As a website owner, you want people to find your home on the internet, and to pay attention to what they find. It might seem like common sense to allow a search engine to see all of your pages to boost visibility and ranking. That may not always be the best idea. WordPress search pages are an example of content you should hide from search engines.
Reasons to Block Search Engines from Finding Your Content
Responsiveness and speed carry high value on the internet. Internal pages take up time in a search engine’s response. Blocking those pages can boost speed.
Search engines want to show only the most relevant and useful content. This means that results from the search bar on your website could be included in results, but it’s not always the best idea. Google and other search engines don’t view the internal search results as high quality, useful information. Too much non-useful information hurts your ranking.
You may have other reasons to block the appearance of certain pages from search engines. For example, you may wish to provide certain information only to email or blog subscribers. You may wish to hide pages while you test them, or if you’re using a page for demonstration or educational purposes and don’t need it available to the general public.
4 Ways to Block Your WordPress Search Pages from Search Engines
There are a couple of different ways that you can make it harder for search engines to find specific content, including your WordPress search pages.
Use WordPress Reading Settings
In the WordPress Reading Settings section sits a checkbox that will discourage search engines from finding your website. This doesn’t always guarantee that they will ignore the page. It will, however, stop WordPress from notifying update services about your website visibility.
Use WordPress Features to Hide Your Site
There are a couple of other ways to hide your website or control over who accesses the content. You can make pages and posts private so that only you can see them, or put a password on certain pages. You can also exclude content from XML sitemaps.
Use the robots.txt File
To use this method, you’ll have to make changes to the robots.txt file, which is a configuration that you add to the root directory of your website. The file can provide instructions for search engines. If configured incorrectly, it can have negative effects on your website’s overall search engine optimization though, so this is not a step that is usually suggested for beginners.
Use a Plugin Like Yoast SEO
Plugins like Yoast SEO can make managing a website quite a bit simpler, and that includes hiding search results and pages from search engines if that’s what you’re interested in doing. Within the Yoast SEO settings, find the advanced tab and select “noindex.” Then use the meta robots tag, which will add a line of code to your page that tells search bots to ignore and not follow the page.
Remove Your URL in Google Webmaster Tools
This takes several steps, but in the end, may be one of the more direct ways to go. After you’ve verified your page, look at the configuration settings, click crawler access and remove URL.
Moz lays out several reasons to block internal search results and ways to block content from search engines, in addition to the ones we’ve discussed here.
When it comes to web traffic, creating high-quality content is key to increasing your page views, and although it may seem counterintuitive to hide a page from search engines, it will improve the quality of your public-facing content.