As a WordPress website owner, you have the power to control what content is visible to your visitors and search engines. Sometimes, you may want to hide specific pages from search engines and navigation menus, while other times, you may prefer to restrict access to certain pages only to users with custom permissions. Here, we will delve into the various options for hiding content on your WordPress website and discuss their pros and cons.
Pages Hidden from Search Engines and Navigation:
- Privacy: Hiding pages from search engines and navigation menus can help make sensitive or exclusive content private. It allows you to create landing pages for specific marketing campaigns or special offers without exposing them to the general public.
- Control over indexing: By excluding pages from search engine indexing, you have more control over what content appears in search results, preventing irrelevant, mostly duplicate or unfinished pages from being displayed.
- Enhanced user experience: Removing unnecessary pages from navigation menus can declutter your website’s navigation and provide a smoother browsing experience for visitors.
- Limited privacy: While excluding pages from search engines may discourage indexing, it is not foolproof. Some search engines may still discover and index hidden pages, potentially compromising their privacy.
- Difficult discovery: Hiding pages from navigation menus makes them harder for visitors to find, requiring alternative methods of accessing the content, such as direct links or explicit instructions. This could involve extra work to get the links to these pages to the right visitors.
- Difficulty: Even if you block a page from search engines and users with menus, it may show up in on-site searches, or if another page links to it, visitors will find it. Successfully hiding content may require plugins and/or custom development.
Example use cases for Pages Hidden from Search Engines and Navigation:
- Landing pages for specific marketing campaigns or special offers
- Pages that are in development and not ready for “prime time.”
How to Hide Pages from Search Engines in WordPress:
- Install an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, and each page has settings. In the “advanced settings,” you can choose to hide your page from search engines and not have it show up in your sitemap.xml, which is automatically generated on WordPress sites.
- If you’re not using a plugin, you’ll likely need to edit the theme code and add in the <head>, add a meta tag to show no-index and no-follow:
<META NAME=”robots” CONTENT=”noindex,nofollow”>
This is usually in the header.php file, although you can add a function into functions.php to add new items to the head on specific pages.
Pages Marked Private in WordPress:
- Restricted access: Marking pages as “private” ensures that only authorized users with valid logins can access the content.
- User engagement: Private pages can foster a sense of exclusivity, encouraging users to access and engage with the content.
- Customizable permissions: WordPress’s user role system allows you to assign different permissions to different user roles, enabling granular control over who can view private pages.
- User management complexity: Managing user access to private pages may become more complex as your website grows. Assigning and managing user roles, permissions, and access levels can be time-consuming and require ongoing maintenance.
- Limited visibility: Private pages may not be discoverable by search engines, which can impact their visibility and potential for organic traffic. Promotion through other channels may be necessary to attract visitors to private content.
Examples of Uses for Pages Marked Private in WordPress:
- Documentation for users who already have login credentials
Pages with Custom User Permissions:
- Fine-grained control: Implementing custom user permissions allows you to define specific access rules for individual users or user groups. This level of granularity provides more control over who can view and interact with specific content.
- Monetization opportunities: By restricting access to premium content, you can create membership or subscription models, generating revenue from users who are willing to pay for exclusive or high-value content.
- Personalization: Custom user permissions enable you to deliver personalized experiences by tailoring content based on each user’s specific permissions or preferences.
- Technical expertise required: Implementing custom user permissions often requires advanced knowledge of WordPress development, including working with membership plugins or custom code. This may be challenging for non-technical website owners and costly to have a developer set up.
- Complexity and maintenance: Managing user permissions and ensuring they align with your content strategy can be complex and time-consuming. Regularly reviewing and updating permissions as your website evolves is essential.
Example Use Cases for WordPress Content with Custom User Permissions:
- Membership-based websites with tiered access
- Online learning platforms
- Digital downloads or resources
- Team collaboration spaces
- Client portals
- Contributor roles and content moderation
- Private messaging or networking features
Password Protected Pages:
- Restricted access: Password protected pages allow you to restrict access to specific content using a password.
- Easy implementation: WordPress provides a built-in feature that allows you to password protect individual pages with just a few clicks, making it a convenient option for quick content restriction.
- Limited scalability: Password protection works well for sharing content with a small group of individuals, but it may become cumbersome if you need to share the password with a large number of users or if you frequently update the password.
- Potential for password sharing: There is always the risk of authorized users sharing the password with unauthorized individuals, compromising the exclusivity of the content.
Example use cases for password protected pages:
- Exclusive event or webinar materials
- Client-specific content
Deciding the best way forward for hiding content in WordPress:
When hiding a page in WordPress, remember to think about all of the following:
- The user experience for your visitors
- The autogenerated sitemap.xml
- Any front-end site maps you may have
- A no-index, no-follow meta tag
- Your menus
- Inbound links from your site or other sites can signal to search engines that the content should be indexed.
WordPress provides various methods for hiding content, including pages hidden from search engines and navigation, private pages, pages with custom user permissions, and password-protected pages. Assess your specific needs, consider the pros and cons of each option, and choose the approach that best suits your website’s goals and content strategy.