It's a Thursday evening. You are looking at your website logs to determine where your hits are coming from. You notice you are getting a ton of 404 errors records for a robots.txt file.
You might not even know what a robots.txt file is, let alone why it is missing from your website. Let take a look at this mysterious file that seems to be missing and why it's important to have it.
Search engines like Google cruise the internet by sending out their spidering software. These are commonly known as spiderbots. The spiderbots visit websites all around the internet to include them in their index listings. The first thing they look for when they visit is a file called the robots.txt file. This file normally is found in the root directory of hosted website.
This file contains a set of rules that the spiders are programmed to obey based on standard protocol. These rules help the visiting spider determine what part of your website to include or to ignore all together.
The most common rule used in the robots.txt file is to deny the search engine spiders access to restricted areas of your website that you don't want them visiting and indexing for the whole internet to view.
These restricted areas normally contain your downloads, images, or a cgi-bin directory that are used only by your website visitors or for the normal daily operations of you website.
What A robots.txt file is not....
Keep in mind that a robots.txt file is not a method to keep your information secure and safe from prying eyes. It simply is used to lock visiting spiders from indexing areas of your website.
Note that using a robots.txt file does not speed up the process of search engines indexing and getting your website in their search directories. Also, a robots.txt file is not used to tell search engine spiders what to do, only what not to do.
Benefits of using a robots.txt file:
If you have parts of your website that are very similar you can block them from being crawled to avoid being flagged as a spammer. This is especially useful if you have similar pages optimized for different website browsers or website connection speeds.
You eliminate 404 errors for missing robots.txt from your server logs by using a robots.txt file. Just create a blank robots.txt file in a basic text file editing program and upload it to your root directory.
Can be used to block search engine spiders from indexing part or all of your website saving valuable bandwidth
Creating A robots.xt
Creating a robots.txt file is not complicated but you should be sure to do it correctly. If your file contains incorrect rules it can completely block all spiders and prevent them from indexing your website.
You can create a robots.txt file using a simple text editing program like NotePad or you can generate a file automatically using several software programs or online website resources.
For information and rules on how to manually create a robots.txt file