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

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Search engine optimization, in its a lot of fundamental sense, relies upon one thing above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

But nearly every site is going to have pages that you do not wish to consist of in this exploration.

For instance, do you actually desire your personal privacy policy or internal search pages appearing in Google results?

In a best-case situation, these are not doing anything to drive traffic to your site actively, and in a worst-case, they might be diverting traffic from more important pages.

Luckily, Google enables webmasters to tell online search engine bots what pages and content to crawl and what to ignore. There are several methods to do this, the most common being using a robots.txt file or the meta robots tag.

We have an exceptional and detailed description of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you ought to absolutely read.

However in high-level terms, it’s a plain text file that lives in your website’s root and follows the Robots Exclusion Procedure (REPRESENTATIVE).

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

Some meta robotics tags you might use include index, which tells search engines to add the page to their index; noindex, which tells it not to include a page to the index or include it in search results page; follow, which advises a search engine to follow the links on a page; nofollow, which tells it not to follow links, and an entire host of others.

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

What Is The X-Robots-Tag?

The X-Robots-Tag is another method for you to manage how your websites are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header reaction to a URL, it controls indexing for an entire page, along with the specific elements on that page.

And whereas using meta robotics tags is fairly uncomplicated, the X-Robots-Tag is a bit more complex.

But this, of course, raises the concern:

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 directives in the headers of an HTTP reaction with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are certain circumstances where you would want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag– the two most typical being when:

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

For example, if you want to block a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP response approach makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also useful due to the fact that it permits you to integrate numerous tags within an HTTP action or use a comma-separated list of directives to define instructions.

Maybe you do not want a certain page to be cached and want it to be not available after a specific date. You can use a mix of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to instruct online search engine bots to follow these directions.

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

The advantage of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it allows you to use regular expressions to perform crawl instructions on non-HTML, along with apply specifications on a bigger, international level.

To assist you understand the distinction in between these regulations, it’s handy to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer instructions?

Here’s an useful cheat sheet to discuss:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user agent, allow, prohibit, and sitemap directives to specify where on-site search engine bots are permitted to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– enables you to define and avoid online search engine from showing particular pages on a website in search results page.

Nofollow– allows you to define links that should not hand down 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 want to obstruct particular file types. A perfect technique would be to add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache setup or a.htaccess file.

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

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

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

Let’s state we wanted search engines not to index.pdf file types. This configuration on Apache servers would look something like the below:

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

In Nginx, it would look like the listed below:

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

Now, let’s look at a different situation. Let’s say we want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to block image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, and so on, from being indexed. You might do this with an X-Robots-Tag that would look like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”

Please note that understanding how these regulations work and the impact they have on one another is essential.

For instance, what happens if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robots tag lie when spider bots discover a URL?

If that URL is obstructed from robots.txt, then specific indexing and serving regulations can not be found and will not be followed.

If instructions are to be followed, then the URLs consisting of those can not be prohibited from crawling.

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

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

The most convenient method to inspect is to set up a web browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag info about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exemption Checker, December 2022

Another plugin you can utilize to identify whether an X-Robots-Tag is being utilized, for instance, is the Web Developer plugin.

By clicking on the plugin in your web browser and browsing to “View Reaction Headers,” you can see the various HTTP headers being used.

Another approach that can be used for scaling in order to pinpoint concerns on sites with a million pages is Shouting Frog

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

This will reveal you which areas of the website are using the tag, along with which particular directives.

Screenshot of Screaming Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Using X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Comprehending and managing how search engines connect with your website is

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

and deindex your entire site. That said, if you’re reading this piece, you’re most likely not an SEO novice.

So long as you use it wisely, take your time and check your work, you’ll discover the X-Robots-Tag to be a helpful addition to your arsenal. More Resources: Included Image: Song_about_summer/ Best SMM Panel