Is your website being overlooked? Are you frustrated with the lack of improvement in the SERPs despite your diligent efforts? Well, don’t worry friend, you are not alone.

Many webmasters out there have invested significant time and resources into SEO, yet have still not seen the results they were expecting. While there may be a wide range of issues contributing to this lack of improvement, I’m here to tell you that one solution you should be considering is the X-Robots Tag.

In this blog post, I’ll be talking about what an X-Robots Tag is and how you can utilize it to boost your SEO. I’ll also discuss the benefits of taking this approach and how to successfully implement X-Robots Tags on your website. So, if you’re looking for a way to get that extra edge in the SERPs, then this post is for you! Let’s dive in.

Quick Explanation of Key Question

An X-Robots tag is a code that can be inserted into the HTML of a website to control search engine crawler behavior. It can also be used to prevent pages from being indexed in search engines, or to provide specialized indexing instructions.

What is the X-Robots Tag?

The X-Robots Tag (XRT) is an HTML tag that helps webmasters control how search engine ‘crawlers’ access and index their site. It has become increasingly important in recent years as more website owners strive to boost their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

This meta tag was released in 2018 by Google as part of a larger effort to provide webmasters with more granular control over search engine indexing. Instead of just being able to control broad parameters, such as whether or not a webpage is indexed, the new feature allows webmasters to set up rules for individual files and documents on their sites. This means that they can specify that certain pages should not be indexed or displayed in search results, without having to block them from view entirely.

The X-Robots Tag also allows for the use of robots.txt files on websites, which restrict access to certain pages by preventing crawlers from accessing them. This can be particularly useful when it comes to protecting proprietary information or sensitive content that would otherwise be exposed by appearing in search results.

There has been much debate in online forums as to whether or not the XRT should be used as a replacement for robots.txt files, or used in conjunction with them instead. While it could be argued that the XRT provides more granular control over what crawlers are allowed to access on a given website, there have been reports of sites experiencing reduced traffic due to the overly restrictive nature of the XRT. Ultimately, it depends on the individual circumstances and preferences of each site owner as to whether or not they should utilize this particular meta tag for SEO purposes.

In conclusion, the X-Robots Tag is an important development in SEO that has enabled website owners an unprecedented level of control over how their websites are accessed and indexed by search engines. Moving forward into the next section, we will take a look at how this tag works and how it can be implemented most effectively.

Crucial Points to Remember

The X-Robots Tag (XRT) is an HTML tag created by Google in 2018 to give website owners more granular control over how search engine crawlers index their site, allowing them to specify which pages and documents should not be indexed or displayed in results. It can also be used with robots.txt files to protect proprietary information from being exposed. However, there have been reports of over-restrictive XRTs resulting in reduced traffic, so it depends on individual circumstances as to whether or not it should be used for SEO purposes.

How Does the X-Robots Tag Work?

The X-Robots tag is an extremely useful and powerful tool for SEOs and webmasters alike. It works by providing instructions to search engine crawlers on how they should handle a page or set of pages. Essentially, the tag can be used to determine whether a page should be indexed, cached, or made unavailable in a given situation.

This is exceptionally useful in blocking out duplicate content from being indexed by search engines, as it can inform them not to index certain parts of a website or certain files. Additionally, it can be used to prevent search engine bots from accessing certain pages, such as password protected areas of a website or areas that serve no purpose for SEO purposes. The tag can also be used to tell search engines which version of a page to crawl: for example if you are using a switch between versions depending on the visitors’ IP address or user-agent.

The power of the X-Robots tag also comes with extra responsibility since any mistakes with the usage can end up fundamentally breaking your SEO efforts. Bot unintentionally blocking important pages or resources can lead to disastrous consequences in rank and click-through rate (CTR). While its use can bring tremendous gains when implemented correctly, it also carries the risk of unintended errors that could lead to irreparable damage.

Finally, the X-Robots tag is only compatible with most major search engines; while Google, Bing and Yahoo all tend to respect what these tags tell them to do, smaller search engines may not honor them at all unless there are some additional steps taken by the webmaster.

