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

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Seo, in its most basic sense, trusts something above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

However nearly every website 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 appearing in Google results?

In a best-case situation, these are not doing anything to drive traffic to your website actively, and in a worst-case, they could be diverting traffic from more crucial pages.

Luckily, Google allows webmasters to tell online search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to ignore. There are numerous ways 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 need to 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 Procedure (REPRESENTATIVE).

Robots.txt provides crawlers with instructions about the website as an entire, while meta robots tags consist of instructions for specific pages.

Some meta robotics tags you might utilize consist of 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, but there’s also another way 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 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 components on that page.

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

But this, obviously, raises the concern:

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 directives in the headers of an HTTP response with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific situations where you would wish to use the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most common being when:

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

For example, if you wish to block a specific image or video from being crawled– the HTTP reaction approach makes this easy.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise helpful due to the fact that it enables you to integrate numerous tags within an HTTP action or utilize a comma-separated list of instructions to specify regulations.

Perhaps you do not want a specific page to be cached and want it to be not available after a particular date. You can use a combination of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to advise search engine bots to follow these instructions.

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

The benefit of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it permits you to utilize routine expressions to execute crawl directives on non-HTML, in addition to use parameters on a larger, worldwide level.

To assist you comprehend the distinction between these regulations, it’s practical to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer regulations?

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet to describe:

Spider Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user agent, permit, disallow, and sitemap instructions to specify where on-site search engine bots are permitted to crawl and not enabled to crawl. Meta Robots tag– permits you to define and avoid online search engine from showing particular pages on a site in search results.

Nofollow– permits you to define links that should not hand down authority or PageRank.

X-Robots-tag– allows you to manage how defined file types are indexed.

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s say you wish to obstruct specific file types. A perfect technique would be to add the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache setup 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 Uses Of The X-Robots-Tag

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

Let’s state we wanted search engines 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 look like the below:

area ~ * . pdf$

Now, let’s take a look at a various situation. Let’s say we wish to use the X-Robots-Tag to obstruct image files, such as.jpg,. gif,. png, etc, 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 essential.

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 specific indexing and serving instructions can not be found and will not be followed.

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

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

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

The easiest way to check is to set up a browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag information about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exemption Checker, December 2022

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

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

Another approach that can be used for scaling in order to pinpoint problems on sites with a million pages is Shouting Frog

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

This will show you which areas of the website are utilizing the tag, in addition to which particular directives.

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

the cornerstone of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is an effective tool you can utilize to do simply that. Just understand: It’s not without its threats. It is really simple to slip up

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

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