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

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Search engine optimization, in its many standard sense, trusts something above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

But almost every website is going to have pages that you do not want to consist of in this exploration.

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

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

Fortunately, Google allows web designers to tell online search engine bots what pages and content to crawl and what to disregard. There are a number of ways to do this, the most common being using a robots.txt file or the meta robotics tag.

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

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

Robots.txt supplies spiders with guidelines about the site as an entire, while meta robotics tags include directions for particular pages.

Some meta robotics tags you may employ include index, which informs online search engine to include 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 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, however there’s likewise another method 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 manage 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, in addition to the specific elements on that page.

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

But this, naturally, raises the concern:

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 directives in the headers of an HTTP action with both the meta robots tag and X-Robots Tag, there are particular circumstances 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 want to serve regulations site-wide rather of on a page level.

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

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise beneficial because it allows you to integrate numerous tags within an HTTP action or utilize a comma-separated list of directives to specify directives.

Perhaps you do not want a particular page to be cached and want it to be unavailable after a specific date. You can utilize a mix of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to advise online search engine bots to follow these directions.

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

The advantage of using an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP actions is that it enables you to utilize regular expressions to carry out crawl regulations on non-HTML, in addition to apply specifications on a bigger, international level.

To help you understand the distinction in between these directives, it’s useful to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer regulations?

Here’s a convenient cheat sheet to explain:

Spider Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user agent, allow, prohibit, and sitemap regulations to define where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not permitted to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– allows you to specify and avoid online search engine from showing particular pages on a website in search engine result.

Nofollow– enables you to specify links that need to not pass on authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s state you wish 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 site’s HTTP reactions in an Apache server configuration via.htaccess file.

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

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

Let’s say we desired 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 listed below:

place ~ *. pdf$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s take a look at a different circumstance. Let’s state we wish to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to block 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 understanding how these directives work and the impact they have on one another is important.

For instance, what occurs if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robotics tag lie when spider bots discover a URL?

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

If instructions 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 check for an X-Robots-Tag on the site.

The most convenient method to check is to install a web browser extension that will inform you X-Robots-Tag information 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 Action Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being used.

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

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

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

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

the foundation of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can use to do simply that. Just know: 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 probably not an SEO newbie.

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