What Is a robots.txt File? How Does It Work?

If we asked you about one thing that you would describe as omnipresent, what would be the first to come to your mind? We asked some of our friends and ourselves that same question, and you know what? We all had the same thing in mind – the Internet!  Do you agree?

Sometimes we think that it is really weird that something invented less than 40 years ago became so popular and widespread. But it is the truth! Many of us can imagine life without cars or TV, etc.! But the idea of life without the internet seems not just impossible but also intimidating. 

A thought recently crossed our minds, though! Have you noticed how most of us use the internet daily (for entertainment and work,) but we don’t understand how it functions?  In our case, a special surprise was to discover the existence of bots!  These are specific computer programs that function as an agent for a user or other program. They can even simulate human activity on a website, such as, for example, mr bet. One of these robots particularly caught our attention, and that is robots.txt. Have you heard about it? In any case, we were amazed by all the things we 

learned, and we decided to share information with you. 

What Is a robots.txt File?

Robots. txt is a file that gives instructions to web robots on whether or not to crawl certain pages.   Another name for robots.txt is “robots exclusion protocol”, and the first traces of it can be found back in the mid-1990s when web spiders were often traveling to web pages.  It was so frequent that some webmasters naturally started to be worried about whom and what is visiting their pages.  A file, such as robots.txt format, allows website owners to have control over who can crawl their pages and how much info they can take.  Since this period, robots.txt advanced to meet the specific needs of web designers and website owners. 

So basically, when the search engine arrives at the website, it starts to look for instructions.  When writing out the protocol, there will be two commands that you are supposed to use.  The first one is “user-agent.” Based on this, it will be clear who is affected by the instructions. If there is an asterisk, it means that the instructions apply to all internet robots. 

Why is Robots.txt Important?

 For most websites, Google doesn’t have a problem finding the index of important pages.  Also, it will not index unimportant pages, nor will it duplicate them. That said, we can conclude that many websites don’t need it, regardless of whether it is robots.txt tester or WordPress robots.txt.  But there are some situations where you understand how useful robots.txt. check is. 

Google practically has a so-called crawl budget which refers to the time it spends to crawl a particular website.  If it becomes clear that crawling slows down the URL and harms the user’s experiences, Google will slow down the rate of crawlers.  As a result, the risk is that Google doesn’t realize the time that you added your content to your website, which ultimately hurts the SEO. 

When it comes to demand, more popular websites will get visited by the Google spiders more frequently.  

But as you don’t want your URL to be overwhelmed by these visits, it is good to use a robots.txt checker to have more control over your page.  There are some other reasons why you may want to figure out how to find robots.txt:

  • In some situations, the website might choose to duplicate pages. Say that, for example, you want to have a version of a page for printing, right? In that case, the website will automatically create two same pages. However, since Google has a penalty for duplicates, it is essential to avoid them, and robots.txt can help. 
  • Sometimes you will want to make some changes to your website. But you certainly don’t want that the pages you are working on to become visible to the entire world, do you?  The good news is that robots.txt WordPress allows you to hide the pages that are being restructured. 
  • Many websites also have pages that they don’t want to display for the public. For example, you can have a “Thank You” page after someone bought something from you or something like that.  It can be an example of robots.txt efficiency. 

Configuring the Robots.txt Protocol

The first step is to create the default robots.txt protocol. It is a pretty straightforward process. However, we will check out the meaning of the two parts of the protocol – user agent and disallow.  The first one refers to the crawlers, and the second to the things the crawler is not supposed to read.  There is a third part of the protocol labeled as ‘allow’. Let’s say that you have a page that you don’t want to show to others, right? But there is a part of this page that needs to be seen. It is where the “allow” function comes in handy.  If you, however, don’t have a problem with crawlers accessing the website, the “disallow” option will remain blank.

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Now, robots.txt looks generally and simple. But there are a few things you need to consider when 

creating the protocol:

  • Use exclusively lower case letters – robots.txt.
  • It has to be in the top-level directory of the server. 
  • URL can’t have more than one “disallow.” 
  • If you have subdomains with the same root domain, you need to create a protocol for each one. 

Okay, so now you set up the protocol. After that, it is recommended that you test it. For this part, you will need to create a Google Webmaster account.  Find a “crawl” option in the menu and click on it.  You will see a tester option. If Google approves the text, it means it is written correctly. 

Finding the robots.txt File? 

If you at some moment want to check your robots.txt, you should know that there is a pretty simple way to do it. The only thing you need to do is type the URL of your website and then add robots.txt at the end. You will see one of the three things:

  1. You will find a robots.txt file.
  2. There won’t be any files. 
  3. A 404 error window will pop up.

Conclusion 

As you could see, many websites don’t need or don’t use this program. However, in some cases, the lack of this protocol can negatively affect your SEO. The best way to prevent that is to create it. And as you saw, it is something that won’t take a lot of your time but will bring you plenty of benefits. Have you used this program before? 

Darrell D. Rios

Darrell Rios is a former journalist and owner of several local shops. Now in his spare time, he writes about business and entrepreneurship, as he has extensive experience in organizing startups and business analytics.

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