When you use a staging website for developing or testing purposes you might be confronted with the question of what is the best way to protect your staging site from being indexed by Google.
Since the first release of WP Staging the staging site is protected by a custom authentication login prompt. We have always believed this is the only reliable solution to prevent Google from accessing the staging site.
If it is not accessable there is no risk that Google can index the staging site content at all. This is very important because any duplicate content can lead to a loose of rankings in the search engine as a final consequence.
There are additional technics like setting up the header meta tag to noindex – which is something WP Staging also does – and to prevent accessing the staging site by adding an entry in the robots.txt. Unfortunately, none of these options are reliable enough and a small error in your configuration can lead to an open accessible staging website which would be a bad thing for your search engine results.
We are glad that John Müller – Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google – recently answered this question and confirmed that server authentication is the best way to do this:
“Ideally, what you would want to do is provide some kind of server-side authentication on the server so that normal users when they go there they would get blocked from being able to see the content; that would include GoogleBot.
And you can do that on an IP address basis, you can do it with a cookie, you can do it with normal authentication on the server.
Anything where you have to prove that you’re the right person and you can actually look at that content.
I think that’s generally the best approach for staging servers…”
Watch John Müller’s answer here:
You can read more about this topic here: