What is robots.txt?
One of the common questions that people are asking these days is- What is robots.txt? The robot exclusion protocol or what is commonly known as robots.txt is a practice to prevent the web crawlers from getting access into your website or a part of your website. It is text file which contains all essential commands for the indexing robots of search engines which focus on the pages that are likely or not likely to be indexed, and are used for search engine optimization.
This is not used for de-indexing pages but to restrict them from being browsed. If a page had not been indexed before, it cannot be indexed ever if you prevent the crawl. When a page has been indexed or if a website is linked to it, the robots.txt will not enable the deindexing. You can use directies or noindex tags or even password protect it if you want to prevent a particular page from being indexed on Google.
The most important aim of robots.txt file is thus to control the crawl budget of the robot by preventing it from browsing the low-added value pages and rather focus on pages that are relevant to the user's journey.
How does it function?
If you follow the latest SEO news, you will learn that the two main agendas of search engines are-
- crawl the web to find content, and
- index the content to help users find the information they are looking for.
Search engines follow links from one site to another in order to crawl the sites. This is known as 'spidering'. When the search engine robot accesses a website, it will look for a robots.txt file. When it gets access to one, the robot reads this file at first before browsing other pages. If there no directives found in this robots.txt file that prevent user agent activity or if there are no robots.txt file in this site, it will crawl other content on the site.
The indexifembedded Tag by Google
Now Google has announced a new robots tag called the indexifembedded. It allows to control if you want Google to index a page which has embedded content. This will enable Google to index a page's content if it is embedded via iframes or similar HTML tags on another site, even after it has a index directive. According to Google, some media publishers want the content to be indexed when it is embedded on the third-party sites but not necessarily want the media pages to be indexed on their own. They are currently using the noindex tag on the pages that they do not want indexed but this tag also prohibits the content to be embedded on other sites during the indexing.
Google says that this indexifembedded tag functions with the original noindex tag only if the site with the noindex tag is embedded into another site via iframe or a similar HTML tag. For example, the noindex and indexifembedded tag are both present in podcast.host.example/playpage?podcast=12345, which means that Google can embed any content hosted on the page in recipe.site.example/my-recipes.html while indexing.
To make the process clearer, take a look at this code example:
<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex" />
<meta name="googlebot" content="indexifembedded" />
<!– OR –>
<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex,indexifembedded" />
Or, you can also put the following tag in your HTTP header-
The Importance of the robots.txt:
Some of the major user advantages would be-
- Prevent crawling of duplicate content
- Prohibit indexing of particular images on your site by the search engines
- Pinpoint the sitemap's location
- Enabling a scan delay to avoid the servers from overloading if the crawlers load several content pieces simultaneously.
Therefore, the robots.txt file can forbid robots to get access several parts of your website, particularly when a part of your website is private or if the content is not relevant for the search engines. Thus, according to the latest SEO updates, robots.txt can be an amazing tool for controlling the indexing on such pages.