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How to Hide From Robots

A "robot" is a program that search engines use to follow links, read web pages, and create indexes of the information they find on the web pages. Also referred to as a "spider" or "crawler", many people think a robot travels around the web. A robot travels the web the same way your browser surfs the web, never leaving the machine it is running on.

There are several reasons why you might want to prevent robots from indexing your web page.

1.You may store administrative information on your web host for backup purposes.
2.You can password protect files without getting involved with the servers authentication mechanisms.
3.You can prevent users from running scripts arbitrarily.
4.You can reduce the bandwidth consumption of your web site.

One way to exclude robots is to place a text file named robots.txt at the root of your web site. In the file, list the robots that you want to exclude, and the files or folders that you want to exclude.

Since it is difficult to know the identities of the robots, you probably want to exclude all robots. The first line of your robots.txt file should be:

User-Agent: *

Below that list the files or folders that you want to exclude. Below is an example of the contents of a robots.txt file that excludes all robots from a folder named "backup" and a folder named "cgi-bin".

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /backup/
Disallow: /cgi-bin/

If you need to exclude many files on a file-by-file basis, you may find a robots.txt file too difficult to maintain. In that case, you may prefer to use meta tag exclusion. A meta tag is an html tag that you place in the HEAD section of your web page. Below is a meta tag that instructs robots to not index the web page.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

If you want robots to index the page, but not to follow links on the page, us the meta tag shown below.

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">

The meta tag shown below instructs robots to not index and not follow links on the page.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, no follow">

The methods described above allow you control how robots index your web site. Preventing robots from indexing a web page hides it from visitors to your web site. This assumes that you have configured your web site to not allow visitors to "list" the files on your web site. Of course even without the ability to list, a visitor can still access a file if they can guess the name of the file.

More Web Design Coding Issues:
• Creating a Secure Website Using Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
• How to Hide From Robots
• Don't Let doors.txt Take Control of Your Email Server
• Basic Dynamic Website Security
• What is a Web Service?
• Advantages and Disadvantages of Frames
• Video - HTTP caching
• Web Design Troubleshooting Guide
• How to Strengthen Website Authentication
• Understanding SSL Certificate

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