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The robots.txt file is an often overlooked and sometimes forgotten part of a website and SEO.
But nonetheless, a robots.txt file is an important part of any SEO’s toolset, whether or not you are just starting out in the industry or you are a chiseled SEO veteran.
A robots.txt file can be used for for a variety of things, from letting search engines know where to go to locate your sites sitemap to telling them which pages to crawl and not crawl as well as being a great tool for managing your sites crawl budget.
You might be asking yourself “wait a minute, what is crawl budget?” Well crawl budget is what what Google uses to effectively crawl and index your sites pages. As big a Google is, they still only have a limited number of resources available to be able to crawl and index your sites content.
If your site only has a few hundred URLs then Google should be able to easily crawl and index your site’s pages.
However, if your site is big, like an ecommerce site for example and you have thousands of pages with lots of auto-generated URLs, then Google might not crawl all of those pages and you will be missing on lots of potential traffic and visibility.
This is where the importance of prioritizing what, when and how much to crawl becomes important.
Google have stated that “having many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing.” This is where having a robots.txt file can help with the factors affecting your sites crawl budget.
You can use the file to help manage your sites crawl budget, by making sure that search engines are spending their time on your site as efficiently (especially if you have a large site) as possible and crawling only the important pages and not wasting time on pages such as login, signup or thank you pages.
Before a robot such as Googlebot, Bingbot, etc. crawls a webpage, it will first check to see if there is in fact a robots.txt file and, if one exists, they will usually follow and respect the directions found within that file.
A robots.txt file can be a powerful tool in any SEO’s arsenal as it’s a great way to control how search engine crawlers/bots access certain areas of your site. Keep in mind that you need to be sure you understand how the robots.txt file works or you will find yourself accidentally disallowing Googlebot or any other bot from crawling your entire site and not having it be found in the search results!
But when done properly you can control such things as:
Below are a few examples of how you can use the robots.txt file on your own site.
Allowing all web crawlers/robots access to all your sites content:
User-agent: * Disallow:
Blocking all web crawlers/bots from all your sites content:
User-agent: * Disallow: /
You can see how easy it is to make a mistake when creating your sites robots.txt as the difference from blocking your entire site from being seen is a simple forward slash in the disallow directive (Disallow: /).
Blocking a specific web crawlers/bots from a specific folder:
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /
Blocking a web crawlers/bots from a specific page on your site:
User-agent: Disallow: /thankyou.html
Exclude all robots from part of the server:
User-agent: * Disallow: /cgi-bin/ Disallow: /tmp/ Disallow: /junk/
The example file can be viewed here: www.theverge.com/robots.txt
You can see how The Verge use their robots.txt file to specifically call out Google’s news bot “Googlebot-News” to make sure that it doesn’t crawl those directories on the site.
It’s important to remember that if you want to make sure that a bot doesn’t crawl certain pages or directories on your site, that you call out those pages and or directories in the in “Disallow” declarations in your robots.txt file, like in the above examples.
You can review how Google handles the robots.txt file in their robots.txt specifications guide, Google has a current maximum file size limit for the robots.txt file, the maximum size for Google is set at 500KB, so it’s important to be mindful of the size of your sites robots.txt file.
Creating a robots.txt file for your site is a fairly simple process, but it’s also easy to make a mistake. Don’t let that discourage you from creating or modifying a robots file for your site. This article from Google walks you through the robots.txt file creation process and should help you get comfortable creating your very own robots.txt file.
Once you are comfortable with creating or modify your site’s robots file, Google has another great article that explains how to test your sites robots.txt file to see if it is setup correctly.
If you are new to the robots.txt file or are not sure if your site even has one, you can do a quick check to see. All you need to do to check is go to your sites root domain and then add /robots.txt to the end of the URL. Example: www.yoursite.com/robots.txt
If nothing shows up, then you do not have a robots.txt file for you site. Now would be the perfect time to jump in and test out creating one for your site.
If you have a subdomain or multiple subdomains on your site, then you you will need to have a robots.txt file on each subdomain as well as on the main root domain. This would look something like this store.yoursite.com/robots.txt and yoursite.com/robots.txt.
Like mentioned above in the “best practices section” it’s important to remember not to use the robots.txt file to prevent sensitive data, such as private user information from being crawled and appearing in the search results.
The reason for this, is that it’s possible that other pages might be linking to that information and if there’s a direct link back it will bypass the robots.txt rules and that content may still get indexed. If you need to block your pages from truly being indexed in the search results, use should use different method like adding password protection or by adding a noindex meta tag to those pages. Google can not login to a password protected site/page, so they will not be able to crawl or index those pages.
While you might be a little nervous if you have never worked on robots.txt file before, rest assured it is fairly simple to use and set up. Once you get comfortable with the ins and outs of the robots file, you’ll be able to enhance your site’s SEO as well as help your site’s visitors and search engine bots.
By setting up your robots.txt file the right way, you will be helping search engine bots spend their crawl budgets wisely and help ensure that they aren’t wasting their time and resources crawling pages that don’t need to be crawled. This will help them in organizing and displaying your sites content in the SERPs in the best way possible, which in turn means you’ll have more visibility.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily take a whole lot of time and effort to setup your robots.txt file. For the most part, it’s a one-time setup, that you can then make little tweaks and changes to help better sculpt your site.
