How to write and submit a robots.txt file
You can control which files crawlers may access on your site with a robots.txt file.
A robots.txt file lives at the root of your site. So, for site
the robots.txt file lives at
www.example.com/robots.txt. robots.txt is a plain
text file that follows the
Robots Exclusion Standard.
A robots.txt file consists of one or more rules. Each rule blocks or allows access for all or
a specific crawler to a specified file path on the domain or subdomain where the robots.txt
file is hosted. Unless you specify otherwise in your robots.txt file, all files are implicitly
allowed for crawling.
Here is a simple robots.txt file with two rules:
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /nogooglebot/ User-agent: * Allow: / Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml
Here's what that robots.txt file means:
The user agent named Googlebot is not allowed to crawl any URL that starts with
- All other user agents are allowed to crawl the entire site. This could have been omitted and the result would be the same; the default behavior is that user agents are allowed to crawl the entire site.
The site's sitemap file is located at
See the syntax section for more examples.
Basic guidelines for creating a robots.txt file
Creating a robots.txt file and making it generally accessible and useful involves four steps:
- Create a file named robots.txt.
- Add rules to the robots.txt file.
- Upload the robots.txt file to the root of your site.
- Test the robots.txt file.
Create a robots.txt file
You can use almost any text editor to create a robots.txt file. For example, Notepad, TextEdit, vi, and emacs can create valid robots.txt files. Don't use a word processor; word processors often save files in a proprietary format and can add unexpected characters, such as curly quotes, which can cause problems for crawlers. Make sure to save the file with UTF-8 encoding if prompted during the save file dialog.
Format and location rules:
- The file must be named robots.txt.
- Your site can have only one robots.txt file.
The robots.txt file must be located at the root of the website host to
which it applies. For instance, to control crawling on all URLs below
https://www.example.com/, the robots.txt file must be located at
https://www.example.com/robots.txt. It cannot be placed in a subdirectory (for example, at
https://example.com/pages/robots.txt). If you're unsure about how to access your website root, or need permissions to do so, contact your web hosting service provider. If you can't access your website root, use an alternative blocking method such as
A robots.txt file can be posted on a subdomain (for example,
https://website.example.com/robots.txt) or on non-standard ports (for example,
- A robots.txt file applies only to paths within the protocol, host, and port where it is
posted. That is, rules in
https://example.com/robots.txtapply only to files in
https://example.com/, not to subdomains such as
https://m.example.com/, or alternate protocols, such as
- A robots.txt file must be an UTF-8 encoded text file (which includes ASCII). Google may ignore characters that are not part of the UTF-8 range, potentially rendering robots.txt rules invalid.
How to write robots.txt rules
Rules are instructions for crawlers about which parts of your site they can crawl. Follow these guidelines when adding rules to your robots.txt file:
- A robots.txt file consists of one or more groups (set of rules).
Each group consists of multiple rules (also known as directives), one rule per line. Each
group begins with a
User-agentline that specifies the target of the groups.
- A group gives the following information:
- Who the group applies to (the user agent).
- Which directories or files that agent can access.
- Which directories or files that agent cannot access.
- Crawlers process groups from top to bottom. A user agent can match only one rule set, which is the first, most specific group that matches a given user agent. If there are multiple groups for the same user agent, the groups will be combined into a single group before processing.
The default assumption is that a user agent can crawl any page or directory not blocked by a
Rules are case-sensitive. For instance,
disallow: /file.aspapplies to
https://www.example.com/file.asp, but not
#character marks the beginning of a comment. Comments are ignored during processing.
