Whatever You Required To Know About The X-Robots-Tag HTTP Header

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Seo, in its the majority of basic sense, relies upon one thing above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

However nearly every site is going to have pages that you do not want to include in this expedition.

For example, do you actually want your privacy policy or internal search pages appearing in Google results?

In a best-case circumstance, these are not doing anything to drive traffic to your website actively, and in a worst-case, they could be diverting traffic from more crucial pages.

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

We have an exceptional and comprehensive explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you need to absolutely check out.

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

Robots.txt offers crawlers with directions about the website as an entire, while meta robots tags include directions for specific pages.

Some meta robots tags you may employ include index, which informs search engines to include the page to their index; noindex, which tells it not to include a page to the index or include it in search engine result; follow, which instructs 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, but 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 way for you to manage how your websites are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it controls indexing for an entire page, in addition to the specific elements on that page.

And whereas using meta robots tags is relatively simple, the X-Robots-Tag is a bit more complex.

However this, obviously, raises the question:

When Should You Utilize The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any regulation that can be utilized in a robots 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 action with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific scenarios where you would wish to utilize the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most common being when:

  • You wish to control how your non-HTML files are being crawled and indexed.
  • You want to serve instructions 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 reaction approach makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise beneficial since it enables you to combine several tags within an HTTP response or utilize a comma-separated list of directives to define instructions.

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

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

The advantage of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP reactions is that it enables you to utilize routine expressions to perform crawl directives on non-HTML, as well as apply criteria on a bigger, global level.

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

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet to discuss:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user agent, allow, disallow, and sitemap instructions to specify where on-site online search engine bots are enabled to crawl and not permitted to crawl. Meta Robots tag– allows you to specify and prevent online search engine from revealing particular pages on a site in search results.

Nofollow– allows you to specify links that should not hand down authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you wish to block specific file types. An ideal approach 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 Uses Of The X-Robots-Tag

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

Let’s say we desired 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$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s take a look at a various circumstance. Let’s say we wish to use the X-Robots-Tag to block 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 note that comprehending how these instructions work and the impact they have on one another is vital.

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 instructions can not be discovered and will not be followed.

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

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

There are a few different approaches that can be utilized to look for an X-Robots-Tag on the website.

The most convenient method to inspect is to install an internet browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag information about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

Another plugin you can use 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 Action Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being utilized.

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

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

This will show you which sections of the site are utilizing the tag, along with which specific regulations.

Screenshot of Screaming Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Utilizing X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Comprehending and controlling how search engines communicate with your site is

the cornerstone 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 dangers. It is very easy to slip up

and deindex your whole site. That stated, if you’re reading this piece, you’re probably not an SEO newbie.

So long as you use it sensibly, take your time and check your work, you’ll discover the X-Robots-Tag to be an useful addition to your toolbox. More Resources: Featured Image: Song_about_summer/ SMM Panel