Robots.txt: understand what it is and how to use it on your website

In recent years, few actions have become as fundamental to building a successful brand as having websites well ranked in search engines. A company that seeks to put itself on the path of success must necessarily have a strong and consistent digital presence .

Digital positioning became decisive and new marketing actions became necessary. All these new demands have required preparation and new expertise, especially with regard to understanding how digital platforms work.

Thus, techniques and strategies developed with the aim of placing the site on the first pages of Google have become essential for companies. In this context, having a correct website, with relevant information and functions that are really useful to users, has become a key point to conquer new customers.

But how do you ensure that a website actually appears in search results? And more, how to ensure that sensitive information, both from brands and customers, does not end up on pages in search engines? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today, and many other features.

The robots.txt files. are intended to make it possible to control which pages and file contents crawlers can access, in addition to optimizing the indexing of the website’s pages.

Were you curious about it? In this article, we’ll explain everything about robots.txt. and how to use it on your site to ensure a safe experience for your users.

What is a robots.txt file?

The first step in understanding how to control everything that is indexed by search engines is to understand what, in fact, a robots.txt file is.

In a very succinct way, a robots.txt file is a programming code that is inserted at the root of the site and informs the robots of the search platforms which are the indexing guidelines, that is, which pages can appear in the search results and which ones cannot.

But you must be wondering: what robots are these? Well, all search platforms have mechanisms dedicated to scouring the entire internet in search of the pages that should be indexed in their results.

That is, when you go to a search engine and search for “digital marketing”, the platform offers you pages that contain this term and that were indexed by it.

At Google, for example, we have the Googlebot, also called “Spider” or just “Bot”. This robot searches for each new page that is published, analyzing its terms and directing it to the search results.

The robots.txt file has the objective of creating criteria that direct the access of these robots to the pages of the site.

What are the purposes of a robots.txt file?

As already clarified, the robots.txt file serves to guide the robots that index the pages in search engines what they should do in relation to the content.

Its most frequent application is to manage that sensitive information is out of reach of platforms, such as personal customer data.

When completing an e-commerce purchase, for example, users must enter information on the site that is highly confidential, such as CPF and credit card number. With the robots.txt file you determine that pages containing this type of data are not displayed in search results.

However, it is not only to protect personal data that the robots.txt file is used. Pages with repeated content, which are quite common in paid traffic strategies, may also not be indexed.

There are several cases of pages that may not be interesting for search results, therefore, the use of robots.txt must always be aligned with SEO strategies with the company and site security.

What are the benefits of implementing it on a website?

 In addition to ensuring that there is no tracking of sensitive information by indexing robots, the robots.txt file is essential to make the usability of your site much more accurate.

Googlebot’s guideline is to crawl the pages of the website without letting this affect the user experience. For this, there must be a data search limit made on a website. It’s what we call a crawl rate.

When a site has too many pages, or a very slow response time during crawling, some pages may simply be left out of indexing.

To prevent this from happening, programmers use robots.txt files to hide pages that don’t have information relevant to the site’s performance, giving priority to those whose content will be decisive for ranking.

How to create a robots.txt file?

Well, now that you know all the essential information about robots.txt, the next step is to understand how to apply this feature in practice.

As already mentioned at the beginning of the article, the robots.txt is a programming code that is inserted in the root of the site , so that the extension of the resources indicates to us, it is a .txt file, that is, a content in text.

Its commands act very similarly to other programming languages ​​used for the web, such as HTML.

There are several commands in the robots.txt file. Here we list the main ones:

  • User-agent — the user-agent command is used to indicate which robot the rule will be applied to, that is, to select specific bots that should follow the commands that were determined;
  • Disallow — the Disallow command determines which files on the site should not be indexed and, therefore, need to be excluded from search results;
  • Allow — acting in the opposite way, the Allow command informs the indexing robots which files and pages should be crawled, granting access to the correct directories;
  • Sitemap command — another function performed by robots.txt, and extremely useful, is the indication of the page’s sitemap, which helps to identify all the pages contained in the site.

Ensuring that the site ranks well on the pages is a very complex job. SEO strategies, when not aligned with good website usability, may not be able to ensure access to content.

Having a website in the first positions of Google involves strategies and a deep knowledge about content indexing mechanisms.

The robots.txt file is essential to ensure that website content is crawled correctly, allowing customers to find exactly what brands can offer and preserving security for sensitive data.

Want to know more about how to make sure your website ranks high on Google? In the article SEO Analysis: the key to having your content at the top of searches, you’ll learn everything about how to do an SEO analysis in practice to have content fully optimized for searches.

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