Robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (typically search engine crawlers) how to crawl and index pages on their website. The file is placed at the root of the site and is one of the primary ways of managing website crawler traffic.


The primary purpose of robots.txt is to communicate with search engine bots and provide guidance about which areas of a site should not be processed or scanned. It serves as a form of control over a sites interaction with web crawlers.


Robots.txt files use the Robots Exclusion Standard, which is a protocol with a small set of commands that can restrict or allow the actions of user-agentspecifically web crawlers. 

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of a robots.txt file as a blocking tool is only as good as the bot’s compliance with the protocol. Respectful bots, like those from major search engines, will follow the directives in a robots.txt file, but it is possible for some bots to ignore these requests.


  • The ‘Disallow’ directive should be used carefully, as it can prevent search engines from indexing important content, which might impact the site’s SEO performance.
  • The use of wildcards is supported for matching patterns.
  • The ‘Allow’ directive can be used to override a ‘Disallow’ directive in order to be more specific about what a bot can crawl.
  • A robots.txt file does not prevent the listing of URLs in search results; it only prevents bots from crawling the content. For preventing the listing of pages, the noindex directive should be used within the HTML of the page.

It is also possible to link to a sitemap from the robots.txt to aid crawlers in discovering all the URLS on a site.

Security reminder:

It is essential not to use the robots.txt file to hide sensitive information because the file is publicly accessible. To secure content, other methods such as password protection should be employed.


Regular audits of the robots.txt file are recommended to ensure it aligns with the current site structure and SEO strategy. Changes in the website’s content management might necessitate updates to the directives listed in the robots.txt file.


How can I use the robots.txt file to control bot access to specific content?

To control bot access to specific content, you can use the User-agent and Disallow directives within the robots.txt file. By specifying which URLs to disallow for certain bots, you can restrict their crawling activities on your site.

What is the purpose of a robots.txt file?

The purpose of a robots.txt file is to instruct search engine crawlers on how to crawl and index pages on a website, providing guidance on which areas should not be processed or scanned.

What security considerations should be kept in mind when utilizing a robots.txt file?

When using a robots.txt file, it is important not to include sensitive information in the directives, as the file is publicly accessible. For securing sensitive content, other methods such as password protection should be implemented to prevent unauthorized access.

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