Customizing Your robots.txt File: A Comprehensive Guide for Shopify Stores

Customizing Your robots.txt File: A Comprehensive Guide for Shopify Stores

Search engines, such as Google, constantly crawl the internet in search of new data as a source for their search results. The robots.txt file tells search engine bots, known as crawlers, which pages to request to view from your online store.

All Shopify stores have a default robots.txt file that's optimized for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Previously, editing this file wasn’t possible, but now that’s changed!

Why the Change?

With a recent update, it’s now possible to customize your robots.txt from the optimized version that is being used currently in your shop. Customizing this file allows you to

  • Allow, or disallow certain URLs from being crawled
  • Add crawl-delay rules
  • Add extra sitemap URLs
  • Block certain crawlers

The Potential Risks

While the ability to edit your robots.txt file offers more control, it also comes with risks. Incorrectly applied edits can significantly impact your traffic. Improper settings can prevent search engines from indexing important parts of your site, potentially resulting in reduced visibility and fewer visitors. Here’s a general rule of thumb: Only make changes if you are confident in what you are doing.

Detailed Guide to Customizing robots.txt

Step 1: Backup Your Current robots.txt

Before making any changes, it’s essential to keep a backup of the current file. This ensures that you can revert back to the original state if anything goes wrong.

Step 2: Accessing robots.txt.liquid File

To access the robots.txt.liquid file:

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Themes.
  2. In the Current theme section, click Actions > Edit Code.
  3. In the Layouts directory, click Add a new layout.
  4. Name the layout robots.txt.liquid and click Create layout.

Step 3: Customizing the File

Here are some common customizations you might consider:

Allow or Disallow URLs

To allow or disallow certain URLs from being crawled, use the following syntax:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /path-to-page/
Allow: /path-to-other-page/

Adding Crawl-Delay Rules

Some crawlers allow you to set a crawl-delay to prevent them from overloading your server:

User-agent: *
Crawl-delay: 10

Adding Extra Sitemap URLs

If you have multiple sitemaps, you can add them here:

Sitemap: https://yourstore.com/sitemap1.xml
Sitemap: https://yourstore.com/sitemap2.xml

Blocking Certain Crawlers

To block specific crawlers, use their user-agent name:

User-agent: BadBot
Disallow: /

Step 4: Save Your Changes

Once you have made the necessary changes, ensure to save the file. Always double-check your syntax to avoid errors.

Step 5: Test Your Configuration

Use tools like Google Search Console to test your robots.txt file and ensure it’s working as intended. Regular testing can prevent potential issues down the road.

Restoring Default Configuration

If you encounter issues after modifying robots.txt, restoring the default robots.txt configuration is possible. For guidance on how to do this, please review: Delete robots.txt.liquid customizations.

Seeking Expert Help

If you require assistance, consider hiring a Shopify Expert as Shopify Support cannot help with the edits you would like to make, nor provide feedback before implementing changes.

Supporting Content

Frequently Asked Questions

What is robots.txt?

The robots.txt file is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl pages on their website.

Why is it risky to edit robots.txt?

Editing robots.txt is risky as incorrect settings can block search engines from indexing important pages, potentially harming your site's visibility and traffic.

Can Shopify support help with robots.txt customizations?

No, Shopify Support does not assist with customizing the robots.txt file. It is recommended to hire a Shopify Expert for this task.

Conclusion

Editing your robots.txt file can offer significant control over how search engines interact with your Shopify store. However, this power comes with responsibility. Incorrect changes can severely impact your website’s traffic and visibility. Always proceed with caution or seek professional assistance when in doubt.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out in the Shopify Community or hire a Shopify Expert. Stay tuned for more updates and happy customizing!


Trevor | Community Moderator @ Shopify

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