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

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Search engine optimization, in its a lot of basic sense, trusts one thing above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

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

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

In a best-case scenario, these are not doing anything to drive traffic to your site actively, and in a worst-case, they might be diverting traffic from more important pages.

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

We have an outstanding and in-depth description of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you ought to certainly read.

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

Robots.txt supplies crawlers with directions about the website as an entire, while meta robotics tags consist of directions for specific pages.

Some meta robots tags you might use include index, which informs search engines to include the page to their index; noindex, which tells it not to add a page to the index or include it in search results page; follow, which instructs 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, however there’s also 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 webpages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header action to a URL, it controls indexing for a whole page, in addition to the particular components on that page.

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

However this, naturally, raises the question:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any instruction 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 directives in the headers of an HTTP response with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are certain circumstances where you would want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most typical being when:

  • You wish to control how your non-HTML files are being crawled and indexed.
  • You want to serve directives site-wide instead of on a page level.

For instance, if you wish to block a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP response technique makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise useful because it allows you to combine several tags within an HTTP action or use a comma-separated list of instructions to specify directives.

Maybe you do not desire a certain page to be cached and want it to be unavailable after a particular date. You can utilize a mix of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to advise search engine bots to follow these directions.

Basically, the power of the X-Robots-Tag is that it is a lot more versatile than the meta robots tag.

The advantage of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it permits you to use regular expressions to carry out crawl regulations on non-HTML, in addition to apply parameters on a larger, worldwide level.

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

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet to discuss:

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

Nofollow– allows you to specify links that should not pass on authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s state you want 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 added to a website’s HTTP actions in an Apache server setup via.htaccess file.

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

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

Let’s say 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 below:

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

Now, let’s look at a different scenario. Let’s say we wish to use 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 regulations work and the impact they have on one another is important.

For instance, what occurs if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag lie when crawler bots discover a URL?

If that URL is blocked from robots.txt, then particular indexing and serving regulations can not be found and will not be followed.

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

Check 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 way to inspect is to install an internet browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag information about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

Another plugin you can utilize to figure out whether an X-Robots-Tag is being used, for example, is the Web Designer plugin.

By clicking the plugin in your internet browser and navigating to “View Response Headers,” you can see the numerous HTTP headers being utilized.

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

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

This will show you which sections of the site are utilizing the tag, together with which particular instructions.

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

the foundation of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can utilize to do simply that. Just understand: It’s not without its risks. It is extremely easy to slip up

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

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