It is no secret that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a fast-paced game. We get why business owners can be intimidated when trying to learn SEO. With the constantly changing search engine updates, to the vast amount of technical lingo, it can be overwhelming to understand it all. We get it. That is why we’re here to highlight the tips and tools that we recommend for a variety of specialties.
Today’s highlight: Robots.txt and XML Sitemaps
Robots.txt and sitemap.xml are both part of the technical part of SEO. They both are directives that give a nudge to search engines on how to crawl a website.
This is a text file that is created by webmasters to instruct robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl the pages on their website.
You may be asking yourself, but why would I even need a robots.txt file? Some common reasons to block crawlers can include:
- Keeping entire sections of a website private (like a staging site, or authenticated login sections)
- Preventing bots from crawling and indexing certain files (like PDFs or images you don’t want showing up in search results)
- Specifying a crawl delay to prevent your servers from being overloaded
If there are no areas you want to block robots from crawling, then you may not need a robots.txt file at all.
Not sure if you even have a robots.txt file? To check, simply type in your website, then add a /robots.txt to the end of the URL. For example, ours would be www.moosemay/robots.txt
For more information about robots.txt and specific directives check out Google’s handy guide.
This is another file on your website that helps search engines crawl your website more intelligently. Sitemaps give crawlers hints about each page of your website that is available for crawling. The file includes important information about each URL — things like when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and more. Think of it as a cheat sheet for search engines to know more about your website’s structure. For more info check out this more extensive guide on sitemaps.xml.
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