How Can I Use the robots.txt File to Optimize the Crawling of a Multilingual Website With Language-Specific Directories or Subdomains?


The robots.txt file can be effectively used to manage and optimize the crawling of a multilingual website with language-specific directories or subdomains. By tailoring the robots.txt directives, you can control which parts of your site are accessible to search engine crawlers, ensuring efficient indexing and reducing server load.

Understanding robots.txt

The robots.txt file is a simple text file placed at the root of your website. It instructs web crawlers on which pages or sections of your site should or should not be crawled. You can specify rules using "User-agent" (to target specific crawlers) and "Disallow" (to restrict access to certain paths).

Structuring Your Multilingual Website

There are typically three ways to structure a multilingual website:

  • Language-specific directories (e.g.,,
  • Subdomains for each language (e.g.,,
  • Different domains for each language (less common and not typically managed via robots.txt).

Using robots.txt for Language-specific Directories

Allow Crawling for Specific Directories

To ensure that all language-specific directories are crawled by search engines, you can explicitly allow them:

User-agent: *
Allow: /en/
Allow: /fr/
Allow: /de/

In this example, we are allowing all user-agents to crawl the English, French, and German directories.

Disallowing Unnecessary Directories

If there are directories you don't want search engines to crawl (such as admin sections or staging content), you can disallow them:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /admin/
Disallow: /staging/

This prevents web crawlers from accessing these areas, optimizing the crawl budget for more important pages.

Using robots.txt for Subdomains

When using subdomains, each subdomain should have its own robots.txt file. Here’s an example structure for subdomains:

Example for English Subdomain

# robots.txt for
User-agent: *
Disallow: /private/

This example disallows crawlers from accessing the "private" directory on the English subdomain.

Example for French Subdomain

# robots.txt for
User-agent: *
Disallow: /prive/

This example disallows crawlers from accessing the "prive" directory on the French subdomain.

Ensuring Compliance and Testing

Robots.txt Validators

After updating your robots.txt file, it's important to validate its correctness. There are several tools available for this purpose:

Monitoring Coverage Reports

Use Search Console to monitor which pages are being crawled and indexed. Check the "Coverage" report to see if any important pages are blocked inadvertently. You can access this in the Google Search Console.

Best Practices

Be Specific with Directives

Ensure your robots.txt file has clear and specific directives to avoid inadvertent blocking.

Regular Audits

Periodically review and update your robots.txt. As your website evolves, so too should your robots.txt directives.


Optimizing the crawling of a multilingual website involves thoughtfully structuring your robots.txt file to ensure efficient and effective crawling by search engines. By understanding the structure of your website and applying specific directives, you can manage how search engines index your multilingual content.