Web Marketing All-in-One For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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In web marketing, it’s important to make sure your site is visible. Checking your robots.txt file and meta robots tags is a good place to start. Errors with these can make your site invisible to visitors.

Check your robots.txt file

Go to
www.yoursiteaddress.com/robots.txt
. You might get a
Page Not Found
error. That’s okay for your purposes: A no
robots.txt
file means you’re not placing any broad limits on what search engines can and can’t index on your site. You might also see something like this:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /blog.htm
This file is called the
robots.txt
file. It tells search engine crawlers, also known as robots, what to do when they visit your website. In this example, it’s telling all search engines to ignore the blog.htm page. All other pages are searchable.

If you want to become a

robots.txt
geek, visit the Web Robots Page. You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about guiding robots around your site.

What you don’t want to see in your

robots.txt
file is this:
Disallow: /
This line tells a visiting search engine crawler to ignore every page on your website. A developer may add this line when he is building the site to prevent search engines from crawling it while it’s under construction. If it is left there by accident, your site is invisible to search engines.

If your

robots.txt
file has any
Disallow
commands in it, check with your webmaster or developer to make sure that a reason exists.
Disallow
can be used to hide pages that change a lot, hide duplicate content, or keep search engines out of stuff you just don’t want them crawling. Just make sure that you’re not accidentally hiding content they should see.

Check for meta robots tags

Using the meta
robots
tag is another way to hide pages from search engines. Go to any page on your website and view the source code. You don’t want to see
If the meta
robots
tag is there, and it contains
noindex
,
nofollow
, or both, remove it. You have valid reasons to use this tag: You might want a search engine to ignore this page because it’s a duplicate; you might feel the information on the page is inappropriate for search results; or the developer might have hidden the page during development. If you don’t know the reason, delete the tag.

Do not trust your developer to remove the meta

robots
tag. When he builds your site, he’s working hard, writing code so fast that his fingers smoke. Forgetting to remove that one little line of code is easy when you’re facing a tough deadline and still have 4,000 lines of code to write. Remind your developer!

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John Arnold is the author of E-Mail Marketing For Dummies and coauthor of Mobile Marketing For Dummies.

Ian Lurie is President of Portent, Inc.

Marty Dickinson is President of HereNextYear.

Elizabeth Marsten is Director of Search Marketing at Portent, Inc.

Michael Becker is the Managing Director of North America at the Mobile Marketing Association.

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