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

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Search engine optimization, in its most fundamental sense, trusts something above all others: Online search engine spiders crawling and indexing your website.

However nearly every website is going to have pages that you do not wish to consist of in this exploration.

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

In a best-case situation, these are doing nothing to drive traffic to your website actively, and in a worst-case, they could be diverting traffic from more vital pages.

Fortunately, Google enables web designers to tell search engine bots what pages and content to crawl and what to overlook. There are numerous ways to do this, the most typical being using a robots.txt file or the meta robotics tag.

We have an outstanding and in-depth explanation of the ins and outs of robots.txt, which you need to absolutely check out.

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

Robots.txt offers spiders with guidelines about the site as a whole, while meta robots tags consist of directions for specific pages.

Some meta robots tags you may employ include index, which tells online search engine to include the page to their index; noindex, which informs it not to add a page to the index or include it in search engine result; follow, which instructs 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 work tools to keep in your toolbox, however there’s also another way 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 method for you to control how your web pages are crawled and indexed by spiders. As part of the HTTP header reaction to a URL, it controls indexing for an entire page, as well as the particular elements on that page.

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

But this, naturally, raises the concern:

When Should You Utilize The X-Robots-Tag?

According to Google, “Any regulation that can be utilized in a robots meta tag can likewise be specified as an X-Robots-Tag.”

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

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

For instance, if you want to obstruct a particular image or video from being crawled– the HTTP reaction technique makes this easy.

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

Possibly you don’t desire a particular page to be cached and want it to be unavailable after a particular date. You can use a mix of “noarchive” and “unavailable_after” tags to instruct online search engine bots to follow these instructions.

Basically, the power of the X-Robots-Tag is that it is a lot more versatile than the meta robots tag.

The advantage of utilizing an X-Robots-Tag with HTTP responses is that it enables you to use regular expressions to carry out crawl instructions on non-HTML, along with apply criteria on a bigger, global level.

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

Here’s a convenient cheat sheet to explain:

Crawler Directives Indexer Directives
Robots.txt– uses the user representative, permit, prohibit, and sitemap directives to define where on-site search engine bots are allowed to crawl and not permitted to crawl. Meta Robotics tag– enables you to specify and prevent search engines from revealing particular pages on a website in search results page.

Nofollow– allows you to define links that should not pass on authority or PageRank.

X-Robots-tag– enables you to control how specified 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 setup or a.htaccess file.

The X-Robots-Tag can be contributed to a site’s HTTP actions in an Apache server setup via.htaccess file.

Real-World Examples And Uses Of The X-Robots-Tag

So that sounds excellent in theory, however what does it appear like in the real life? Let’s have a look.

Let’s say we wanted 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 below:

location ~ * . pdf$ add_header X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”;

Now, let’s look at a different scenario. Let’s say 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 note that understanding how these directives work and the impact they have on one another is important.

For instance, what occurs 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 particular indexing and serving directives can not be found and will not be followed.

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

Look for An X-Robots-Tag

There are a few various methods that can be utilized to check for an X-Robots-Tag on the website.

The easiest method to inspect is to set up a web browser extension that will tell you X-Robots-Tag details 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 used, for example, is the Web Designer plugin.

By clicking the plugin in your browser and browsing to “View Action Headers,” you can see the different HTTP headers being used.

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

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

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

Screenshot of Yelling Frog Report. X-Robot-Tag, December 2022 Using X-Robots-Tags On Your Website Comprehending and controlling how online search engine engage with your website is

the foundation of search engine optimization. And the X-Robots-Tag is an effective tool you can use to do just that. Simply know: It’s not without its threats. It is extremely simple to slip up

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

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