robots.txt is a file that is placed at the root of a website’s domain and is used to communicate with web robots (also known as crawlers or spiders) about which pages or files on the site should or should not be crawled or indexed.
The role of the robots.txt file
robots.txt file follows a specific syntax and format, and its rules are used by search engines and other web crawlers to determine which pages or files on a website they are allowed to access and index. By using the robots.txt file, website owners can control how their site is crawled and indexed and can prevent certain pages or files from being indexed or shown in search results.
robots.txt file contains a set of directives, which are rules that tell web robots which pages or files they are allowed or not allowed to access. The two most common directives used in
robots.txt files are
User-agent the directive specifies which web robots the rules apply to, and the
Disallow directive specifies which pages or files the robots are not allowed to access.
It is important to note that not all web robots obey
robots.txt rules, and some may ignore them completely. Additionally, the
robots.txt file only applies to crawling and indexing and does not prevent access to pages or files through other means, such as direct URLs or links.
Example of robots.txt
Here’s an example of a robots.txt file:
In this example, the robots.txt file is specifying rules for web crawlers that visit the website. The
User-agent directive specifies which crawler the following rules apply to. In this example, the rules apply to all crawlers (
*) as well as Googlebot.
Disallow the directive specifies which pages or directories should not be crawled by the specified crawler. For example, the
Disallow: /private/ directive tells all crawlers not to crawl any page or directory that begins with
Sitemap the directive specifies the location of the sitemap file for the website, which can help crawlers more efficiently discover all of the pages on the site.