Google’s Recent Robots.txt Report Ignites Discussion Among Web and SEO Experts

by | Nov 17, 2023

Google recently announced the launch of a new robots.txt report in Google Search Console, replacing the widely used robots.txt tester tool. This unexpected move has sparked a debate among webmasters and SEO professionals who heavily relied on the old tool for testing and troubleshooting their robots.txt files.

The robots.txt report, accessible through the settings link in the Search Console profile, provides valuable insights into website crawling and indexing. One of its standout features is the ability to display detailed information about the robots.txt file for a specific site, making it easier for users to identify critical errors or warnings.

Furthermore, the report offers information on when the robots.txt files were last crawled, ensuring that website owners are up-to-date with the latest changes. This information is crucial for maintaining control over search engine crawling and indexing activities.

Additionally, the robots.txt report integrates relevant data from the Page indexing report, giving webmasters a comprehensive overview of their site’s indexing status. This integration allows for a more holistic understanding of how search engines interact with a website’s robots.txt directives.

A notable feature of the robots.txt report is its focus on the top 20 hosts on a site, enabling webmasters to pinpoint any specific issues with these hosts and take necessary actions to resolve them. The report also showcases the robots.txt files that Google found for each of these hosts, allowing for a more in-depth analysis of crawling behavior.

However, the removal of the robots.txt tester tool has not been well-received by everyone. Renowned SEO expert Glenn Gabe expressed disappointment, highlighting the simplicity and ease of use of the retired tool. Many users have echoed his sentiments in various forums, expressing concerns about the learning curve associated with the new report and the potential loss of functionality.

To address these concerns, Google has made the robots.txt report easily accessible through a link in the Search Console settings. Additionally, the report allows users to request a recrawl of the robots.txt file, ensuring that any changes or updates are promptly reflected in search engine activity.

In contrast, Bing, Google’s major search engine competitor, continues to offer its own robots.txt tester tool. Bing’s tool not only provides a way to test robots.txt files but also displays the last time the files were crawled. This continued availability has added fuel to the discussion, with some users expressing a preference for Bing’s approach.

Despite the removal of the robots.txt tester tool, it is important to note that Google’s new robots.txt report offers a more comprehensive analysis of a website’s robots.txt directives. By integrating it with other valuable data in the Search Console, Google aims to provide webmasters with a more robust toolset for managing their website’s crawling and indexing.

As the debate continues in various forums and communities, it is evident that webmasters and SEO professionals have differing opinions. While some embrace the new robots.txt report and its integrated features, others long for the simplicity of the retired tester tool.

Only time will tell how Google’s decision will ultimately impact the SEO community. In the meantime, webmasters are encouraged to explore the new robots.txt report and familiarize themselves with its functionalities to ensure their websites are properly optimized.

In conclusion, Google’s introduction of the new robots.txt report within Google Search Console has sparked a discussion among webmasters and SEO professionals. While the report offers insights into crawling and indexing, concerns remain about the loss of the simpler and more user-friendly robots.txt tester tool. As the SEO community adapts to this change, it is crucial for webmasters to embrace the new report’s capabilities and continue optimizing their websites for search engine performance.