What effect does robots.txt have on SEO?
If you have never heard of robots.txt, do not panic. It’s not compulsory, but it can be used to control what search engines see on your website. You may wonder why this is useful, after all you want the search engine robots to see, and index, your content, right?
The truth is that robots.txt can be useful on certain occasions. But, it does have limitations. It’s only a means of telling search engine robots which parts of your site they should not crawl. It does not prevent the pages you tell them not to crawl from being displayed in search results. Let’s take a look at robots.txt in more detail, and see how it affects SEO.
What is a robot.txt file?
Put simply, a robot.txt file is a file which is created by you and saved at the root of your site. It tells all, or specific, search engine crawlers which parts of your website you do not want them to access. A robot.txt file is created using strict syntax and contains a set of commands.
Why use a robot.txt file?
As we have already mentioned, you do not need to have a robot.txt file for your website. But, it can be of use in certain circumstances. Every website has an allowance which dictates how many pages on a website can be crawled. This is known by SEO professionals as the crawl budget.
If you have pages on your website which have little intrinsic value, or are similar to other pages, you may not want to use up your crawl allowance by enabling search engine robots to crawl them. It’s better for your SEO if you restrict crawling to more productive pages. If this is the case, a robot.txt file can be used to restrict crawling to certain parts of the site.
This can also be useful if there are parts of your site which you are still working on, and which are not fully optimised for SEO. You can instruct search engine robots not to crawl these parts.
An important restriction
It’s important to note that a robot.txt file does not prevent pages from being displayed in search engine results. If you want to do this you should use noindex tags. You cannot use these if you have restricted crawling using a robot.txt file as the search engine robots will not see the noindex tags.
You may be wondering why pages would show up in search engine rankings if search engine robots cannot crawl them. This can happen if there are a number of links to these pages on the web. It can be damaging to your SEO if pages are displayed in rankings that you do no want to be there. So, you should consider using noindex tags, if this is the case.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of robots.txt, and how it can affect your SEO. The topic can be complex and, if you are considering using a robots.txt file, it may be wise to seek advice from experts in marketing online in Sydney. They have the experience and expertise to help you ensure that the actions you take have a positive effect on your SEO.