Robots.txt: What is it and how does it work?

When you step into the web universe, you are closely connected to the realm of search engines, web crawlers, and the various intricacies that dictate the behavior of these digital functions. At the heart of this complex universe lies a file that stands out for its influence: the robots.txt.

What are robots.txt?

Robots.txt files are simple text files that website owners deploy within their domain to communicate with search engine web crawlers. It serves as a guide, indicating which elements of the site can be explored and indexed by these robots and which elements should remain private.

But how do these robots.txt files work?

When a web crawler arrives at a website, its first step is to check for the presence of the robots.txt file. This file acts as a map indicating areas where the crawler is welcome and those it should avoid. It follows the instructions specified in this file before deciding which pages to explore.

Syntax of robots.txt files

The syntax of robots.txt files is relatively simple, but it plays a crucial role in managing the behavior of web crawlers on a website. Let’s explore in detail some commonly used commands:


This directive specifies which robot or group of robots the following instructions apply to.


Indicates parts of the site that the web crawler should not access.


Reverses the effect of Disallow, allowing the crawler to access specific sections.


Specifies a delay between the crawler’s requests, useful for avoiding overloading the server.

By adhering to the syntax of the robots.txt file and using these functions judiciously, site administrators can influence the behavior of web crawlers, improve crawl efficiency, and protect specific parts of the site as needed.

Why are robots.txt important?

Robots.txt files are crucial elements for website management and SEO enhancement.

Here is their utility within your site:

Indexation control:

Robots.txt allows website owners to decide which parts of their site will be explored and indexed by search engines. By excluding specific sections, owners can optimize their natural SEO.

Crawl budget optimization:

The crawl budget represents the resources that a search engine allocates to exploring a site. By using robots.txt to indicate what crawlers should or should not explore, owners optimize this allocation. This allows search engines to focus on essential pages, improving crawl efficiency.

Protection of sensitive data:

Robots.txt becomes a vital tool for protecting sensitive or confidential data on a site. By restricting access to web crawlers, owners avoid the disclosure of certain sensitive information, such as confidential documents.

In summary, the robots.txt file offers site owners a way to guide the behavior of web crawlers, protect sensitive information, and optimize crawl efficiency. It plays an essential role in managing online visibility.

Common errors to avoid when using:

Incorrect syntax in robots.txt files can lead to misinterpretation errors by web crawlers. Poorly written directives can have unintended consequences on site indexing. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the syntax of robots.txt files is correct.

Misconfiguration of the file can also lead to the accidental blocking of important elements of the site. This means that crucial parts for site SEO may be excluded from indexing, negatively impacting the work done on the site’s SEO. To avoid this, it is recommended to carefully check blocking and permission rules.

The absence of the robots.txt file can be interpreted as an invitation for web crawlers to explore the entire site. To avoid this, it is recommended to create a robots.txt file even if it is empty. This establishes clear communication with web crawlers and specifies directives, even if all are allowed.

By ensuring to avoid these errors, site owners can optimize the use of the robots.txt file to influence the behavior of web crawlers precisely and beneficially for the SEO of their site.

Robots.txt plays a crucial role in managing how web crawlers interact with your website. By configuring them correctly, site owners can influence indexing, optimize crawl budgets, and protect sensitive data. It is an essential tool for web administrators looking to optimize online visibility and control the flow of information.

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