Everything You Required 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: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

But almost every website is going to have pages that you do not wish to consist of in this expedition.

For example, do you truly desire your privacy policy or internal search pages appearing 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.

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

We have an excellent and detailed explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you should definitely check out.

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

Robots.txt offers crawlers with instructions about the website as an entire, while meta robotics tags consist of instructions for particular pages.

Some meta robots tags you may use consist of index, which tells search engines to add 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 robotics tags work tools to keep in your tool kit, however there’s likewise 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 web pages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it manages indexing for a whole page, along with the specific elements on that page.

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

However this, obviously, 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 also be defined as an X-Robots-Tag.”

While you can set robots.txt-related instructions in the headers of an HTTP response with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific situations where you would wish to use the X-Robots-Tag– the two most common being when:

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

For example, if you wish to block a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP action approach makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise useful because it allows you to combine several tags within an HTTP response or use a comma-separated list of instructions to specify instructions.

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

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

The benefit of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP actions is that it enables you to use regular expressions to execute crawl directives on non-HTML, in addition to apply parameters on a bigger, international level.

To assist you understand the difference between these directives, it’s useful to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer instructions?

Here’s a convenient cheat sheet to explain:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user agent, permit, prohibit, and sitemap directives to define where on-site online search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not enabled to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– permits you to specify and avoid online search engine from revealing specific pages on a site in search results page.

Nofollow– permits you to specify links that should not pass on authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you want to block specific file types. An ideal method 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 site’s HTTP responses in an Apache server configuration via.htaccess file.

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

So that sounds fantastic in theory, but what does it appear like in the real life? Let’s have 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 appear like the listed below:

area ~ *. pdf$

Now, let’s look at a various situation. Let’s state we want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to obstruct image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, etc, 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 keep in mind that comprehending how these regulations work and the impact they have on one another is crucial.

For instance, what happens if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag are located when crawler bots find a URL?

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

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

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

There are a couple of various techniques that can be utilized to look for an X-Robots-Tag on the website.

The easiest way to examine is to install an internet 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 figure out whether an X-Robots-Tag is being used, for instance, is the Web Developer plugin.

By clicking the plugin in your internet browser and navigating to “View Response Headers,” you can see the numerous HTTP headers being used.

Another technique that can be utilized for scaling in order to pinpoint concerns on websites with a million pages is Screaming Frog

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

This will reveal you which sections of the site are utilizing the tag, together with which particular regulations.

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

the foundation of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can utilize to do just that. Simply know: It’s not without its risks. It is very easy to slip up

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

So long as you utilize 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/ SMM Panel