A server-side mechanism to control how search engines index content, applicable for non-HTML files.


X-robots-tag is an HTTP header used to control how search engines crawl and index content on a website. Unlike the robots meta tag which is used within HTML documents, the X-robots-tag can be applied to any file type, including PDFs, images, and other non-HTML files. It allows webmasters to specify directives to search engine crawlers, such as whether to index a document, follow links within it, or archive its content.

Usage and Context

Webmasters use the X-robots-tag to manage the visibility of their website's content on search engines for files that cannot include meta tags. It's especially useful for multimedia files or dynamic content generated through scripts where traditional tags cannot be embedded. By setting this tag in the HTTP header, it instructs search engine bots on how to treat the content even before the file is downloaded.
Common directives include "noindex" to prevent indexing and "nofollow" to prevent the crawler from following links in the document.


  1. What is the difference between X-robots-tag and robots meta tag?

    • The X-robots-tag is an HTTP header for all file types, while the robots meta tag is an HTML element used specifically within HTML documents.
  2. How do I add an X-robots-tag to my website’s files?

    • An X-robots-tag is added through the website’s server configuration or through .htaccess (for Apache servers), depending on the server type and specific requirements.
  3. Can I use X-robots-tag for HTML files as well?

    • Yes, X-robots-tag can be used for HTML files, offering a server-side alternative to the meta robots tag.
  4. Is it possible to use multiple directives in a single X-robots-tag?

    • Yes, you can use multiple directives in a single X-robots-tag, separated by commas, such as "noindex, nofollow".
  5. Do all search engines obey the X-robots-tag?

    • Most major search engines, including Google and Bing, respect the X-robots-tag, but adherence may vary among smaller or less popular search bots.


Including an X-robots-tag offers precise control over how search engines interact with various file types on your site, contributing to more effective SEO management and content privacy.


The X-robots-tag is an essential tool for webmasters and SEO professionals to manage how search engines crawl and index their site's content, especially non-HTML files. It provides flexibility and control over the visibility of diverse content types on the internet, playing a crucial role in a website's SEO strategy.

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