What is robots.txt?

Do you know you can tweak and manipulate search engines? Well, not completely, but slightly by using a powerful tool that allows you to present your website to the search engine the way you want them to see it. And that powerful tool is a robots.txt file. Robots.txt, when used rightly, can improve crawl frequency, resulting in a positive impact on your SEO efforts. But, what is the robots.txt file? Where do you find one? Why do you need it? How does it work? To know the answers to all these questions, let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into the subject.

What is Robots.txt?

Robots.txt is a text file that dwells within the directory of your website. Robots.txt informs the search engine spiders to outlook certain web pages of your website. Although it is used to avoid overloading your site with requests, it is not a tool for keeping a web page out of the search engine’s radar.

Robots.txt files designate whether crawlers can or cannot crawl that particular part of the website. These crawl instructions are specified by the “Disallow” or “Allow” behavior. Unfortunately, some illegal robots, like malware, spyware, etc., operate outside these rules.

To check the robots.txt files, enter the URL and add- /robots.txt at the end.

For example:

If you look at Instagram’s robots.txt file, you will see that Instagram has disallowed many agents to crawl on a few defined strings. Check these here.

Where to find the robots.txt file?

You can find the robots.txt file stored in the root directory of your website. To find it, open your FTP cPanel, and then you will see the file in your public_html website directory. Voila! That’s your Robots.txt file. If you cannot find a file, create your own. Since there is nothing on these files, they won’t be hefty.

Why do you need a robots.txt file?

There are several benefits of having a robots.txt file. First, it disallows the bot to enter private folders. Robots.txt prevents bots from checking out your private folders. Secondly, it maintains resources for your potential clients. If your website has many pages and every time a bot crawls through your site, it sucks up bandwidth and other server resources and drains them quickly. So having robots.txt makes it difficult for bots to access all the pages, which will keep valuable resources for your potential clients.

Things to remember

Now that you know the basics, let us go through some crucial things to remember. Before blocking the content, ensure you are not blocking any website’s important content that you want to be crawled. Never use robots.txt to prevent sensitive data. Lastly, if you want to block your web page from search results, use a unique method like noindex meta directive or password protection.

To wrap it up

Search engines are unsympathetic judges of character, so it is essential to make a great impression. That’s where robots.txt comes to your rescue. Allowing bots to spend their days crawling the right things will organize and show your content how you want it to be seen in the SERPs. In addition, creating your robots.txt file helps you improve your SEO and your visitors’ user experience.