When the word “robot” is mentioned, some people can’t help but imagine one of those machines in Transformer or Pacific Rim movies.
But in this context, we are referring to something entirely different. Robots.txt files are highly significant for webmasters and SEO professionals.
We have written an article on meta tags before, but the robots.txt file is among the essential tools for website optimization and improving your site traffic and rank.
If you are new to search engine optimization, this article may appear a bit technical. However, we will try our best to explain it in the simplest terms.
This blog article will cover the meaning of a robots.txt file, its significance in SEO and the need for a robots.txt generator.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
What is Robots.txt?
Robots.txt is a set of directives that guide search engine bots on whether to crawl a page or not.
When the search engine bot accesses a site, it follows the directive or instruction on the robots.txt file.
To put it another way, the robots.txt file is used to instruct Google on pages that shouldn’t be indexed or appear in search results.
They are also referred to as the “robots exclusion protocol or standard.”
Role of Robots.txt in SEO
You might think it’s illogical for a site to limit a search engine from crawling its web pages, but it offers website owners total control over their site’s crawl budget.
The crawl budget is related to how many pages a Googlebot can index and crawl within a specific period.
This is vital for websites with a large number of pages; Google may have trouble indexing them all.
You have to realize that some content does not hold much value and is rather generated automatically for websites. They could possibly have sensitive data that shouldn’t be indexed in any way.
For instance, if you create a website using a WordPress theme, you will realize that some pages are auto-generated (e.g. categories and tags).
These tag pages are of low SEO benefit because they do not have unique content. They instead group tags for your blog.
Another instance is an eCommerce website that has a transaction or payment page that shouldn’t be indexed or crawled.
These pages potentially carry sensitive data or may be restricted by a login, so Google will most likely extract a “page not found” or “404 error”.
This can negatively impact your SEO and user experience. Thus, it is not important for search engines to index this type of page.
Although ranking at the top of SERPs is the aim of every SEO effort, you have to ensure your site has the right balance of quantity and quality of pages.
When you ask a search engine to crawl your website, the crawler will scan all the pages on your website.
Google is tasked with evaluating the site’s quality by analyzing all the pages it has scanned.
When Google scans a low-value page, it may negatively impact your rank and ruin your site’s visibility on search result pages.
Another reason why it is imperative to use robots.txt files to restrict the volume of pages Google can scan and control the pages their crawlers can index is because of the “crawl budget”.
Firstly, every site has a crawl rate limit. This means there is always a limit to the number of times Google can crawl, fetch or retrieve data from your website in a given duration or time frame.
Then there is crawl demand. This happens when the crawl limit hasn’t been exceeded, but there is not enough demand for indexing. This may impact the popularity of your pages.
Using robots.txt files, you can inform search engines about specific pages that are important to your site. Due to the crawl budget, you wouldn’t want crawlers to spend unnecessary time on low-value pages.
The robots.txt files comprise of “user-agent”, and underneath it, you can insert other instructions such as “Disallow”, “Allow”, “Crawl-Delay”, and so on.
However, this may be a painstaking and time-consuming process. If you wish to exempt the page, you will have to type “Disallow: the page you want the bot to avoid.”
If you think that’s everything about the robots.txt file, you are mistaken. If incorrectly done, it will restrict Google from indexing your page.
This can negatively impact your SEO. So it’d be wise to use an effective robots.txt generator to handle this task.
Why Use a Robots.txt Generator?
The robots.txt generator tool is an easy, straightforward tool.
Whether you are a website owner, SEO specialist or online marketer, you can use it to easily generate robots.txt files for your webpage without technicalities or complications.
As we have earlier posited, always tread with caution when using robots.txt files because it has a serious effect on Google’s ability to index your website, regardless of the CMS platform that it is built with.
Although the tool is user-friendly, it is advisable to go through Google’s guidelines on robots.txt file before putting it to use.
The reason for this is that faulty implementation can restrict search engines (e.g., Google) from accessing crucial pages on your website, or worse, your domain, which will have damaging effects on your SEO.
Let’s explore the many benefits that the Robots.txt Generator offers.
Benefits of Robots.txt Generator in SEO
The robots.txt file generator is a free, helpful tool that has added value to the lives of many website owners by assisting them in creating Googlebot-friendly sites.
With this tool, you can easily optimize your site for Google indexing. The tool comes with a user-friendly interface that allows you to generate critical files swiftly.
It handles the most difficult task for you, allowing you to allow or disallow search engine bots from crawling certain pages or elements of your site.
Many website owners tend to overlook or ignore the utility of robots.txt file for their websites.
Most search engine bots use robots.txt to decide on pages and directories they should crawl or access. Thus, you should use the robots.txt generator to make sure only important pages of your websites are indexed.
It is not advisable for search engine crawlers to access folders or directors that have no relationship with your web content.
Thus, you can use the tool to restrict them from those sections of your site, including your analytics section and coding scripts that are impossible for bots to analyze or parse.
How to Generate Your Robots.txt File
It is very easy to create a robots.txt file for your website using the generator tool. Here are the steps:
Search engine robots are authorized to read and access your site by default. Thus, you can simply choose whether you wish to refuse (disallow) or allow robots to access your site.
Next is the crawl-delay option. This sets the delay time you want between crawls. You can set the delay time from 5 to 120 seconds. The default configuration is “no delay”.
If your website presently has a sitemap, copy/paste it into the field provided in the sitemap section. If there’s no sitemap, leave it blank.
Next is a listing of search robots; select “allow” for the bots you want to crawl your site or “refuse” to disallow the bots from crawling your website.
The last option is “restricted directories”. Ensure it has a trailing slash (/) at the end because it is related to the root.
Once it is completed, select “create robots.txt”.
The next step after creating the robots.txt file is to ensure that it is uploaded to your domain’s root folder or directory. You can view your robots.txt file by entering your site in this format: “www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt.”
Testing Your Robots.txt File
After creating your robots.txt file, it’s advisable to test it with a robots.txt tester.
While there are plenty of tools online, Google Search Console offers the most reliable. However, you must link your website to Google Search Console before using it.
The tool instantly retrieves your site’s robots.txt file and detects flaws and problems when any occur.
What is Robots.txt FAQs
Why is robots.txt important in SEO?
It guides search engine bots to which page they should crawl or access. This ensures your website is properly secured and provides the most accurate results for searchers.
Does the robots.txt file present any vulnerabilities?
No. The txt file does not create any security issues whatsoever. It is generally utilized to limit search crawlers from accessing certain pages of a website.
What is Crawling in SEO?
Crawling is an SEO terminology synonymous with “follow links”. The aim of crawling is to index web pages into a search engine.
Robots.txt files are useful because they restrict search engines from accessing pages that shouldn’t be accessed by the public.
Some SEO professionals also hold the opinion that limiting crawlers from accessing tags, categories and archive folders will ensure quicker indexing, and improve site ranking and crawl rate.
Since the site’s robots.txt file is very critical to its online visibility, always exercise caution when creating them.
If you are a newbie, you can use a robots.txt file generator tool to automate the process.
This article covers the meaning and importance of robots.txt files for SEO.