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SEMrush Blog

Guiding Googlebot through Your Website Pages with a Robots.Txt File

SEMrush Blog
Guiding Googlebot through Your Website Pages with a Robots.Txt File

Marketers are familiar with the fact that search engines have crawlers that are used to recognize websites and the pages contained within. The search engine crawlers play a major role in determining the ranking for a particular page or website. This is why marketers should be wary of the Google crawler and the effect it could have on their search engine rankings. There is a way for you to control the way in which the pages on your website: guiding Google bot through your website.

The Googlebot is one of several search engine robots you will find online. There are some specific considerations you have to make to allow it to pass through your website, the foremost of which is using robot.txt file. A Robots.Txt file is on which specifies the pages on your website that are not to be crawled. On the other hand, sometimes marketers use it to earmark pages that are to be crawled. Either way, Robots.Txt files give you greater authority over the how the search engine crawlers read your website.

The Robots.Txt file is added to the root directory of your website to make it possible for the Googlebot to check each and every page of it. According to its standard definition, the Robots.Txt format is called the Robots Exclusion Protocol. There are three main types of Robots.Txt files.

    • Disallow

The disallow robots.txt file is used to signal to the Googlebot that it doesn’t need to spare any page on your website when specifying them for the search engine crawlers. In other words, the robots.txt disallow is used when you want each and every page on your website to be open for crawling.

    • User-Agent

The user-agent is the opposite of the disallow file. In this case, you can place an asterisk (*) to specify if the bots are not allowed to crawl your pages. You can decide whether you want to block all the bots, or just limit the restriction to certain bots. The user-agent directive lets you specify the names of the bots not to be allowed. For instance, you may only want the Google bot to crawl your website.

    • Allow

As the name clearly shows, the robots.txt allow file allows bots access to certain pages or files & folders on your website. It is quite possible that the same files or folders may have been disallowed before.

How to Use a Robots.Txt File

The way in which you will use the robots.txt files depends on the purpose you want to use it for. For instance, you may want to prevent bots from crawling on your website completely. On the other hand, you may wish to restrict only certain bots but allowing other. The types of files you can use for each function are laid out above, namely allow, disallow and user-agent. The basic purpose of a robots.txt file is to let bots know that you are not restricting them from visiting your website.

In the absence of the file, any bot that visits your website will check out every page and piece of content there. This is because the bots are programmed to look for a robots.txt file to find the instructions the webmaster has left for it. If it doesn’t find the file, the bots assume they are free to visit the entire website and they proceed to do so. Same is the case if you have an empty file titled robots.txt. You have to provide specific instructions otherwise the bots won’t be able to follow the instructions you have given.

Some webmasters have tried to add empty robots.txt files to their websites. That doesn’t work at all. The bot on your website would continue its journey through your website uninterrupted. What you need to do is create the file and then write the instructions you want the bots to follow and whether or not they are allowed to crawl the pages on your website. Unless and until you do so, you won’t be able to guide Googlebot through your website. It will go where it pleases.

You can use a robots.txt generator to create the file for your website and make things easier for you. When speaking about tools, one of the best ones for your website is SEMrush. SEMrush is a multipurpose tool that helps you with keyword research and organization along with a number of other functions. In short, it is a resource you can use to take your website to the top of the search engine rankings.

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