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

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Search engine optimization, in its many standard sense, trusts one thing above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

But nearly every site is going to have pages that you don’t want to consist of in this expedition.

For example, do you actually desire 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 could be diverting traffic from more vital pages.

Fortunately, Google enables webmasters to inform search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to ignore. There are several 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 explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you need to certainly check out.

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

Robots.txt provides crawlers with guidelines about the site as a whole, while meta robots tags consist of directions for particular pages.

Some meta robots tags you might employ consist of index, which tells search engines to include the page to their index; noindex, which informs it not to add a page to the index or include it in search engine result; follow, which advises a 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 robotics tags work tools to keep in your tool kit, however there’s likewise another way to instruct 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 control 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, along with the particular elements on that page.

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

However this, obviously, raises the question:

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 specified as an X-Robots-Tag.”

While you can set robots.txt-related directives in the headers of an HTTP action with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are particular situations where you would wish to use 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 wish to serve instructions site-wide instead of on a page level.

For instance, if you want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP reaction method makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also helpful since it permits you to integrate several tags within an HTTP response or use a comma-separated list of directives to specify regulations.

Maybe you do not want a certain page to be cached and desire 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 directions.

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

The advantage of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP reactions is that it permits you to utilize regular expressions to execute crawl directives on non-HTML, as well as apply parameters on a bigger, worldwide level.

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

Here’s a handy cheat sheet to discuss:

Spider Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user representative, enable, prohibit, and sitemap instructions to define where on-site online search engine bots are enabled to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– permits you to define and avoid online search engine from revealing specific pages on a website in search results.

Nofollow– allows you to define links that need to not hand down authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s state you wish to block specific file types. An ideal method would be to include the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache configuration or a.htaccess file.

The X-Robots-Tag can be contributed to a site’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, but what does it appear like in the real life? Let’s have a look.

Let’s state we wanted online search engine 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 take a look at a different circumstance. Let’s say we wish to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to obstruct image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, and so on, from being indexed. You could do this with an X-Robots-Tag that would appear like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”

Please keep in mind that comprehending how these directives work and the impact they have on one another is important.

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

If that URL is blocked from robots.txt, then certain indexing and serving instructions can not be discovered and will not be followed.

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

Look for An X-Robots-Tag

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

The simplest 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 determine whether an X-Robots-Tag is being utilized, for example, is the Web Developer plugin.

By clicking on the plugin in your web browser and navigating to “View Action Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being utilized.

Another technique that can be utilized for scaling in order to identify problems on websites with a million pages is Shrieking Frog

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

This will reveal you which sections of the website are using the tag, in addition to which particular instructions.

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

the cornerstone of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can utilize to do just that. Simply understand: It’s not without its threats. It is extremely easy to make a mistake

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

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