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Considering upgrade of CMS to latest version- the process may take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks.

May suggest - we need to work on live server, what we have planned:

  • take exact replica of site and move to a test domain, but on live server

  • Block Google, Bing, Yahoo - User-agent: Google Disallow: /, User-agent: Bing Disallow: /, User-agent: Yahoo Disallow: / in robots.txt

  • Will upgrade CMS and add functionality - will test the entire structure, check URLusing xenu and move on to configure the site on original domain

The process upgradation and new tools may take 2 to 4 weeks....

Concern is that despite blocking Google, Bing & Yahoo through

   User agent disallow 

can still the URLof test site can be crawled by the search engines - if yes - it may hurt the original site as will read on as entire duplicate or is there any alternate way around.

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You must make sure that this site is unavailable to search engines. The best way to do this is to put the entire dev site behind a login mechanism. Basic Authentication is the simplest and most effective way to do this. It makes it impossible for search engines to crawl but is easy for developers/users to access as they only need to enter a password once per visit.

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Thanks, the site going to be upgraded in joomla which in its global configuration has site maintenance / offline mode. Through which site can be accessed only with super admin user name and password only. Will it work as basic authentication –  Saahil Sinha Jul 10 '13 at 16:32
    
Sounds like it will. If you can't get to the content without logging in first then it will do what you need. –  John Conde Jul 10 '13 at 17:17
    
thanks, the content yes will be accessible only post login. am going ahead with it. many thanks –  Saahil Sinha Jul 10 '13 at 17:32
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You are describing a staging site. As you suggest, you will replicate the site and its production environment locally and to a staging site for development and testing.

Also, as you have mentioned, you may restrict access to the staging site by filtering by UserAgent and also with robots.txt. I recommend blocking access to this staging site using an Authentication method, such as Basic Auth as mentioned by OP.

You may wish to research a Development -> Staging -> Production workflow. Sounds like what you are trying to achieve.

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John is correct about adding authentication. One alternative is to restrict the site to specific IPs (e.g. the IP of your office), and serve a 404 or 403 error to others.

Also, with regards to robots.txt, you should block all bots, which is much simpler:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Even if you only block via robots.txt, there is no downside for SEO. The test site will not be crawled. If any individual page has a link to it from elsewhere that page may be crawled but never the whole site.

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