With this understanding of how the X-Robots tag works, we now enter into the next section about how it affects a search engine’s crawling/indexing process.

How Does the X-Robots Tag affect Search Engines’ Crawling/Indexing?

The X-Robots tag is important for SEO because it can help shape how search engines such as Google and Bing crawl and index webpages. This tag can be used to specify if a page should not be indexed, or even to prevent the content of the page from being cached. For example, if you want to make sure that search engines don’t index your website’s HTML version, you would use the X-Robots tag to tell the search engine bot not to crawl the page. This is beneficial when webmasters want to ensure that only the canonical version of their webpage is displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It is important to note that some argue that using a noindex directive with the X-Robots tag will not always be respected by some major search engines. Although Google honors this kind of tags, Bing does not respect noindex tags when submitting documents trough its Bing Webmaster Tools API. That’s why it is important to thoroughly research each individual search engine’s crawling/indexing policies in order to ensure proper optimization of your website’s resources for maximum visibility.

Overall, an X-Robots Tag can be an effective way for webmasters to control which pages are indexed by search engines and crawled by bots; however, results may vary depending on which specific search engine crawlers are being optimized for. In the next section we will examine how this particular tag affects Google specifically.

  • According to Google, using X-Robots tags can help improves the handling of content by allowing a website’s owner to specify how their website should be indexed and served to users in search results.
  • An X-Robots tag offers a range of commands, including ‘noindex’, which prevents search engines from indexing the page; ‘nofollow’, which prevents search engine crawlers from following links on the page; and ‘nosnippet’, which hides snippets like page titles and descriptions in the search results.
  • A study published in 2017 found that implementing appropriate X-Robots tags can increase a website’s organic visibility on major search engines by up to 20%.

How Does the X-Robots Tag Affect Google?

The X-Robots Tag affects Google in two primary ways: by instructing which URLs should and should not be indexed, and by overriding the robots.txt file to allow certain URLs to be indexed.

Instructing Indexed URLs: An X-Robots tag can be used to “disallow” a URL from being indexed meaning that Google will not include it in search results. This might be useful if you want to prevent duplicate page versions from appearing in the search engine results page (SERP). Additionally, an X-Robots tag may also be used to control whether a website’s cached version appears in the SERP. However, due to the fact that these instructions are applied on a page by page basis and can easily be overridden, most site owners prefer to use the robots.txt file for these types of instructions.

Overriding Robots.txt: The X-Robots tag can also be used to reenforce a robots.txt restrictions but allowing certain pages or sections of a website that would normally be blocked by the robots.txt file to still appear in the SERP. This may appear counterintuitive at first given that those URLs were previously blocked by the robots.txt file but can be beneficial if you have content with dynamic URLs that contain session IDs, such as a shopping cart checkout process. These types of dynamic URLs would normally get blocked when detected by robots.txt, but allowing them could lead to indexation issues, so allowing them via an X-Robots tag provides a middle ground solution for site owners seeking more control over what gets indexed on their behalf by Google.

Despite it’s advantages, using an X-Robots tag is no substitute for following best practices outlined within the Webmaster Guidelines like properly maintaining all URLs within any XML sitemaps, using regular expressions within your robots.txt file instead of disallowing whole content subsections across your site without exception and excluding any sensitive information from indexation where necessary such as user social security numbers or passwords etc.

Careful consideration should be taken before implementing an X-Robots tag as improper implementation can lead to search engine indexation problems down the line however it can provide some additional flexibility for controlling what gets indexed for larger sites who wish for added levels of control.

Now that we have established how does an X-RobsTag affects Google let us move onto discussing how this behaviour can be further refined via directives and how these directives can help inform SEO strategies moving forward in the next section about “Using X-Robots Tag Directives”.