Google's crawlers support the following rules in robots.txt files:
user-agent:[Required, one or more per group] The rule specifies the name of the automatic client known as search engine crawler that the rule applies to. This is the first line for any rule group. Google user agent names are listed in the Google list of user agents. Using an asterisk (
*) matches all crawlers except the various AdsBot crawlers, which must be named explicitly. For example:
# Example 1: Block only Googlebot User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: / # Example 2: Block Googlebot and Adsbot User-agent: Googlebot User-agent: AdsBot-Google Disallow: / # Example 3: Block all crawlers except AdsBot (AdsBot crawlers must be named explicitly) User-agent: * Disallow: /
disallow:[At least one or more
allowentries per rule] A directory or page, relative to the root domain, that you don't want the user agent to crawl. If the rule refers to a page, it must be the full page name as shown in the browser. It must start with a
/character and if it refers to a directory, it must end with the
allow:[At least one or more
allowentries per rule] A directory or page, relative to the root domain, that may be crawled by the user agent just mentioned. This is used to override a
disallowrule to allow crawling of a subdirectory or page in a disallowed directory. For a single page, specify the full page name as shown in the browser. It must start with a
/character and if it refers to a directory, it must end with the
sitemap:[Optional, zero or more per file] The location of a sitemap for this website. The sitemap URL must be a fully-qualified URL; Google doesn't assume or check http/https/www.non-www alternates. Sitemaps are a good way to indicate which content Google should crawl, as opposed to which content it can or cannot crawl. Learn more about sitemaps. Example:
Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap.xml Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml
All rules, except
sitemap, support the
* wildcard for a path
prefix, suffix, or entire string.
Lines that don't match any of these rules are ignored.
Read our page about Google's interpretation of the robots.txt specification for the complete description of each rule.
Upload the robots.txt file
Once you saved your robots.txt file to your computer, you're ready to make it available to search engine crawlers. There's no one tool that can help you with this, because how you upload the robots.txt file to your site depends on your site and server architecture. Get in touch with your hosting company or search the documentation of your hosting company; for example, search for "upload files infomaniak".
After you upload the robots.txt file, test whether it's publicly accessible and if Google can parse it.
Test robots.txt markup
To test whether your newly uploaded robots.txt file is publicly accessible, open a
private browsing window
(or equivalent) in your browser and navigate to the location of the robots.txt file. For
https://example.com/robots.txt. If you see the contents of your
robots.txt file, you're ready to test the markup.
Google offers two options for testing robots.txt markup:
- The robots.txt Tester in Search Console. You can only use this tool for robots.txt files that are already accessible on your site.
- If you're a developer, check out and build Google's open source robots.txt library, which is also used in Google Search. You can use this tool to test robots.txt files locally on your computer.
Submit robots.txt file to Google
Once you uploaded and tested your robots.txt file, Google's crawlers will automatically find and start using your robots.txt file. You don't have to do anything. If you updated your robots.txt file and you need to refresh Google's cached copy as soon as possible, learn how to submit an updated robots.txt file.
Useful robots.txt rules
Here are some common useful robots.txt rules:
|Disallow crawling of the entire website||
Keep in mind that in some situations URLs from the website may still be indexed, even if they haven't been crawled.
User-agent: * Disallow: /
|Disallow crawling of a directory and its contents||
Append a forward slash to the directory name to disallow crawling of a whole directory.
User-agent: * Disallow: /calendar/ Disallow: /junk/ Disallow: /books/fiction/contemporary/
|Allow access to a single crawler||
User-agent: Googlebot-news Allow: / User-agent: * Disallow: /
|Allow access to all but a single crawler||
User-agent: Unnecessarybot Disallow: / User-agent: * Allow: /
Disallow crawling of a single web page
For example, disallow the
User-agent: * Disallow: /useless_file.html Disallow: /junk/other_useless_file.html
Disallow crawling of the whole site except a subdirectory
Crawlers may only access the
User-agent: * Disallow: / Allow: /public/
Block a specific image from Google Images
For example, disallow the
User-agent: Googlebot-Image Disallow: /images/dogs.jpg
Block all images on your site from Google Images
Google can't index images and videos without crawling them.
User-agent: Googlebot-Image Disallow: /
Disallow crawling of files of a specific file type
For example, disallow for crawling all
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /*.gif$
Disallow crawling of an entire site, but allow
This implementation hides your pages from search results, but the
User-agent: * Disallow: / User-agent: Mediapartners-Google Allow: /
For example, disallow all
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /*.xls$