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The implementation of a suitable robots.txt file is very important for search engine optimization. There is plenty of advice around the Internet for the creation of such files (if you are looking for an introduction on this topic read “Creat a robots.txt file“), but what if instead of looking at what people say we could look at what people do?

That is what I did, collecting the robots.txt files from a wide range of blogs and websites. Below you will find them.

Key Takeaways

  • Only 2 out of 30 websites that I checked were not using a robots.txt file
  • Even if you don’t have any specific requirements for the search bots, therefore, you probably should use a simple robots.txt file
  • Most people stick to the “User-agent: *” attribute to cover all agents
  • The most common “Disallowed” factor is the RSS Feed
  • Google itself is using a combination of closed folders (e.g., /searchhistory/) and open ones (e.g., /search), which probably means they are treated differently
  • A minority of the sites included the sitemap URL on the robots.txt file

The Minimalistic Guys

Problogger.net

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Marketing Pilgrim

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Search Engine Journal

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Matt Cutts

User-agent: *
Allow:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /files/

Pronet Advertising

User-agent: *
Disallow: /mt
Disallow: /*.cgi$

TechCrunch

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*/feed/
Disallow: /*/trackback/

The Structured Ones

Online Marketing Blog

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: */feed/

User-agent: *
Disallow: /Blogger/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /stats/
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /2005x/

Shoemoney

User-Agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /link.php
Disallow: /gallery2
Disallow: /gallery2/
Disallow: /category/
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: /pages/
Disallow: /feed/
Disallow: /feed

Scoreboard Media

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /category/
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: */feed/
Disallow: /2007/
Disallow: /2006/
Disallow: /wp-*

SEOMoz.org

User-agent: *
Disallow: /blogdetail.php?ID=537
Disallow: /blog?page
Disallow: /blog/author/
Disallow: /blog/category/
Disallow: /tracker
Disallow: /ugc?page
Disallow: /ugc/author/
Disallow: /ugc/category/

Wolf-Howl

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /images/
Disallow: /noindex/
Disallow: /privacy-policy/
Disallow: /about/
Disallow: /company-biographies/
Disallow: /press-media-room/
Disallow: /newsletter/
Disallow: /contact-us/
Disallow: /terms-of-service/
Disallow: /terms-of-service/
Disallow: /information/comment-policy/
Disallow: /faq/
Disallow: /contact-form/
Disallow: /advertising/
Disallow: /information/licensing-information/
Disallow: /2005/
Disallow: /2006/
Disallow: /2007/
Disallow: /2008/
Disallow: /2009/
Disallow: /2004/
Disallow: /*?*
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: /iframes/

John Chow

sitemap: http://www.johnchow.com/sitemap.xml

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /go/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /author/
Disallow: /page/
Disallow: /category/
Disallow: /wp-images/
Disallow: /images/
Disallow: /backup/
Disallow: /banners/
Disallow: /archives/
Disallow: /trackback/
Disallow: /feed/

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
Allow: /

User-agent: duggmirror
Disallow: /

Smashing Magazine

Sitemap: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/sitemap.xml

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Disallow:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /styles/
Disallow: /inc/
Disallow: /tag/
Disallow: /cc/
Disallow: /category/

User-agent: MSIECrawler
Disallow: /

User-agent: psbot
Disallow: /

User-agent: Fasterfox
Disallow: /

User-agent: Slurp
Crawl-delay: 200

Gizmodo

User-Agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /index.xml$
Disallow: /excerpts.xml$
Allow: /sitemap.xml$
Disallow: /*view=rss$
Disallow: /*?view=rss$
Disallow: /*format=rss$
Disallow: /*?format=rss$
Sitemap: http://gizmodo.com/sitemap.xml

Lifehacker

User-Agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /index.xml$
Disallow: /excerpts.xml$
Allow: /sitemap.xml$
Disallow: /*view=rss$
Disallow: /*?view=rss$
Disallow: /*format=rss$
Disallow: /*?format=rss$
Sitemap: http://lifehacker.com/sitemap.xml

The Mainstream Media

Wall Street Journal

User-agent: *
Disallow: /article_email/
Disallow: /article_print/
Disallow: /PA2VJBNA4R/
Sitemap: http://online.wsj.com/sitemap.xml

ZDNet

User-agent: *
Disallow: /Ads/
Disallow: /redir/
# Disallow: /i/ is removed per 190723
Disallow: /av/
Disallow: /css/
Disallow: /error/
Disallow: /clear/
Disallow: /mac-ad
Disallow: /adlog/
# URS per bug 239819, these were expanded
Disallow: /1300-
Disallow: /1301-
Disallow: /1302-
Disallow: /1303-
Disallow: /1304-
Disallow: /1305-
Disallow: /1306-
Disallow: /1307-
Disallow: /1308-
Disallow: /1309-
Disallow: /1310-
Disallow: /1311-
Disallow: /1312-
Disallow: /1313-
Disallow: /1314-
Disallow: /1315-
Disallow: /1316-
Disallow: /1317-

NY Times

# robots.txt, www.nytimes.com 6/29/2006
#
User-agent: *
Disallow: /pages/college/
Disallow: /college/
Disallow: /library/
Disallow: /learning/
Disallow: /aponline/
Disallow: /reuters/
Disallow: /cnet/
Disallow: /partners/
Disallow: /archives/
Disallow: /indexes/
Disallow: /thestreet/
Disallow: /nytimes-partners/
Disallow: /financialtimes/
Allow: /pages/
Allow: /2003/
Allow: /2004/
Allow: /2005/
Allow: /top/
Allow: /ref/
Allow: /services/xml/

