Should Google Not Index Robots.txt Files in Search Results?

May 15, 2008 - 8:02 am 4 by

An interesting discussion is taking place at WebmasterWorld on the topic of the robots.txt file. One webmaster did not want his robots.txt file to be indexed by Google, but has no way of delisting in in Google.

The only ways of removing content is Google includes:

  • Via meta tags
  • Via robots.txt command
  • Return a 404 server status
  • Use the Remove URLs feature in Webmaster Tools
  • Password protect the page
  • Some more ideas on how to remove content in Google can be found there.

But if you implement any of those, Google will likely remove your robots.txt, and it won't follow the rules you have implemented in that file. Which can be very upsetting for webmasters. So if you block you block your robots.txt file in your robots.txt file, does Google really see the robots.txt file to block it? (Okay, that was a bit of a joke, but it makes the point).

That brings up the question, should Google list robots.txt files in the search results? In most cases, they do not contain any useful content for searchers. Well, with the exception of Brett Tabke's robots.txt blog, which is a hilarious idea. But outside of that, how is it useful?

As Tedster notes, Google has indexed plenty robots.txt files, should they?

Let me ask you, here is a poll. Should Google display robots.txt files in the search results (even for searches like [inurl:robots.txt filetype.txt])?

There is an "other" option, but try not to use it. :)

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: Google's JohnMu commented below explaining how to block your robots.txt file from showing up. News to me, this is excellent news:

Hi guys, there are two ways to block your robots.txt from showing up in search results:

- disallow it in your robots.txt (don't worry, we'll still check it); you can then use the Webmaster Tools URL removal tool to have it taken out of the index if it's indexed.

- use the x-robots-tag HTTP header tag with "noindex"

On the other hand, robots.txt URLs generally would not show up in any search results where you have more relevant pages within your site, so this is probably not something you'd want to spend all too much effort on :-).


Popular Categories

The Pulse of the search community


Search Video Recaps

Google Weekend Volatility, Google On Search Leak, Elizabeth Tucker Interview & Apple Intelligence - YouTube
Video Details More Videos Subscribe to Videos

Most Recent Articles

Search Forum Recap

Daily Search Forum Recap: June 14, 2024

Jun 14, 2024 - 10:00 am
Search Video Recaps

Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Weekend Volatility, Google On Search Leak, Elizabeth Tucker Interview, Apple Intelligence & More

Jun 14, 2024 - 8:01 am

Google Tests Multiple Featured Snippets Under From Sources Across The Web

Jun 14, 2024 - 7:51 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google: Sometimes Search Experiments Conflict Causing Issues

Jun 14, 2024 - 7:41 am
Google Maps

Google Business Profiles Websites No Longer Load - 404

Jun 14, 2024 - 7:31 am
Google Ads

Google Tests New Call & Location Extension Ad Format

Jun 14, 2024 - 7:21 am
Previous Story: Of Course Google Indexes Content About Vodka & Hard Liquor