Everything You Need To Learn About The X-Robots-Tag HTTP Header

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Seo, in its a lot of basic sense, relies upon something above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

However nearly every website is going to have pages that you don’t wish to include in this exploration.

For instance, do you truly desire your privacy policy or internal search pages showing up in Google results?

In a best-case scenario, these are doing nothing to drive traffic to your site actively, and in a worst-case, they might be diverting traffic from more important pages.

Luckily, Google allows web designers to tell search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to neglect. There are several methods to do this, the most common being utilizing a robots.txt file or the meta robots tag.

We have an exceptional and in-depth description of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you must certainly check out.

But in top-level terms, it’s a plain text file that resides in your website’s root and follows the Robots Exclusion Protocol (ASSOCIATE).

Robots.txt provides crawlers with directions about the website as an entire, while meta robotics tags include instructions for particular pages.

Some meta robotics tags you may utilize consist of index, which informs online search engine to include the page to their index; noindex, which informs it not to include a page to the index or include it in search results; follow, which advises an online search engine to follow the links on a page; nofollow, which tells it not to follow links, and a whole host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robots tags work tools to keep in your tool kit, however there’s also another method to advise search engine bots to noindex or nofollow: the X-Robots-Tag.

What Is The X-Robots-Tag?

The X-Robots-Tag is another way for you to manage how your websites are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header action to a URL, it controls indexing for an entire page, in addition to the specific components on that page.

And whereas utilizing meta robotics tags is fairly straightforward, the X-Robots-Tag is a bit more complicated.

But this, obviously, raises the question:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any regulation that can be used in a robotics meta tag can likewise be specified as an X-Robots-Tag.”

While you can set robots.txt-related regulations in the headers of an HTTP action with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are particular scenarios where you would want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most typical being when:

  • You want to manage how your non-HTML files are being crawled and indexed.
  • You want to serve instructions site-wide instead of on a page level.

For instance, if you want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP response method makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also beneficial because it enables you to integrate numerous tags within an HTTP action or utilize a comma-separated list of directives to define directives.

Perhaps you don’t want a certain page to be cached and desire it to be not available after a particular date. You can use a combination of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to advise search engine bots to follow these guidelines.

Essentially, the power of the X-Robots-Tag is that it is far more versatile than the meta robots tag.

The advantage of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP reactions is that it enables you to utilize regular expressions to execute crawl instructions on non-HTML, along with apply parameters on a bigger, worldwide level.

To help you understand the distinction between these directives, it’s practical to categorize them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer regulations?

Here’s an useful cheat sheet to describe:

Spider Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user agent, permit, disallow, and sitemap instructions to define where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not enabled to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– enables you to specify and avoid search engines from showing specific pages on a website in search results page.

Nofollow– enables you to define links that should not pass on authority or PageRank.

X-Robots-tag– enables you to manage how defined file types are indexed.

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you wish to obstruct specific file types. A perfect method would be to add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache configuration or a.htaccess file.

The X-Robots-Tag can be added to a website’s HTTP reactions in an Apache server configuration via.htaccess file.

Real-World Examples And Uses Of The X-Robots-Tag

So that sounds great in theory, but what does it look like in the real world? Let’s take a look.

Let’s say we wanted online search engine not to index.pdf file types. This setup on Apache servers would look something like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”

In Nginx, it would appear like the listed below:

area ~ * . pdf$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s take a look at a various circumstance. Let’s state we wish to use the X-Robots-Tag to block image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, etc, from being indexed. You could do this with an X-Robots-Tag that would appear like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”

Please keep in mind that comprehending how these directives work and the effect they have on one another is essential.

For instance, what takes place if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag lie when spider bots find a URL?

If that URL is blocked from robots.txt, then particular indexing and serving instructions can not be found and will not be followed.

If regulations are to be followed, then the URLs including those can not be disallowed from crawling.

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

There are a few various techniques that can be used to look for an X-Robots-Tag on the site.

The simplest way to check is to install an internet browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag information about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exemption Checker, December 2022

Another plugin you can use to figure out whether an X-Robots-Tag is being used, for example, is the Web Designer plugin.

By clicking on the plugin in your browser and browsing to “View Response Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being utilized.

Another method that can be used for scaling in order to identify concerns on sites with a million pages is Yelling Frog

. After running a website through Screaming Frog, you can browse to the “X-Robots-Tag” column.

This will show you which sections of the website are using the tag, together with which particular directives.

Screenshot of Shouting Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Using X-Robots-Tags On Your Site Comprehending and managing how search engines communicate with your site is

the cornerstone of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is an effective tool you can use to do simply that. Simply understand: It’s not without its threats. It is extremely simple to make a mistake

and deindex your entire website. That stated, if you read this piece, you’re probably not an SEO novice.

So long as you utilize it sensibly, take your time and examine your work, you’ll find the X-Robots-Tag to be a beneficial addition to your toolbox. More Resources: Included Image: Song_about_summer/ Best SMM Panel