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Disallow:

YouTube

# robots.txt file for YouTube

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Disallow:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /profile
Disallow: /results
Disallow: /browse
Disallow: /t/terms
Disallow: /t/privacy
Disallow: /login
Disallow: /watch_ajax
Disallow: /watch_queue_ajax

Bonus

Google

User-agent: *
Allow: /searchhistory/
Disallow: /news?output=xhtml&
Allow: /news?output=xhtml
Disallow: /search
Disallow: /groups
Disallow: /images
Disallow: /catalogs
Disallow: /catalogues
Disallow: /news
Disallow: /nwshp
Disallow: /?
Disallow: /addurl/image?
Disallow: /pagead/
Disallow: /relpage/
Disallow: /relcontent
Disallow: /sorry/
Disallow: /imgres
Disallow: /keyword/
Disallow: /u/
Disallow: /univ/
Disallow: /cobrand
Disallow: /custom
Disallow: /advanced_group_search
Disallow: /advanced_search
Disallow: /googlesite
Disallow: /preferences
Disallow: /setprefs
Disallow: /swr
Disallow: /url
Disallow: /default
Disallow: /m?
Disallow: /m/search?
Disallow: /wml?
Disallow: /wml/search?
Disallow: /xhtml?
Disallow: /xhtml/search?
Disallow: /xml?
Disallow: /imode?
Disallow: /imode/search?
Disallow: /jsky?
Disallow: /jsky/search?
Disallow: /pda?
Disallow: /pda/search?


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About the author 

Daniel

Daniel Scocco is a programmer and entrepreneur located in São Paulo, Brazil. His first company, Online Profits, builds and manages websites in different niches. His second company, Kubic, specializes in developing mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms.

  1. hi…nice to see this…but can anyone tell me…whatis the function of these lines in robots.txt…
    “User-Agent: Googlebot
    Disallow: /index.xml$
    Disallow: /excerpts.xml$”
    i have seen these lines used gizmodo and other bloggers..
    should these 2 lines help in removing duplicate content??
    pls i want the answer..
    thanks

  2. Should the /wp-content folder be included as well…where all the themes and plugins reside? I’ve not noticed it listed on any robot.txt file anywhere..

    Thanks.

  3. Hello…!

    Can anyone tell me the list of websites which archives the websites. Pandora, Internet archive’s Waybackmachine are the some of the examples, I want to know the entire web archiving websites, please…..

  4. The real benefit to learning about the robots.txt file and how it works is it teaches you to think like the web crawlers. Especially when you start targeting different user-agents/bots…

    webmasterworld is definately the coolest, and 2nd is of course askapache.com

  5. The effect upon individual ranking of your pages should not be huge, so do not expect to go from the tenth page to the first page of Google just because of using a robots.txt file.

    That said, your search engine traffic will probably increase a lot if many of your pages were in the supplemental hell. First and foremost because now you will be cover many more keywords and terms.

  6. Hmm. I haven’t thought yet to update my robot.txt
    Its as simple as problogger.net no complications 😉
    I actually avoided that part coz I am not that much aware of robot.txt file changes and its effects!
    Soon will give some time for that.
    Thanks for the advice anyway.

  7. Hmm. I have not thinked yest to update my robot.txt
    Its as simple as problogger.net no complications 😉
    I actually avoided that part coz I am not that much aware of robot.txt file changes and its effects!
    Soon will give some time for that.
    Thanks for the advice anyway.

  8. I recently set up a robots.txt file and have noticed that my supplemental links on Google have gone down from around 2000 pages to about 250.

    I’m thinking that’s pretty good, but like others have said, I’m not quite sure how much of a difference it makes to my site rankings.

    Will this give more search engine traffic going forward or increase the chances of a better Pagerank?

  9. >Wow, I’m surprised that so many SEO experts don’t include a line for sitemap autodiscovery. It’s not like it’s difficult to implement or anything…

    If you have a Google sitemap plugin for WordPress it pingfs google every time you post anyway.

    And:

    The robots.txt for webmasterworld.com has a blog in it. Fun.

  10. I am also tweaking my robots.txt to remove duplicate content in WordPress. It was very insightful to see how top sites are dealing with the issue.

  11. I have been tweaking my robots.txt file for quite some time now mostly to reduce duplicate content (get pages out of supplemental hell)but haven’t noticed any appreciable difference.

    I have been checking a few A-bloggers blogs for their robots.txt files so thanks for doing this.

    BTW why does Shoemoney disallow some directories with and without the forward slash? What is the difference?

  12. Adnan, I will need to tweak mine as well. So far I am getting pretty good results with a minimalistic one though, just exclusing feeds, trackbacks and WP files.

  13. Hey Daniel – thanks for that compilation – its very interesting to see how some SEO sites like SearchEngineJournal were minimal, but how SEOMoz has something different.
    Now I need to decide on which one to choose 😉

  14. Very interesting post. I actually started using something similar to Chow’s after he published it on his blog last week. It seems to be adding a bit of Google traffic.

  15. Nia, sorry for that I just updated the article with a link to an introductory post I wrote sometime ago:

  16. This looks valuable except I don’t know how to use it yet. I’ve put it in my RSS shares and when I figure it out I’ll implement the lesson and post about it. Thanks. 😉

  17. Stephen, I don’t think the “autodiscovery” factor is related to how easy it is to implement.

    The question is: will it bring tangible improvements?

  18. Wow, I’m surprised that so many SEO experts don’t include a line for sitemap autodiscovery. It’s not like it’s difficult to implement or anything…

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