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Robots.txt Tester

A robots.txt reader tool interprets the robots.txt file on a website, providing insights into directives that guide web crawlers. It displays rules controlling crawler access, helping users understand and optimize search engine interactions. This tool facilitates SEO analysis and website indexing strategies by revealing how search engines navigate and index content based on specified guidelines. It ensures effective communication between website owners and search engines, influencing online visibility and accessibility.

Robot.txt Rules

Sitemaps

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FAQ

Q1. What is Robots.txt ?

Robots.txt is a text file on websites guiding web robots, such as search engine crawlers, on which pages to crawl or avoid. Placed at the site's root, it employs directives like "User-agent" to specify agents affected and "Disallow" to restrict access to certain sections. For instance, "Disallow: /private/" instructs robots to avoid crawling the "/private/" directory.

Q2. How to find Robots.txt?

To find the robots.txt file for a website, you can simply add "/robots.txt" to the root URL of the website. For example, if the website you want to check is "nextgrowthlabs.com", you would enter "nextgrowthlabs.com/robots.txt" into your web browser's address bar to access the robots.txt file for that site. Another way to find it is using Search engine like Google, Bing, Yandex, Duckduckgo and others have a feature that allows you to search for the robots.txt file of a website. Simply enter "site:example.com robots.txt" into the search bar and it will show you the file if it exists.

Q3. What is Sitemaps ?

A sitemap is a file or list, typically in XML or HTML format, providing a roadmap of a website's structure and content to search engines. It enhances search engine crawling and indexing, enabling efficient navigation and improved SEO by specifying URLs, their update frequency, and relative importance.

Q4 How to generate Robots.txt ?

There are several ways to generate a robots.txt file for your website:
1. Manually create the file: You can create a new text file and save it as "robots.txt" in the root directory of your website. You can then add the appropriate "User-agent" and "Disallow" directives to the file.
2. Use a robots.txt generator: There are several online generators available that can help you create a robots.txt file for your website. These generators will guide you through the process of creating the file and provide you with the necessary code to add to your file.
3. Use a plugin or module: If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, there are plugins and modules available that can help you generate a robots.txt file for your website.

A robots.txt file is a crucial element of technical search engine optimization (SEO). Every website needs a robots.txt file as it gives you more control over the search engine’s movement on your website. So, let’s understand the significance of this file and its best practices. 

Explain Robots.txt File

Robots.txt is a text document generated by website publishers and stored at the root of their website. Its primary purpose is to instruct automated web crawlers, such as search engine bots, regarding which pages to avoid crawling on the website. This is commonly known as the robot exclusion protocol (REP). The REP also includes directives like meta robots, page-subdirectory-, or site-wide information for how search engines should treat links like “follow” and “nofollow.”

It should be noted that the presence of robots.txt does not assure that the URLs marked for exclusion won’t be indexed for search. This is because search engine crawlers or spiders may still discover the existence of these pages through links on other web pages or from previous indexing activities. 

A Robots.txt file is publicly accessible. Simply appending /robots.txt to a domain URL allows anyone to view its robots.txt file. Therefore, it’s advisable to not include files or directories containing sensitive information. Additionally, relying solely on this file is not recommended for protecting private or confidential data from search engines. 

Examples of Robots.txt Files

Consider the following examples of robots.txt files for the website “www.examplesite.com”:

Robots.txt file URL: www.examplesite.com/robots.txt

Preventing all search engine bots from accessing any content-

User-agent: *Disallow: /

Using this syntax in a robots.txt file instructs all search engine bots to not index or crawl any pages on www.examplesite.com, including the main landing page.

Granting access to all search engine bots for all content-

User-agent: *Disallow:

By employing this syntax in a robots.txt file, you allow all search engine bots to crawl and index every page on www.examplesite.com, including the homepage.

Blocking a specific search engine bot from a particular directory-

User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /restricted-directory/

This syntax especially informs Google’s bot (identified by the user-agent name Googlebot) not to crawl any pages within the directory www.examplesite.com/restricted-directory/.

