Part of our SEO and WordPress design work usually includes helping clients get found by Google and other search engines. There are times, however, when pages need to be hidden from search. As your website grows and your marketing strategy adjusts, you may have some pages that don’t need Google’s attention. Hiding WordPress pages from Google helps you keep pages on your site without having them indexed. Search engines will add every site they can find to their index, giving it a quality score for the content on the page. In this article, I’ll outline four times when you would not want a page to appear in Google’s index and how to hide web pages using the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
Why Hide Pages from Google and Other Search Engines?
The needs of your website may vary, but sometimes pages need to be hidden from search engines. Here are a few examples from real-life web-design scenarios:
- Hide complimentary pages so they don’t compete with other pages on your site.
- Keep certain pages private. Not everyone needs to see the thank-you page from a form. Or you may have an event-specific page that people access via a direct link.
- When you have pages you mainly use for internal use, like sales presentations or internal communications.
- You might have duplicate pages with video content, printable pdf content, and written content. If you want people to only come in through the written content page, block the other two pages from search.
The Sales Funnel and the Googlebot
Some of this has to do with the path that you want your users to follow, and some has to do with the Googlebot. If you want your users directed through a series of pages before calling you on the phone (like in tech support or for vetting out sales leads) you don’t want their Google search to take them to the last page of your questionnaire. If you are having an invitation-only event at the Evansville Riverfront, you don’t want people to invite themselves from a Google search. We have several hidden pages on our site.
You also don’t want to confuse the Googlebot, which is constantly searching and ranking web pages. If you have two pages that are competing for 100% of the Googlebot’s attention, it might give each of them 50 points and your competitor’s single page 100 points. This is where hiding WordPress pages from Google can help your SEO. If you are competing with yourself, you might lose.
The Easy Way to Make WordPress Do This With Yoast SEO
Hiding WordPress pages from Google is easier than you might expect. The Yoast SEO Plugin has some built-in tools that can help you do this regardless of your technical expertise in WordPress. Installing the Yoast SEO Plugin will benefit your site’s SEO in a lot of ways without any further tweaks, but using these tools at the bottom will help you get to the next level.
At the bottom of every post and page in the WordPress editor, Yoast shows a box for that page’s settings. Click on the gear icon (the third one down) and you’ll see your robots options.
What does “Follow / NoFollow” mean?
- Follow: All of the links the bot finds on the page will be followed. The bot will use this information to create the context of your page as it relates to those other links.
- Nofollow: Even though there are links to this page, don’t follow them. This is like saying, “I link to these things for my users, but I don’t want the bot to associate me with these people.”
- Index: Asks Google to crawl it, show it, cache it, and show off this page!
- Noindex: Nothing to see here, Googlebot. Don’t keep a record of it or tell anyone about it.
Most of the time the default settings will be just what you need, so you won’t have to deal with this. But the more you use your site to be the best 24-hour salesperson on your team, the more this will come up. Hiding WordPress pages from Google will become increasingly important as your site grows. Landing pages from email campaigns, Facebook promotions, picture galleries, and more all fit into this category of pages you would want to hide from a Google search.