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

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Search engine optimization, in its a lot of fundamental sense, trusts one thing above all others: Search engine spiders crawling and indexing your site.

However almost every website is going to have pages that you don’t want to consist of in this expedition.

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

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

Thankfully, Google allows webmasters to inform online search engine bots what pages and content to crawl and what to overlook. There are several methods to do this, the most common being utilizing a robots.txt file or the meta robotics tag.

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

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

Robots.txt offers crawlers with directions about the site as an entire, while meta robots tags consist of instructions for particular pages.

Some meta robotics tags you might employ consist of index, which tells search engines to include the page to their index; noindex, which informs 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 a whole host of others.

Both robots.txt and meta robotics tags are useful tools to keep in your tool kit, but there’s likewise another method 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 way for you to control how your webpages 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 specific aspects on that page.

And whereas utilizing meta robotics tags is relatively straightforward, 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 utilized in a robotics 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 reaction with both the meta robotics tag and X-Robots Tag, there are specific circumstances where you would wish to use the X-Robots-Tag– the 2 most common being when:

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

For example, if you want to obstruct a specific image or video from being crawled– the HTTP action technique makes this simple.

The X-Robots-Tag header is likewise beneficial since it allows you to combine numerous tags within an HTTP reaction or use a comma-separated list of directives to specify regulations.

Perhaps you do not desire a certain page to be cached and desire 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 guidelines.

Essentially, the power of the X-Robots-Tag is that it is far more versatile than the meta robotics tag.

The advantage of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it enables you to use routine expressions to execute crawl regulations on non-HTML, as well as apply criteria on a larger, international level.

To assist you understand the difference in between these regulations, it’s helpful to classify them by type. That is, are they crawler instructions or indexer instructions?

Here’s a convenient cheat sheet to explain:

Spider Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– utilizes the user agent, allow, disallow, and sitemap instructions to specify where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not allowed to crawl. Meta Robots tag– allows you to define and avoid online search engine from showing specific pages on a website in search results page.

Nofollow– enables you to define links that ought to not hand down authority or PageRank.

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

Where Do You Put The X-Robots-Tag?

Let’s state you want to obstruct specific file types. An ideal technique 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 great in theory, however what does it appear like in the real world? Let’s take a look.

Let’s say 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$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s look at a different situation. Let’s state we wish 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 appear like the below:

Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex”

Please keep in mind that understanding how these regulations work and the impact they have on one another is vital.

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

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

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

Check For An X-Robots-Tag

There are a few various techniques that can be used to look for an X-Robots-Tag on the website.

The simplest way to inspect is to set up a browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag information about the URL.

Screenshot of Robots Exclusion Checker, December 2022

Another plugin you can utilize to figure out whether an X-Robots-Tag is being used, for example, is the Web Developer plugin.

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

Another method that can be utilized for scaling in order to pinpoint concerns on sites with a million pages is Screaming Frog

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

This will show you which areas of the site are using the tag, in addition to which particular instructions.

Screenshot of Shrieking Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Using X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Understanding and managing how online search engine connect with your website is

the cornerstone of seo. And the X-Robots-Tag is a powerful tool you can use to do just that. Simply be aware: It’s not without its threats. It is very simple to make a mistake

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

So long as you use it wisely, take your time and inspect your work, you’ll find the X-Robots-Tag to be a helpful addition to your toolbox. More Resources: Featured Image: Song_about_summer/ Best SMM Panel