Why You Shouldn’t Put a No Index No Follow Tag on a Development Site

Share This Post

Having an up-to-date website is a basic requirement for most businesses, and developers often use development sites to test changes before making them live. This is a good best practice to have and keeps websites from showing errors or incomplete content. But if you’re not careful with your coding, you could be doing more harm than good by placing a “no index no follow” tag on your development site. This tag prevents search engines from crawling the pages of your development site, meaning that any content or changes made there won’t show up in search results — even when it’s ready to go live! In this blog post, we’ll discuss why it’s harmful to put a “no index no follow” tag on your development site and what alternative strategies are available. 

Why the “No Index No Follow” Tag Matters

When a search engine crawls your site, it is looking for quality content that can be indexed and ranked. So when you place a “no index no follow” tag on your development site, the search engine won’t recognize any of the changes that have been made there — meaning the content won’t show up in search results. This is fine if you are working on a site that you never want to have indexed, but if you will eventually want the site to appear in search results, you should never apply this tag.

A “no index no follow” tag can delay website indexing by up to 3-6 months. This can severely impede SEO efforts, especially if the tag is active after the DNS (domain name) has been connected. When “no index no follow” is applied at a domain name level, no pages from that site will appear in search engines for a very long time, and even then their ranking will be affected.

Alternative Strategies

One alternative strategy is to use a subdomain or subfolder for your development site. This way, the search engine will recognize it as a separate site and will not index it. 

Another option is to use a password-protected development site, which prevents search engines from crawling the site while still allowing you to test changes.

Another alternative is to use a staging server, which is a replica of the live server that is used for testing and development. This way, you can test changes on the staging server before pushing them to the live site, and the search engine will not be able to crawl the staging server as it is not accessible to the public.

Oops! I Pushed My Website Live Before Removing the No Index No Follow Tag

If your site was in development and you accidentally connected the domain before removing the “no index no follow” tag, don’t fret. This is a common mistake, and while it may slow down your site’s indexing with Google, it won’t stop indexing completely if you act fast. 

How to Fix This Issue:

1. First, remove the “no index no follow” tag from your website. If you are using WordPress, you’ll want to go to Settings > Reading > “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” and uncheck the checkbox.

2.Go into Google Search Console and visit the “Pages” tab.

3.Search for the URL you want to index. If it is not indexed, you will see the description below.

4. Click “Test Live URL” to make sure your link is indexable. This may take a minute or two. If your URL is available to Google, you will see the notice below.

5. If your URL is available to Google, click “Request Indexing.” This will put your page into a priority crawl queue. It will not completely reverse the “no index no follow” tag, but it will speed up the process of getting your website crawled and indexed.

Summing Up

In conclusion, using a “no index no follow” tag on your development site can harm your website’s SEO and search engine ranking. Instead, consider using a subdomain or subfolder, password-protecting your development site, or using a staging server to test changes before making them live. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your website remains visible to search engines and that your changes will not negatively impact your website’s search engine performance.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Pair of hands typing on keyboard behind icons depicting white label SEO activities.
White Label SEO

Why White Label SEO is Essential for Your Agency

Key Takeaways The Strategic Benefits of White Label SEO for Businesses and Agencies Expertise With No Overhead: Allows your agency to offer expert-level services, saving

We are a remote company based out of Spartanburg, South Carolina. Evolve SEO Services serves businesses and digital marketing agencies throughout the United States. Below are areas we can visit in person.

South Carolina

Get your FREE SEO audit!

Fill out the short form below to receive a free comprehensive website audit, including SEO recommendations and a customized plan of action

Free SEO Audit Request (#5)