“Discourage Search Engines from Indexing This Site” setting

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WordPress has a setting that allows for you to tell Search Engines to not index your WordPress site. This option can be found in the Settings > Reading menu

Discourage search engines from indexing this site setting in WordPress

This setting perfectly suits sites that don’t need a presence in search engines, such as staging sites. However, if that is not your intention, turning on this setting leads to disastrous consequences:

  • Search Engine Deindexing: When you turn off visibility for search engines, WordPress adds a “noindex” directive to your site’s pages. This instructs search engines not to index your site. This action can lead to your site being removed from search engine results. Since your site will not appear in search engine results, you will miss out on organic traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Significantly reducing the number of visitors to your site.
  • Impact on SEO Efforts: Turning off search engine visibility nullifies any ongoing SEO efforts. This includes on-page SEO optimizations, content marketing strategies, and backlinking efforts. If search engines previously indexed your site and you turn off visibility, you may lose any existing rankings your site had achieved. Regaining those rankings can be challenging even after you re-enable search engine visibility.
  • Hindered Discoverability: For new websites, turning off search engine visibility prevents users from discovering them through search engines, which will hinder growth and brand recognition.
  • Impact on Analytics and Insights: With reduced or no traffic from search engines, you will not get accurate insights into how users find and interact with your site. This lack of data can affect decisions regarding content and marketing strategies.

Turning off search engine visibility in WordPress will most likely lead to a significant decrease in organic traffic and loss of search engine rankings. It’s generally advisable to keep this setting enabled.