I am not asking about the creation of a staging environment. I need to rephrase my question for clarity:

Is there a reason why I wouldn't want to change the document root for the domain of our website to point to the document root on the staging website during a site upgrade, and leave it there permanently, with the production site now becoming the staging site?

Will it affect search engine traffic or the way that Google crawls the website if the document root folder changes entirely?

Sorry, if there is a duplicate question with answers on this already, but I am not seeing answers addressing the change of the document root specifically, or how it could affect traffic, seo, etc.

OLD QUESTION text to follow:

My company's website needs to undergo some big upgrades. We want to avoid downtime for our users if at all possible.

Are there reasons why we wouldn't want to create a duplicate site, and during maintenance simply change the document root for our domain name to this site's folder?

This way, we could create a duplicate site, perform the upgrade, ensure everything is working, and when it is, change the document root folder.

I have been scouring the web for information about how this could affect our site, such as whether this would change anything in the eyes of Google, etc. and so far, I've found nothing about it.

I'm worried I'm missing something big.

  • This is exactly the purpose of dev, staging and live.
    – Amelia
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 16:36
  • We have dev, staging and live, but in order to upgrade the live version of the site, it would still require downtime. We have already used dev and staging to ensure a smooth upgrade, but the live site would still come down while the actual upgrade itself is performed. It is possible to avoid this entirely if we were to switch document roots for the actual upgrade portion of the process.
    – enga
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 16:53
  • When I upgraded sites for major telecoms, there was always a cluster, matching round-robin servers, or similar scenario where one system was taken offline, updated, tested, then put online and the other copies of the site taken offline to undergo the same update. We would do this during the most quiet time of the day and the only thing suffered might have been speed. If you are using a hosting company, sometimes they will lend you a server for a period to help. There you can deploy your site, update it, point users to the temp server while you update your original server. Then switch it back.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 17:01
  • Thank you, that's what I was curious about. What I am worried about is whether changing the document root will affect search engines or if there are any side effects I'm failing to take into account.
    – enga
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


This is perfectly fine. The search engines don't know what the doc root of your website is nor do they care. They only care about what content is found when URLs are requested for your site.

Large production systems use multiple web servers to serve their content and each visit, and possibly each requested depending on setup, can go to a different server. So this is normal and a common thing to do.


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