Robots.txt: Disallow All But A Select Few, Why Not?
I've been thinking a while about disallowing every crawler except Ask, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! from my site.
The reasoning behind this is that I've never seen any traffic being generated by any of the other web-crawlers out there.
My questions are:
- Is there any reason not to?
- Has anybody done this?
- Did you notice any negative effects?
Up till now I used the blacklist approach: if I do not like the crawler, I add them to the disallow list.
I'm no fan of blacklisting however as this is a never ending story: there are always more crawlers out there.
I'm no so much worried about the real ugly misbehaving crawlers, they are detected and blocked automatically. (and they typically do no ask for robots.txt anyhow :)
However, many crawlers are not really misbehaving in any way, they just do not seem to generate any value for me / my customers.
There are for example a couple of crawlers that power website who claim they will be The Next Google; Only Better. I've never seen any traffic coming from them and I'm quite sceptical about them becoming better than any of the four search engines mentioned above.
I've been analysing the traffic to several sites for some time now, and it seems that for reasonable small sites, 100 unique human visitors a day (=visitors that I cannot identify as being not human). About 52% of the generated traffic is by automated processes.
60% of all automated visitors is not reading robots.txt, 40% (21% of total traffic) does request robots.txt. (this includes Ask, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!)
So my thinking is, If I block all the well behaved crawlers that do not seem to generate any value for me, I could reduce the bandwidth use and server load by around 12% - 17%.
The internet is a publishing mechanism. If you want to whitelist your site, you're against the grain, but that's fine.
Do you want to whitelist your site?
Bear in mind that badly behaved bots which ignore robots.txt aren't affected anyway (obviously), and well behaved bots are probably there for a good reason, it's just that that's opaque to you.
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