A robots.txt file is a simple text file that you can create to tell search engines how you want to be indexed, and which parts of your site they should (or shouldn’t) index. It isn’t just for large websites even smaller sites can benefit from having one. If your website has sensitive information or pages that aren’t ready to be indexed by search engines, then a robots.txt file can protect those pages from being crawled.
You can also use a robots.txt file to block specific crawlers (like Google crawlers or other known crawlers) from accessing certain areas of your site. Companies may also use the robots file as part of their strategy for preventing scrappers from crawling their content and extracting it for other sites, but this article focuses on creating a robots file for non-commercial purposes:
What Exactly Is a Robots.txt File?
A robots.txt file is a simple text file that you can create to tell search engines how you want to be indexed, and which parts of your site they should (or shouldn’t) index. It isn’t just for large websites – even smaller sites can benefit from having one. The robots.txt file is a way for website owners to control how search engines interact with their websites.
It can be used to block search engines from crawling parts of your website, or it can be used to block specific crawlers (like Google crawlers or other known crawlers) from accessing certain areas of your site. The name of the file is technically “robots.txt,” but many webmasters name it “robots.txt.txt” to prevent their web server from automatically reading and processing the file. If your site has a robots.txt file, you should let the crawler know that it exists by putting a text file called robots.txt at the root of your website.
Why Should You Care About Robots.txt?
A robots.txt file can be used to prevent sensitive information from being crawled. For example, if you have a page on your site with Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information, then you may want to block the crawler from accessing that page. In addition, you may have a page that isn’t ready to be indexed yet. Maybe you have an event coming up, or a new product or service that is still in development, and you don’t want it to be indexed yet. You can block the crawler from accessing these pages, too.
A robots.txt file can also be used to block specific crawlers from accessing certain areas of your site. For example, if you use a PR service that scours the internet for references to your company, you may want to block Google from crawling your site. Or maybe you have a service that harvests data from your website, which you don’t want Google to know about. A robots.txt file can prevent crawlers from accessing your website, blocking them from indexing your content.
Who Can Benefit from Using a Robots.txt File?
Anyone who has sensitive data on their website, or who has pages that aren’t ready to be indexed yet, can benefit from creating a robots.txt file. People who create websites for clients may find that the robot file is an effective way to prevent crawlers from accessing sensitive data that their clients don’t want to be indexed.
A business might use it to prevent competitors from harvesting data from their websites. Or, if you’re creating a new website, and you don’t want it to be indexed yet, a robots.txt file is a quick and easy way to prevent that from happening.
Even if you don’t have a website, you might want to start thinking about creating a robots.txt file. If you’re putting a lot of effort into generating content for social media sites and other networks, you may want to protect those posts from being harvested by Google.
How to Create a Robots.txt File
There are a couple of ways you can create a robots.txt file. The easiest way is to log in to your Google account, navigate to your Google My Business dashboard, and click “Edit” next to your website’s name. Once you’ve clicked “Edit,” a menu will drop down.
Click “Robots.txt Takedown Notice,” and you’ll be able to create a robots.txt file. If you don’t want to use your Google account, or you don’t have one, you can also create a robots.txt file on a different website. Just go to the website you want to protect, click “View source,” and then copy and paste the code.
Should We Care About Robots.txt Files After All?
Absolutely! Even though you may not have a website, you may still want to prevent competitors from harvesting your content, or you may want to protect sensitive posts on social media sites. Similarly, you may have a website and want to prevent Google from crawling sensitive data, or you may want to block specific crawlers from accessing your site. A robots.txt file is an easy way to do both.
The robots.txt file is an easy way to protect and prevent unwanted actions on your website or on social media sites. We recommend taking a few minutes to set one up, especially if you have sensitive information that you don’t want people to see. For those without websites, you can still create a robots.txt file on another website. And for those who have websites, you can create your robots.txt file in your Google My Business dashboard.
1-Improving the performance of focused web crawlers
Received 23 April 2008, Revised 6 April 2009, Accepted 7 April 2009, Available online 21 April 2009.
2-Indexing aids at corporate websites: the use of robots.txt and META tags
Received 15 May 2000, Accepted 17 May 2001, Available online 27 November 2001.