Restricting a specific search engine bot from a particular webpage-

User-agent: Bingbot Disallow: /restricted-directory/blocked-page.html

This syntax specifically instructs Bing’s bot (identified by the user-agent name Bingbot) to refrain from crawling the specific page at www.examplesite.com/restricted-directory/blocked-pahe.html.

Significance of Robots.txt

Search engine bots are programmed to explore and index web pages. By employing a robots.txt file, you can selectively prevent the crawling and indexing of specific pages, directories, or the entire site. This is particularly useful in various scenarios, including:

  • Blocking pages or files that don’t need to be crawled or indexed, such as less significant or similar pages. 
  • Temporarily halting crawling in specific parts of the website during updates. 
  • Specifying the location of your sitemap to search engines.
  • Instructing search engines to disregard specific site files like images, audio and video files, PDFs, etc., preventing them from appearing in search results. 
  • Keeping internal search results pages from showing up on a public SERP.
  • Mitigating server strain by using robots.txt to limit unnecessary crawling, contributing to efficient bot navigation. 
  • Indicating a crawl delay to prevent your servers from being overloaded when crawlers load multiple pieces of content at once.

While these are some of the primary applications of Robots.txt, there are numerous other uses as well. 

Format of Robots.txt File

The fundamental structure of a simple robots.txt file is as follows:

User-agent: [user-agent name]Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]

This pair of lines contributes to the complete robots.txt file. However, a single robots.txt file may consist of multiple lines featuring various user agents and directives, such as disallow, allow, and crawl-delays, among others. In a robots.txt document, each grouping of user-agent directives is distinct, with each set separated by a line break. 

In a robots.txt file encompassing multiple user-agent directives, each disallow or allow rule exclusively pertains to the user-agent(s) specified in that specific line break-separated set. If the file contains a rule applicable to more than one user-agent, a crawler will adhere solely to the most specific set of instructions, following the directives outlined therein.

Where Does Robots.txt Go on a Site?

When search engines and other web-crawling robots, such as Facebook’s Facebot, visit a site, they automatically look for the robots.txt file. However, they specifically look for this file in one location- the main directory, typically the root domain or homepage. 

For example, if a user agent checks “www.example.com/robots.txt” and does not locate a robots file, it assumes the site lacks one and proceeds to crawl all content on the page, potentially even the entire site. 

Even if the robots txt page exists at alternative locations like “example.com/index/robots.txt” or “www.example.com/homepage/robots.txt,” user agents won’t discover it, treating the site as if it has no robots file at all. To ensure the robots.txt file is easily found, it should always be placed in the main directory or root domain. 

Moreover, robots.txt is case sensitive due to which the file must be named “robots.txt” and not Robots.txt or robots.TXT, or any other formats. Some user agents (robots) may opt to disregard your robots.txt file, particularly more malicious crawlers like malware robots or email address scrapers. 

How Does Robots.txt Work?

The two primary tasks of search engines are:

  • Crawling the Web: This involves discovering content by following links across billions of websites. This process, often referred to as “spidering,” is crucial for search engines to navigate the vast web.
  • Indexing Content: Once crawled, the content is indexed to make it accessible to users seeking information.

When a search crawler reaches a website, it checks for a robots.txt file before proceeding with spidering. If found, the crawler reads the file first, as it contains instructions on how the search engine should crawl the site. The directives in the robots.txt file guide the crawler’s actions on that specific site. If the file doesn’t contain any directives that restrict a user-agents activity, or if the site lacks a robots.txt file, the crawler proceeds to crawl other information on that site. 

