Everything You Need To Understand About The X-Robots-Tag HTTP Header

Posted by

Search engine optimization, in its a lot of fundamental sense, relies upon something above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

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

For example, do you really want your privacy policy or internal search pages showing up 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 could be diverting traffic from more important pages.

Fortunately, Google enables webmasters to tell online search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to overlook. There are numerous ways to do this, the most common being utilizing a robots.txt file or the meta robots tag.

We have an exceptional and detailed explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you must certainly read.

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

Robots.txt offers spiders with instructions about the website as a whole, while meta robots tags include instructions for specific pages.

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

Both robots.txt and meta robots tags work tools to keep in your tool kit, however there’s likewise another method 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 way for you to manage how your websites are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header action to a URL, it manages indexing for an entire page, as well as the particular elements on that page.

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

However this, of course, raises the concern:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any directive that can be used in a robotics meta tag can likewise 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 robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are particular scenarios 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 rather of on a page level.

For example, if you want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP reaction approach makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also helpful due to the fact that it enables you to combine multiple tags within an HTTP response or utilize a comma-separated list of regulations to specify instructions.

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

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

The benefit of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it allows you to utilize routine expressions to execute crawl regulations on non-HTML, along with use parameters on a bigger, international level.

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

Here’s a helpful 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 allowed to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robots tag– allows you to specify and prevent online search engine from showing particular pages on a website in search results page.

Nofollow– permits you to define links that must not pass on authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s state you want to obstruct particular file types. An ideal approach would be to add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache configuration or a.htaccess file.

The X-Robots-Tag can be added to a site’s HTTP reactions in an Apache server configuration via.htaccess file.

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

So that sounds excellent in theory, but what does it look like in the real life? Let’s take a look.

Let’s say we desired search engines not to index.pdf file types. This setup 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 scenario. Let’s say we want to use the X-Robots-Tag to block 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 essential.

For example, what occurs if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag are located when crawler 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.

Look for An X-Robots-Tag

There are a couple of different techniques that can be used to check for an X-Robots-Tag on the website.

The most convenient method to examine is to install a web browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag info about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

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

By clicking the plugin in your internet browser and browsing to “View Reaction Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being utilized.

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

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

This will reveal you which areas of the website are utilizing the tag, in addition to which particular regulations.

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

the foundation of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can use to do just that. Simply understand: It’s not without its threats. It is really simple 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 utilize it sensibly, 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/ Best SMM Panel