Can I work on my SEO and have my web site "invisible"?


Here is a kind of confusing :) web site/SEO newbie question. I was looking for answer everywhere, but it is hard to find the one I was looking for.

The question:

Since my product is still not ready for promotion, but would like not to waste time and work on SEO for my web site, is it somehow possible to have my site promoted, but in the same time "not visible" to outside world? Should I put some "coming soon" home page, or redirect the trafic to some other place (Google, Bing.. where), or...? Can I effectively apply to directories, make backlinks, and completely work on tuning SEO, without accepting visitors to ANY of my pages? Will crawlers recognize and succesfully promote contents of site like this, and will all my SEO efforts work the same as if I have site visible?

What are your suggestions, experience, recommendations? What's the best way to do this?

Thanks in advance for your time and your answers!

Website SEO

asked Jun 10 '10 at 00:14
105 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


Well, I'm not so certain I understand exactly what you'd like to accomplish, but here it goes:

1) if you don't want any search engines to crawl and index your site, then put a file called "robots.txt" in the root directory with this in it:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /
people can view the site, but search engines will not index your site.

2) If you want only a select few people to access the site while it is being "built", then password protect the directories. On a typical linux host, here's how you do that:

a) create a .htaccess file in the root of the website containing:

AuthName "Members only in here"

AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /path/to/your/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
require valid-user
b) use the utility htpasswd (in the directory you want to create the .htpasswd in) like this:

htpasswd -c .htpasswd username 

(for the first time only. remove the -c if you want to add more users)

Now, remember that if you are building backlinks, the backlinks need to go somewhere, so you may not be getting any benefit from your linkbuilding (or approval from partners) unless the site is live. If crawlers cannot reach the destination, or see a robots.txt exclusion in the destination, then they likely will not include the link - and have no positive impact on your effort.

Better to create a coming soon page that is visible, create the production site behind a password protected other site with no indexing, then move the completed production site over when ready.

answered Jun 10 '10 at 00:54
Jim Galley
9,952 points


I don't get it. You want to attract traffic to your site without having a site? Why?

More importantly... why would a search engine ever want to point to you if there's nothing there yet? They would be sending their searching audience on a wild goose chase. Search engines don't like to do this, because it makes the search engine look bad.

Start a blog. Talk about things that are important to your eventual customers. Maybe people will find the blog, and follow it. Then when you have something to announce you'll have some readers who care.

answered Jun 10 '10 at 11:27
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points


It sounds as though you want to promote your website while it is being built. Your best bet would be to create a "Coming Soon" page to direct users to while keeping your dev site offline. Also, as far as I know, if your page is not published and public, search engines cannot index it.

However, I will say, this has the potential to annoy your potential clients if they search for something only to wind up at a "Coming Soon" page. If your site is not a 6-month project, I would simply complete the site and allow it to be indexed, and searched for after completion.

answered Jun 10 '10 at 05:18
Lizeth Gomez
61 points

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