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

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

However nearly every site is going to have pages that you don’t wish to include in this exploration.

For example, do you really want your 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 website actively, and in a worst-case, they might be diverting traffic from more crucial pages.

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

We have an excellent and in-depth description of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you should absolutely check out.

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

Robots.txt offers crawlers with directions about the site as a whole, while meta robotics tags include instructions for particular pages.

Some meta robotics tags you might employ consist of index, which tells 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 results; follow, which advises an online search engine to follow the links on a page; nofollow, which informs it not to follow links, and a whole host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robots tags are useful tools to keep in your tool kit, but there’s also another method to advise 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 webpages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it manages indexing for an entire page, as well as the particular elements on that page.

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

But this, obviously, raises the question:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any instruction 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 directives in the headers of an HTTP action 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 2 most common being when:

  • You want to control 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 want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP reaction method makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also beneficial due to the fact that it allows you to combine multiple tags within an HTTP action or utilize a comma-separated list of regulations to define directives.

Possibly you do not want a particular page to be cached and want it to be not available after a particular date. You can utilize a combination of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to instruct online search engine bots to follow these guidelines.

Essentially, 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 responses is that it enables you to use routine expressions to perform crawl regulations on non-HTML, in addition to use parameters on a larger, global level.

To help you comprehend the distinction in between these directives, it’s practical to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer instructions?

Here’s a handy cheat sheet to discuss:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user agent, allow, disallow, and sitemap instructions to specify where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not permitted to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– permits you to specify and avoid search engines from revealing specific pages on a website in search engine result.

Nofollow– permits you to define links that must not pass on 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 state you wish to obstruct specific file types. A perfect approach would be to include 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 terrific in theory, however what does it look like in the real world? Let’s have a look.

Let’s say 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 below:

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

Now, let’s look at a various situation. Let’s state we want 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 keep in mind that comprehending 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 particular indexing and serving directives can not be discovered and will not be followed.

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

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

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

The easiest way to check is to set up a browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag details about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

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

By clicking on the plugin in your web 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 issues on websites with a million pages is Yelling Frog

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

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

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

the cornerstone of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is an effective tool you can utilize to do simply that. Just know: It’s not without its risks. It is very easy to slip up

and deindex your whole website. That said, if you read this piece, you’re most likely not an SEO beginner.

So long as you use it wisely, take your time and examine your work, you’ll find the X-Robots-Tag to be a beneficial addition to your toolbox. More Resources: Featured Image: Song_about_summer/ SMM Panel