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

Posted by

Seo, in its the majority of standard sense, relies upon something above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

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

For instance, do you really desire your privacy policy or internal search pages appearing in Google results?

In a best-case circumstance, these are doing nothing to drive traffic to your site actively, and in a worst-case, they might be diverting traffic from more important pages.

Fortunately, Google allows webmasters to inform online search engine bots what pages and content to crawl and what to neglect. There are numerous ways to do this, the most common being using a robots.txt file or the meta robotics tag.

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

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

Robots.txt provides spiders with guidelines about the website as a whole, while meta robotics tags consist of directions for specific pages.

Some meta robots tags you might utilize include index, which tells online search engine to add the page to their index; noindex, which tells 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 an entire host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robotics tags work tools to keep in your tool kit, but 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 way for you to control how your webpages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it controls indexing for an entire page, as well as the particular aspects on that page.

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

However this, of course, raises the question:

When Should You Utilize The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any directive that can be utilized in a robots meta tag can also be specified as an X-Robots-Tag.”

While you can set robots.txt-related instructions in the headers of an HTTP response with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are particular situations where you would want to use the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most typical being when:

  • You want to manage how your non-HTML files are being crawled and indexed.
  • You want 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 action method makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise helpful since it permits you to integrate numerous tags within an HTTP reaction or use a comma-separated list of instructions to define directives.

Maybe you don’t desire a particular page to be cached and desire it to be not available after a specific date. You can use a mix of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to instruct online search engine bots to follow these directions.

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

The benefit of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP reactions is that it permits you to use regular expressions to execute crawl instructions on non-HTML, as well as use parameters on a bigger, worldwide level.

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

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet to discuss:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user representative, permit, disallow, and sitemap instructions to define where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– enables you to define and prevent search engines from showing particular pages on a website in search results page.

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

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you want to block specific file types. A perfect method would be to add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache configuration or a.htaccess file.

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

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

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

Let’s state we wanted 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$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s take a look at a various circumstance. Let’s say we wish to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to block image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, and so on, from being indexed. You might do this with an X-Robots-Tag that would look like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”

Please note that comprehending how these instructions work and the effect they have on one another is important.

For example, what happens if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag are located when spider bots discover a URL?

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

If directives are to be followed, then the URLs including those can not be disallowed from crawling.

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

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

The most convenient way to inspect is to set up a web browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag details 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 instance, is the Web Designer plugin.

By clicking the plugin in your web browser and navigating to “View Response Headers,” you can see the various HTTP headers being used.

Another method that can be used for scaling in order to pinpoint concerns on sites with a million pages is Shrieking Frog

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

This will show you which sections of the site are using the tag, along with which specific regulations.

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

the foundation of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can use to do just that. Just be aware: It’s not without its risks. 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 novice.

So long as you utilize it carefully, take your time and inspect your work, you’ll find the X-Robots-Tag to be an useful addition to your arsenal. More Resources: Included Image: Song_about_summer/ SMM Panel