How to Keep Your Staging or Development Site out of the Search Index

How to Keep Your Staging or Development Site out of the Search Index

What is Indexing in SEO?

Indexing in SEO means search engines getting or collecting webpages and adding them into its database.

Why is Indexing Important?

Indexing is the most important factor to get the ranking of a website for the user’s search query in search engines. A website cannot get ranked unless crawlers have indexed it. Why is it Important to Keep Your Staging or Development Site out of the Search Index?
It is essential that you keep search engines from indexing of staging or development sites. Otherwise, you will find your site domain in search results. That will cause to duplicate content issues with search engines deciding your staging site as an authoritative site and will transfer traffic to your staging site rather than to the main site.

How to tell Search Engines not to Crawl Staging or Development Site?

Here are some options to stop search engines from indexing your testing and staging sites.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is one of best ways to stop indexing of staging or testing site. Robots.txt is a text file you can create to instruct search engine robots how to crawl and index the pages on your website.

In the robots.txt file, simply adds two lines: User-agent: * Disallow: /

.htaccess login

Requiring authentication for access of the site is the most effective way to keep out users and search engines. A .htaccess login will stop search engines from accessing and listing of your staging site in their search results.

Noindex tags

The noindex meta standard controls access to your site on a page-by-page basis. To keep your staging or development site out of the search index with noindex tags on the page one by one, place the following meta tag into the sections of your pages:

To prevent only Google web crawlers from indexing a page:

What If Some Pages Got Indexed by Search Engines?

The importance of the URL is the major factor for crawling and a low factor in the case of a staging site. So, it may take months to recrawl the URLs. If you want to block indexed pages with the above mentioned method, it will not be processed immediately.
In the case of Google, you may submit a removal request in Google Search Console and in the meanwhile, you may take corrective actions.

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