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

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

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

For example, do you truly want your privacy policy or internal search pages showing up 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 vital pages.

Fortunately, Google enables web designers to inform search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to ignore. There are a number of ways to do this, the most common being using a robots.txt file or the meta robots tag.

We have an exceptional and in-depth description of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you must definitely check out.

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

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

Some meta robots tags you might employ consist of index, which informs online search engine to include the page to their index; noindex, which tells it not to include 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 tells it not to follow links, and a whole host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robotics tags work tools to keep in your toolbox, but there’s also another way to advise 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 webpages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header action to a URL, it controls indexing for a whole page, as well as the specific aspects on that page.

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

However this, naturally, raises the concern:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

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

While you can set robots.txt-related regulations in the headers of an HTTP action with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific circumstances where you would want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag– the two most typical being when:

  • You wish to manage how your non-HTML files are being crawled and indexed.
  • You wish to serve instructions site-wide rather of on a page level.

For instance, if you want to obstruct a specific image or video from being crawled– the HTTP action method makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is also useful because it allows you to integrate multiple tags within an HTTP response or use a comma-separated list of regulations to specify directives.

Perhaps you do not want a certain 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 search engine bots to follow these instructions.

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

The advantage of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP reactions is that it allows you to utilize regular expressions to execute crawl regulations on non-HTML, as well as apply parameters on a bigger, global level.

To assist you understand the difference in 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 explain:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user agent, permit, prohibit, and sitemap regulations to specify where on-site search engine bots are enabled to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– allows you to define and avoid search engines from showing specific pages on a site in search engine result.

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

X-Robots-tag– permits you to manage how defined 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 add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache setup or a.htaccess file.

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

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

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

Let’s say we wanted online search engine 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:

location ~ *. pdf$

Now, let’s look at a different circumstance. Let’s state we wish to use the X-Robots-Tag to block image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, etc, 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 impact they have on one another is important.

For instance, what happens if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robots tag are located when spider bots find a URL?

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

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

Look for An X-Robots-Tag

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

The easiest method to check is to set up an internet browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag information 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 Developer plugin.

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

Another method that can be utilized for scaling in order to determine problems on websites with a million pages is Shrieking Frog

. After running a site 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, together with which specific regulations.

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

the cornerstone of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is an effective tool you can use to do just that. Just be aware: It’s not without its risks. It is very easy to make a mistake

and deindex your whole site. That stated, if you read this piece, you’re most likely not an SEO novice.

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