Using X-Robots Tag Directives

Using X-Robots Tag Directives allows you to target single pages or specific content on a page and control how search engine bots index and crawl that page. It can be used to give directives to all major search engines including Google and Bing. The most common X-Robots Tag Directive is ‘noindex’ which instructs the search engine not to include that page in its index. This is useful for minimizing the clutter from low quality or duplicate content. Another common tag directive is ‘nofollow’ which instructs bots not to follow any links on the page, thus preventing them from passing link equity down the chain. This is often used when linking out to external sources that you don’t trust or deem of low value. A third useful tag directive is ‘none’ which combines both noindex and nofollow together – this will tell search engines not to index or follow any link on that page.

On one side of the argument many SEO professionals suggest implementing X-Robots Tag Directives should be considered mandatory practice as it allows a lot more control over how your website ranks, however there are arguments against it as well. If too many pages get indexed, there could be consequences stemming from thin content issues as Google may view it as an attempt at manipulating their algorithms.

Now that we understand what X-Robots Tag Directives are and have explored debates surrounding them, in the next section we will discuss how to configure them so they work with our websites.

How to Configure X-Robots Tag Directives

X-Robots tag is a powerful tool that allows webmasters to make decisions about how search engine crawlers should handle their websites. This can include indexing and archiving rules, as well as directives on how to treat specific content types such as PDF files or images. Configuring X-Robots tags is a straightforward process but requires you to be able to accurately identify your target audience.

Before configuring the X-Robots tag, it is important to first understand the available directives and their implications for SEO. Each directive has certain values that must be specified when entered into the x-robots tag. There are two main directives which are the ‘Index’ and ‘Noindex’ values. The Index directive indicates that the page should be indexed by search engines, while the Noindex directive will prevent the page from being indexed. Generally speaking, indexing all pages on a website except for those explicitly marked for noindex is recommended for good SEO performance. However, in some cases it may be beneficial to instruct search engine crawlers not to index certain pages or content types, such as private documents or administrative settings like robots.txt.

In addition to ‘Index’ and ‘Noindex’ directives, there are other settings you can specify with x-robots tags like ‘Follow’ and ‘Nofollow’ which dictate whether search engine crawlers should follow links on the page or not. Specifying these values may be useful in preventing link spam if you have external links pointing to pages that could potentially damage your website’s ranking.

Depending on your objectives, there may be additional settings you want to specify in the X-Robots tag including caching rules, crawling delays, or Robots Search Keywords (RSK). Careful consideration should be taken when configuring these settings as incorrect use of the x-robots tag can result in loss of traffic or leads from search engines.

Once all desired instuctions are identified and properly configured for each page or content type, simply add and save the values inside an HTTP header with an “x-robots-tag:” directive followed by your instructions separated by commas. Ensure that this header is present on every HTML page or file you want to control with an X-Robot tag and then save changes after making sure everything has been configured correctly.

Having discussed what they X-Robot Tag is and how to configure it, it is now time to look at some of the advantages of using it for SEO purposes so let’s move into our next section discussing the Benefits of Using the X-Robots Tag..

Benefits of Using the X-Robots Tag

The X-Robots Tag is a versatile tool with a range of benefits for businesses and webmasters looking to optimize their search engine rankings. Many believe that the X-Robots Tag is an essential part of any SEO strategy, while others argue that it is an outdated tool.

For those who are familiar with X-Robots Tags and how they work, there are a number of advantages to using them. For instance, these tags can save webmasters time by allowing them to block access to URLs they no longer wish to index in the search engines. By removing unnecessary pages from the crawl cycle, this helps improve the overall speed and performance of a website, as well as its position in the rankings.

In addition, due to the ease at which X-Robots Tags can be implemented, website owners can control exactly which files, pages or directories not to index in a manner of minutes. Plus, this allows for granular page specific instructions right down to the page level if required.

Some debate whether or not X-Robots tags should be used as part of an SEO strategy at all. While it’s true that they can be beneficial when used properly, if misused badly it can cause more problems than it solves. In addition, some argue that robots meta tags are now outdated given that the noindex value is available through the use of directives in HTTP Headers or robots.txt files.

Overall though, X-Robots Tags remain an important part of understanding how a website operates within the SERPs and still offer many advantages for managing your online presence in a streamlined way.

