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

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Search engine optimization, in its many basic sense, trusts one thing above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

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

For example, do you truly want your privacy policy or internal search pages appearing in Google results?

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

Fortunately, Google enables web designers to inform online search engine bots what pages and material to crawl and what to neglect. There are several ways to do this, the most common being utilizing a robots.txt file or the meta robotics tag.

We have an exceptional and detailed explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you must certainly read.

However in top-level terms, it’s a plain text file that resides in your website’s root and follows the Robots Exclusion Protocol (ASSOCIATE).

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

Some meta robotics tags you may employ consist of index, which tells search engines 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; follow, which advises a search engine to follow the links on a page; nofollow, which tells it not to follow links, and an entire host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robots tags are useful tools to keep in your toolbox, but there’s also 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 way for you to control how your web pages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header response to a URL, it manages indexing for a whole page, in addition to the particular elements on that page.

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

But this, naturally, raises the question:

When Should You Use The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any instruction that can be used in a robots meta tag can also be defined as an X-Robots-Tag.”

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

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

For instance, if you want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP action approach makes this simple.

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

Maybe you don’t desire a certain page to be cached and want it to be not available after a certain 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 a lot more versatile than the meta robotics tag.

The benefit of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP actions is that it permits you to use regular expressions to execute crawl instructions on non-HTML, in addition to use criteria on a bigger, international level.

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

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet to explain:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user representative, allow, disallow, and sitemap instructions to specify where on-site online search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not permitted to crawl. Meta Robots tag– allows you to specify and prevent search engines from revealing specific pages on a website in search engine result.

Nofollow– allows you to define links that should not hand down 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 particular file types. An ideal approach would be to include the X-Robots-Tag to an Apache configuration 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 excellent in theory, however what does it appear like in the real world? Let’s have a look.

Let’s state we desired online search engine 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 appear like the listed below:

location ~ * . pdf$

Now, let’s take a look at a various scenario. Let’s state we want to utilize the X-Robots-Tag to obstruct 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 keep in mind that understanding how these directives work and the impact they have on one another is crucial.

For example, what occurs if both the X-Robots-Tag and a meta robots tag lie when crawler bots discover a URL?

If that URL is blocked from robots.txt, then particular indexing and serving directives can not be found 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 few different approaches that can be used to look for an X-Robots-Tag on the site.

The easiest method to check is to set up an internet browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag info about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exemption Checker, December 2022

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

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

Another approach that can be used for scaling in order to identify concerns on websites with a million pages is Yelling Frog

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

This will reveal you which areas of the site are utilizing the tag, along with which specific instructions.

Screenshot of Shrieking Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Utilizing X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Comprehending and managing how search engines engage 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 be aware: It’s not without its dangers. It is extremely simple to make a mistake

and deindex your whole website. That said, if you’re reading this piece, you’re probably not an SEO beginner.

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