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

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Search engine optimization, in its most fundamental sense, trusts one thing above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

However nearly every website is going to have pages that you do not wish to include in this expedition.

For instance, do you actually want your privacy policy or internal search pages showing up in Google results?

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

Fortunately, Google allows web designers to tell online search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to ignore. There are numerous methods to do this, the most common being utilizing a robots.txt file or the meta robots tag.

We have an outstanding and in-depth explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you must definitely read.

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

Robots.txt supplies spiders with instructions about the website as a whole, while meta robots tags consist of directions for specific pages.

Some meta robots tags you might utilize include index, which informs search engines to add 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 instructs 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 robots tags are useful tools to keep in your tool kit, however there’s likewise another method to instruct online 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 websites are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it controls indexing for a whole page, as well as the specific aspects on that page.

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

However this, obviously, raises the question:

When Should You Utilize The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any regulation 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 regulations in the headers of an HTTP response with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific situations where you would want to use the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most typical being when:

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

For example, if you want to block a specific image or video from being crawled– the HTTP response method makes this easy.

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

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

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

The benefit of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP actions is that it permits you to utilize routine expressions to execute crawl directives on non-HTML, along with apply parameters on a larger, international level.

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

Here’s a convenient cheat sheet to describe:

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

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

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you want to block 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 website’s HTTP responses in an Apache server setup via.htaccess file.

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

So that sounds excellent in theory, however 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 look like the below:

place ~ * . pdf$

Now, let’s look at a different scenario. Let’s say we want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to obstruct image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, etc, from being indexed. You might 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 instructions work and the effect they have on one another is vital.

For example, what takes place if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robots tag are located 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 regulations are to be followed, then the URLs containing those can not be prohibited from crawling.

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

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

The easiest way to inspect is to install an internet browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag info about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

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

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

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

This will reveal you which sections of the site are utilizing the tag, in addition to which specific regulations.

Screenshot of Screaming Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Using X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Comprehending and controlling how online search engine interact with your website is

the foundation of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can utilize to do simply that. Just 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 probably not an SEO newbie.

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