Technical Robots.txt Syntax

You can think of robots.txt syntax as the language of robots.txt files. Check out these five common terms that you would come across in such a file:

  • User-agent: This is the specific web crawler to which you are giving crawl instructions which is usually a search engine.
  • Disallow: This command tells a user agent not to crawl a particular URL. Only one “Disallow:” line is allowed for each URL.
  • Allow: This command is only applicable to Googlebot. It tells the bot that it can access a page or subfolder even though its parent page or subfolder is disallowed.
  • Crawl-delay: This conveys the number of seconds a crawler should wait before loading and crawling page content. Although Google bot does not acknowledge this command, you can set a crawl rate in Google Search Console. 
  • Sitemap: This command can be used to call out the location of any XML sitemap(s) associated with this URL. It is only supported by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.
  • Pattern Matching: When it comes to the actual URLs to allow or block, robots.txt can be complex as they use pattern-matching to cover a wide range of possibilities when it comes to URL options. Google and Bing allow two regular expressions that can be used to identify pages or sub-folders that an SEO wants to be excluded. These two characters are:
    • Asterisks (*), a wildcard that represents any sequence of characters
    • Dollar sign ($) matches the end of the URL

Is Robots.txt Necessary for a Site?

Every website should include a robots.txt file, even if it is blank. This is because when search engine bots come to your website, the first thing they look for is this file. If no robots.txt file exists on your website, then the spiders are served a 404 (not found) error. Although Google states Googlebot can go on and crawl the site even if there is no robots.txt file, it is recommended to have this file that the bot requests rather than produce an error file.

How to Create Robots.txt Without Errors?

Follow these tips to create proper robots.txt file:

  • Commands are case-sensitive, therefore, use capital letters. For example, “D” for Disallow and “A” for Allow.
  • Always include a space after the colon in the command.
  • When you are excluding an entire directory, put forward a slash before and after the directory name. For example, /directory-name/
  • All files not specially excluded will be included for bots to crawl.

What are the SEO Best Practices When it Comes to Robots.txt?

Follow these SEO guidelines for robots.txt files:

  • Ensure that your website’s important content is not blocked in the robots.txt file to allow proper crawling.
  • Avoid blocking pages with valuable links in a robots.txt, as this prevents link equity transfer and indexing unless alternative blocking methods are used. 
  • Do not rely on robots.txt to hide sensitive data from search results, as other pages may still link to it. Instead, use methods like password protection or the noindex meta directive. 
  • Recognize that search engines may have multiple user agents (e.g., Googlebot for organic search and Googlebot-Image for image search). While most follow the same rules, specifying directives for each allows fine-tuning of content crawling. 
  • Note that search engines cache robots.txt bit usually updates it daily. To expedite updates, submit your robot.txt URL to Google if changes are required sooner.

Benefits of Using a Robots.txt Tester Online

It is important to always check robots.txt online. This is because website publishers can get this wrong, which can negatively impact your SEO strategy. For instance, if you disallow the crawling of important pages or the entire website, your visibility will be significantly impacted in the SERPs. This is where a robots.txt validator comes into play. 

    • Check Proper Configuration: Use the robots testing tool to identify if your URLs are properly allowed or blocked. You can also use the robots checker to assess if the resources for the page (CSS, JavaScript, images) are disallowed. 
    • Save Time and Effort: Automate the checking process through our tool to make the entire process more efficient than manually reviewing the robots.txt file, saving you time and money.
    • Prevent Link Equity Loss: Use this tool to avoid the loss of link equity by highlighting potential problems with blocked links, ensuring that valuable links contribute to your website’s SEO performance.
  • Elevate SEO Performance: Correctly configuring all robots.txt files is vital for SEO. This checker helps you identify and rectify any issues, therefore helps you to mitigate the risk of SEO penalties and maintains a positive relationship with search engines.
  • Keeps Up With Best Practices: Search engine algorithms and best practices may evolve over time. By using this too, you can stay updated with the latest recommendations and ensure your robots.txt file aligns with industry standards.
  • Implement Customized Recommendations: Follow additional suggestions or recommendations based on the best practices to optimize your site for search engines. This will improve your site’s visibility in search engines.

Conclusion 

Thus, robots.txt allows website publishers to give complex directives on how they want bots to crawl their websites. It is crucial to ensure this file is right, otherwise it may end up creating more problems. Use our online robots.txt tool so that every aspect of your file is accurate and up-to-date to ensure optimal performance of your website.