How to Remove Your Development Site From Google

under_constructionThere you are, diligently working on your developement / demo account, getting close to launching your brand new ecommerce site.

You get an order that doesn’t look right. Upon investigating, you find that the order was not placed through your live site, but was placed on your development site! You quickly search google for “” and see that Google has somehow indexed your development site.

Panic sets in, and you aren’t sure what to do now that your development site is out there for everyone to find and use…

Google has you covered

Fortunately, Google has a solution to allow you to quickly remove a site from Google’s search index. Here are the step by step instructions for removing your development account from Google. Google says it will be removed quickly:

Important! The URL removal tool is intended for pages that urgently need to be removed—for example, because they contain confidential data that was accidentally exposed.

Don’t forget the robots.txt file

In conjunction with requesting Google remove your development site, make sure your robots.txt file is set to disallow future indexing. Essentially, upload a robots.txt file with these 2 lines:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

*ONLY* do this with your development site, and never your live site. Otherwise, you’ll block your live site from being crawled and indexed. Remember this change if you ever copy the files from your demo site to your live site.

Note: We set up the robots.txt file by default when we create a development / demo account for our ShopSite ecommerce clients. This avoids having the dev. account become indexed by Google.

An alternate method

If you need to get people to your live site ASAP, and can’t wait for Google to remove the links, you can always set up a 301 redirect (in your .htaccess file) for everything at your development account to be redirected to your live site:

RedirectMatch Permanent (.*)$1

This will send everyone (including you) trying to access your development account to the same URL at your live site. Only do this if you no longer need to access the material in your dev. account.

If you need to continue working on the demo site, but want everyone else redirected, you can use the code below to not redirect your local IP address:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} !^123\.456\.789\.012
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

Hopefully these tips help you if you ever find your “not for public” site being indexed and used by the public.

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