I hope the practices, tips and suggestions described in this article will help give you the confidence to go out and create/tweak your sites robots.txt file and at the same time help guide you smoothly through the process.
Historically digital marketers are more concerned about attracting traffic to the site than boosting on-site conversions.
This is unfortunate because conversion optimization usually requires smaller investments and provides faster results than growing your traffic.
Here are eight ways to increase your ecommerce conversions quickly by providing better usability and smoother user experience.
The name of the game is convenience. Don’t make it difficult for the consumer to finish a purchase. The more barriers your site throws up, the more likely it is your customers will leave the cart without completing the purchase.
According to BigCommerce’s 2019 Omni-Channel Retail Report, convenience is among the top 3 reasons U.S. consumers across all generations chose to buy from an online store. When shopping online, millennials have become used to speed and convenience while younger generations have never known shopping without these.
You should have a simple checkout process because that’s what is expected from your site these days (and often the primary reason why they shop online anyway). For example, sites that force you to sign up before you can check out are frustrating, and many users are not willing to spend time creating an account. Remove the forced signup and provide an option to checkout out as “guest.”
Every section of your checkout process is another opportunity for the consumer to quit and walk away. Consider whether any given section is worth the chance of losing sales and if you can safely remove it. Or, if it can’t be removed, find a way to streamline the entire process. For example, include a duplicating button that allows users to make their delivery address their billing address, without entering the same information twice.
Create easy cart navigation and decrease the number of steps needed to complete the purchase. This will increase sales and profits as well as customer satisfaction.
Featured tool: Convert.com allows to easily A/B your site shopping experience to come up with the best solution for your customers. Additionally, for WordPress, here’s a detailed A/B testing tutorial.
According to ConversionXL, it is 25 times more expensive to develop new customers than it is to re-convert your current customers. You need to work to keep re-engaging your existing customers continually.
They are more valuable to you than a new visitor. Studies have shown that if you can increase your customer retention by 5%, you can increase your profits by up to 25%.
You can keep these consumers through a one-click upsell option. It convinces customers to complete an additional, unplanned-for transaction. It’s exactly how impulse shopping works in brick-and-mortar stores. They place enticing items by the register to convince you to add them to your purchase while you stand in line.
PayKickstart users have demonstrated powerful proof of concept: Many of them have seen both their average customer value and the total revenue more than double after they implemented one-click upsells:
Mobile shopping is continually growing. More people are using their mobile device or tablet to shop on ecommerce sites than ever before, and with the fast adoption of smartphones worldwide, the numbers will continue to go up.
Users are more likely to abandon a cart and navigate away from your site if it’s difficult to browse on a smartphone. You don’t always need to develop an expensive app, but you do need to make your website easy to read and use on a smartphone.
One powerful way to make your shopping experience mobile friendly without investing into a standalone app is to use web design platforms that support progressive web apps (PWAs) which act like native mobile apps but don’t need to be installed by your customers. According to Google, PWAs are “a new way to deliver amazing user experiences on the web.”
PWAs also support many app-like functionalities that most mobile-optimized websites do not, such as push notifications, which can be especially useful for omnichannel retailers.
Duda allows agency professionals to roll out progressive web app versions of their clients‘ sites with one click of a button:
Several studies found personalized experience is a growing ecommerce trend that shouldn’t be neglected:
With Amazon leading the digital marketing industry, most of US consumers already expect to receive personalized treatment whenever they shop online.
Alter helps you set-up personalized shopping experience without the need to invest into an in-house solution. It works as follows:
Some content management systems also provide for solid personalization options (which would be even easier to implement). For example, Duda allows you to personalize CTAs and special offers based on time of day, geolocation, number of visits and more:
Many of your customers discover your products through Google search. Are your landing pages doing a good-enough job matching their expectations?
Search intent optimization is often overlooked. Yet, it’s what often determines your users‘ on-page engagement. Whether they will instantly see what they expected to see determines whether they will want to stay and give your landing page a chance to convert them into buyers.
Text Optimizer is a great way to optimize your landing page copy to meet Google’s and its users‘ expectations. It uses semantic analysis to extract important concepts from Google’s search results. Use these terms when crafting your landing page copy to optimize it better and engage more of your site visitors:
Have you ever had a case of FOMO or fear of missing out? You’re not alone. The fear of missing out on something amazing or special or even extremely ordinary is a powerful psychological force that you can tap into.
Add a sense of urgency to your shopping cart page to develop FOMO in your costumer. This can give hesitant customers the extra push they need to complete the purchase.
Amazon uses FOMO extremely well by adding a countdown timer tied into your shipping. It tells you to buy the product in the next XX minutes to qualify for one-day shipping.
You can use this tactic by adding a timer to your cart page, or a countdown clock to the end of a sale (here’s how). You could even go simply by writing “checkout now” instead of only “checkout.”
Site navigation can be tricky. If you’ve never been on a particular website, you might struggle to find your way around after you move from the landing page.
This is especially troublesome for e-commerce sites. You need to implement clear site navigation for both SEO and usability.
Setting up breadcrumbs throughout your pages is a simple way to help your users feel confident at each step of their journey. Make it obvious where the consumer should go and what they should click next, and you are likely to see your conversions go up.
Conversion optimization may seem overwhelming. Luckily there are tools and solutions that can make it quite doable. Before investing in attracting more traffic to your site, try implementing the tips above to get the most of those visitors you already have.
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