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What is a Robots.txt file?

What is a Robots.txt file?

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Robots.txt file

Web site owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol.

It works likes this: a robot wants to vists a Web site URL, say http://www.example.com/welcome.html. Before it does so, it firsts checks for http://www.example.com/robots.txt, and finds:

  • User-agent: *
  • Disallow: /

The “User-agent: *” means this section applies to all robots. The “Disallow: /” tells the robot that it should not visit any pages on the site.

There are two important considerations when using /robots.txt:

  • robots can ignore your /robots.txt. Especially malware robots that scan the web for security vulnerabilities, and email address harvesters used by spammers will pay no attention
  • the /robots.txt file is a publicly available file. Anyone can see what sections of your server you don’t want robots to use.

Robots.txt works well for:

  • Barring crawlers from non-public parts of your website
  • Barring search engines from trying to index scripts, utilities, or other types of code
  • Avoiding the indexation of duplicate content on a website, such as “print” versions of html pages
  • Auto-discovery of XML Sitemaps.
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