can prevent search engines from indexing sensitive or private information, duplicate content, or other sections that are not intended for public access by specifying the directories or pages that should not be crawled.

2. Improved Crawl Efficiency

Search engine robots crawl websites to index their content and make it available in search results. By using the robots.txt file, website owners can guide these crawlers to focus on the most important and relevant parts of their site. This helps search engines allocate their resources efficiently and ensures that the most valuable content is indexed promptly.

3. Protection of Confidential Information

Some directories or files on a website may contain confidential or sensitive information that should not be accessible to search engines. The robots.txt file allows website owners to restrict access to these areas, preventing them from appearing in search engine results and reducing the risk of sensitive data exposure.

4. Managing Search Engine Guidelines

Search engines often provide guidelines and best practices for webmasters to follow in order to improve their site’s visibility and rankings. The robots.txt file can be used to comply with these guidelines, such as preventing the crawling of certain types of files (e.g., PDFs, images) or blocking specific bots that are known to cause issues or consume excessive resources.

5. Preserving Bandwidth and Server Resources

Web crawling consumes server resources and bandwidth. By using the robots.txt file, website owners can control the rate at which search engine robots crawl their site, preventing excessive requests that may overload the server or negatively impact the user experience for regular visitors.

How to Create a Robots.txt File?

Certainly! Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for creating a robots.txt file:

Step 1: Determine the website’s structure and content access requirements

  • Before creating a robots.txt file, it’s essential to understand which parts of your website you want to allow or disallow search engine crawlers from accessing.
  • Make a list of directories, files, or specific patterns that you want to control access to.

Step 2: Choose a plain text editor

  • To create a robots.txt file, you can use any plain text editor, such as Notepad (Windows), TextEdit (Mac), or any code editor like Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, etc.

Step 3: Create a new file

  • Open your chosen plain text editor and create a new file.

Step 4: Begin with user agent directives

  • User-agent directives specify which search engine crawlers the rules apply to.
  • Common user agents include User-agent: * (applies to all crawlers) or specific ones like User-agent: Googlebot (applies only to Google’s crawler).
  • Add one or more user agent directives to the robots.txt file, depending on your needs.

Step 5: Specify access rules

  • Use the Disallow directive to indicate which directories or files should not be crawled.
  • For example, to block access to a specific directory, add a line like Disallow: /directory/.
  • To block access to multiple directories or files, add multiple Disallow directives.
  • Use Allow directives to override any previous Disallow rules and specify exceptions.
  • Remember to include a trailing slash for directories (e.g., /directory/) to ensure consistent behaviour across different crawlers.

Step 6: Add additional directives (optional)

  • The robots.txt file supports other directives to specify additional instructions.
  • For example, you can use Crawl-delay to specify the time delay between successive requests by crawlers.
  • Other directives include Sitemap (to specify the location of your sitemap XML file), Host (to indicate the preferred domain name), and more.

Step 7: Save the file

  • After adding all the necessary rules and directives, save the file as robots.txt.
  • Make sure to save it in the root directory of your website.

Step 8: Test the robots.txt file

  • Before deploying the robots.txt file to your live website, it’s advisable to test it using tools like Google’s Robots.txt Tester or other online validators.
  • These tools can help identify any syntax errors or potential issues that could impact crawler access.

Step 9: Upload the robots.txt file

  • Connect to your website’s server using FTP or any other file transfer method.
  • Go to your website’s root directory.
  • To the root directory, upload the robots.txt file.

Step 10: Verify the robots.txt file

  • Once uploaded, you can verify if the robots.txt file is accessible by visiting in a web browser.
  • Ensure that the file is visible and contains the expected rules and directives.

That’s it! You have successfully created a robots.txt file for your website. Remember to periodically review and update the file as your website’s structure and access requirements change.