Do you want the search results for your website to show up higher? Then it’s likely you have read over the best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Additionally, for your website and its many web pages to appear in search results, search engine bots need to crawl and index them (robots).
Robots.txt and an XML sitemap are two different files on the technical side of your website that assist these bots in finding what they require.
The robots.txt file is a straightforward text file located in the root directory of your website. This file contains instructions that specify which pages on your website search engine robots can and cannot crawl.
The robots.txt file can also prevent certain robots from visiting the website. For example, if a website is under construction, it may make sense to restrict robots from accessing it until it is ready for launch.
The robots.txt file is generally the first thing crawlers look at when they visit a website. Even if you want all robots to access every page on your website, it’s still a good idea to include a robots.txt file that allows this.
An XML website sitemap is an XML file that lists all of the pages on a website that you want search engine robots to find and visit.
XML sitemaps can also list additional information about each URL in the form of metadata. An XML website sitemap, like robots.txt, is a must-have.
It’s critical not just to ensure that search engine bots can find all of your pages but also to help them understand the significance of your web pages.
How Do Sitemaps and Robots.txt Relate?
Robots.txt and website sitemap.xml is essential files that can assist search engines in better understanding and indexing your website. As a result, robots.txt and XML sitemaps complement each other.
Significance of Robot.txt Files
Before crawling your website, search engines check your robots.txt file to determine which pages they can crawl and index in search engine results.
If you don’t desire search engines to index your website, robots.txt files work well:
1. Duplicate or broken pages on your website.
2. Internal search results pages.
3. Certain areas of your website or an entire domain.
4. Specific files on your website, such as images and PDFs.
5. Login pages.
6. Staging websites for developers.
7. Your XML website sitemap.
Search engines concentrate on crawling the crucial pages rather than the unnecessary pages when you use robots.txt files to remove the pages that bring no value.
Due to their limited “crawl budget,” search engines can only scan a specific number of pages daily.
Therefore, you should block all irrelevant URLs to offer them the best opportunity of finding your pages promptly.
To avoid overloading your server, you can also use a crawl delay, which instructs robots to hold off on crawling specific pages for a brief period.
A more reliable and long-lasting solution can be achieved by optimizing your crawl budget rather than depending on Googlebot, which does not recognize this command.
Significance of XML Website Sitemaps
An XML website sitemap is a blueprint of the crucial components of your website.
Although web crawlers should be capable of finding your site’s pages if they are correctly connected (both internally and externally), an XML sitemap ensures that they crawl and index the most relevant content.
XML sitemaps aren’t mandatory, but they are valuable tools, especially if you have a large website with numerous pages or, on the other end of the spectrum, a new site with few external links.
You can raise your website sitemap to search engines directly, but crawlers will be able to find it when they visit your site if you have a robots.txt file directing them to it.
How to create a robots.txt file and add it to your website?
If a robots.txt file does not already exist on your computer. To do so, follow and proceed with these steps:
1. Initiate a new text file and name it “robots.txt”
Use a text editor, such as Notepad for Windows PCs or TextEdit on Macs, and then “Save As” a text-delimited file, ensuring the extension is “.txt”
2. Add the file to your website’s root directory.
Typically, this is a root-level folder with the prefix “htdocs” or “www,” which places it right after your domain name.
3. Create a robots.txt file for each sub-domain
Only if you use any sub-domains
Enter yourdomain.com/robots.txt into your browser’s address bar to view the robots.txt file.
How to create and submit XML Sitemap?
1: Compile every URL for your website.
2. Code the URLs.
3. Log in to Google Search Console and select “Sitemaps” from the menu on the left.
4. Add your sitemap’s URL where it says “Add a new sitemap” at the top of the page.
5. After you click submit, Google will start to crawl your brand-new XML sitemap.
Robots.txt and XML website sitemaps may not be at the top of your SEO priority list, but they should not be ignored.
By creating a sitemap and adding a robots.txt file to your site, you’ll have more control over how your website gets crawled and ultimately indexed, which should improve your overall SEO.