The next section looks at The Future of X-Robots Tags and what this might mean for businesses and webmasters alike.

The Future of X-Robots Tags

The future of X-Robots tags is far-reaching and could play an increasingly important role in the optimization of search engine rankings. With the ever-evolving technology landscape, there could be potential for even more utilization and customizability with the use of X-Robots tags.

One proposed use for X-Robots tags includes reinforcing a site’s crawl budget, which is limited by Google’s technical resources and delivery mechanisms. A website’s crawl budget can be maximized by separating important page and content into discrete categories like HTML, CSS, videos, and other media. When done properly and strategically, this helps to ensure that Googlebot indexes and crawls all relevant content on each page. However, it is important to note that using X-Robots tags has not yet been documented as being effective in actually increasing the crawl rate of a website.

Proponents also suggest that X-Robots tags may eventually become an integral tool for modern webmasters, allowing them to control how their pages are indexed and presented by search engines such as Google and Bing. Through careful optimization aimed at optimizing specific search engine metrics such as relevancy and authority, SEO professionals could theoretically achieve better rankings faster than before. In addition to helping optimize keyword visibility, advanced uses of X-Robots tags could potentially even give webmasters the ability to dictate where the backlinks directing users to their sites come from.

On the other hand, some oppose such widespread utilization of X-Robot tags arguing that it may lead to spam manipulation from unethical actors who intend to game the system for their own gain. There have also been concerns about whether or not search bots will be able to easily recognize these tags without causing damage elsewhere in their algorithm rankings or potentially compromising search user privacy.

Overall, while there are both pros and cons to consider when thinking about the future of X-Robots tags, they still remain a useful tool that SEO professionals should take advantage of if possible. With appropriate implementations, X-Robots tags can improve a website’s performance and ranking potential in major search engines quickly resulting in improved traffic and conversions.

Frequently Asked Questions Explained

What are the most common uses of X-Robots tags?

The most common uses of X-Robots tags are to control the indexing and archiving of webpages by search engine spiders. Specifically, they are used to tell a spider not to index or archive certain pages or page elements (like images). They can also be used to tell a spider not to follow links on the page, or to block access from a specific user agent. This helps prevent duplication and over-indexing for SEO purposes, allowing content creators more control over how their pages are indexed and represented in search engine results.

How do I create and implement an X-Robots tag?

Creating and implementing an X-Robots tag is relatively straightforward. The first step is to determine which pages you want to use the X-Robots tag on. This can be done by identifying the most important pages on your website that search engines should crawl and index. Once you’ve identified these pages, create a robots.txt file or modify the existing one to include a “X-Robots” directive for each page that should be indexed.

For example, if you wanted search engines to index your contact page but not your login page you would add the following lines of code to your robots.txt file:

Allow: /contact/

Disallow: /login/

X-Robots: index, follow

The ‘index’ directive tells search engines they are allowed to show these pages in their index, while the ‘follow’ directive allows them to crawl through links on that page as well.

Once you’ve added the necessary directives, save the robots.txt file and upload it to the root directory of your website or wherever other robots files might be located. Then test the robots.txt file using a tool like Varvy’s Robots tester or Google’s Robot Testing Tool to make sure everything is working correctly. Finally, don’t forget to submit your sitemap URL to all major search engines so they can start crawling and indexing your website according to your instructions.

How does an X-Robots tag improve SEO rankings?

An X-Robots tag improves SEO rankings by instructing search engines on how to index, crawl, and serve a webpage’s content. The tag can be used to specify whether content should be indexed and the type of link following allowed. This can help improve SEO rankings by making sure search engines are aware of the most relevant content and taking extra steps to avoid indexing redundant or irrelevant material that would hurt your ranking. Additionally, using an X-Robots tag to identify pages with duplicate content can help ensure that known duplicate sources don’t receive more weight. Finally, using the tag can help optimize page speed by fetching resources more quickly and efficiently, something that is taken into account when determining SEO rankings.

Last Updated on February 27, 2023

Matt Jackson

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at