How to Unpublish a WordPress Website

How to Unpublish a WordPress Website

Have you ever wanted to take your WordPress site down temporarily? You may need to make some changes or updates, or you may want to keep your website private for a while. Whatever the reason, unpublishing your site can be a simple solution.

WordPress is a popular content management system that powers over 40% of all websites on the internet. With its user-friendly interface and customizable themes, it’s no wonder that WordPress has become the go-to platform for website owners. However, not everyone knows how to unpublish their WordPress website when needed.

If you’re looking to unpublish your site, there are a few things to consider before you hit that “delete” button. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps you need to take to safely unpublish your WordPress site and provide some tips for keeping your site offline while you work on it.

What is Unpublishing a WordPress Website?

Unpublishing a WordPress site takes your website offline, making it inaccessible to visitors and search engines. This involves hiding or removing all content from public view, including posts, pages, media files, etc. The various reasons may cause you to unpublish a website. It could be due to maintenance or security reasons, or because the owner no longer wants to keep the site active. On the other hand, you may hide a page from some users or completely delete it from your website.

Why Unpublish WordPress Site?

Having fresh content and updated information ensures visitors have valuable experiences when they visit. However, you may want to unpublish a page, like if you’ve mistakenly changed your direction or created a draft and now want to update it privately. Some content may also become outdated over time, so it might be best to archive it or add an explanation that the post is old.

It’s nice knowing that WordPress allows users to unpublish WordPress pages whenever needed. If a post isn’t adding any value or isn’t applicable anymore, you can take care of it quickly by removing its public visibility while preserving its content. This is especially great for bloggers who write reviews and need to keep up with changes in products so they don’t mislead their readers with wrong information.

Unpublish WordPress Site

Unpublishing a WordPress site can be beneficial for many reasons. Depending on the website’s purpose, unpublishing it could help protect business information, prevent unnecessary expense and upkeep, keep sensitive data secure, or reduce website traffic. Some of the most common reasons to unpublish a WordPress site include the following:

    • Maintenance: During maintenance or upgrades, you may need to unpublish your website so that it is not visible to visitors. This allows you to make changes and updates without disruption.
    • Security: If your website has been hacked or you are worried about potential security threats, you can take the site offline to protect it from malicious activity.
    • Closure: If you no longer use a website and do not plan to keep it active, unpublishing it will make it unavailable to visitors and search engines.

A Step-by-Step Process to Unpublish a WordPress Site

No matter what the reason, there are several ways for you to successfully unpublish a WordPress page with little effort. You can use password protection, user restriction settings, or even change its visibility mode in the Settings tab. If you no longer need that page, you can delete it from your WordPress site. However, here is a step-by-step process to safely unpublish a website.

Step 1: Backup Your WordPress Site and Database

Before making any changes to a WordPress site, it is always important to back up your website and its database first. This ensures that if anything goes wrong as you unpublish your WordPress site, you can restore it to its original state.

You will need a backup plugin or service and an FTP program to keep database backups and your WordPress website backup. The plugin or service will help you generate a backup of your WordPress site, while the FTP program will be used to access the website’s files and make any necessary changes.

Step 2: Put Your WordPress Site in Maintenance Mode

When you want to unpublish your WordPress site, you first need to put the site into maintenance mode. This will prevent visitors from viewing or accessing any part of your website while you’re making changes.

You can also use the WP Maintenance Mode plugin to put your site into maintenance mode. This plugin allows you to customize your “maintenance mode” page’s appearance so visitors know why the website is unavailable.

Step 3: Make the WordPress Site Password Protected

One of the easiest ways to unpublish a WordPress site is by password-protecting it. This means that when visitors try to access your website, they must enter a password before viewing any content.

To password-protect your WordPress site, you will need to install a plugin like Password Protect WordPress (PPWP).

After installing and activating the plugin, you can set a password for your entire website or individual posts and pages.
Password-protecting a page in WordPress can be a great way to restrict access to certain areas of your website easily. This is a great tool if you’re working on something confidential and need to keep it private from the general public or want to set up an exclusive area for members and co-workers.

Firstly, you’ll need to open the page you want to protect and click the ‘Public’ button next to ‘Visibility’. Then select the ‘Password Protected’ option and add a secure password into the field provided.

When visitors type in the address of your protected page, they will be prompted with a login window where they can enter their code and gain full access. This is an easy way to manage who has access to what parts of your WordPress site.

Step 4: Delete or Hide Posts, Pages, and Media Files from Your Website

Sometimes you will need to hide or delete all posts, pages, and media files from your WordPress site. This is an important step since these items will remain visible on the internet even after you unpublish your website.

Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the “Posts” section. Here, you will be able to select all of the blog posts that are associated with your website and delete them. You can also hide them by changing their post visibility to “Private” or “Password Protected”.

Edit the Visibility

Next, go to the “Pages” section and repeat this process for any pages associated with your website. You can also delete or hide any media files in the “Media” section.

Once you have finished hiding or deleting all the content associated with your website, you can move on to the next step.

Step 5: Clean Up the Dashboard Menu and Left-Hand Menu Options on Your Admin Dashboard

When you unpublish your WordPress site, cleaning up the dashboard and left-hand menu options on your admin dashboard is important. This helps to ensure that users can no longer access the site and its contents.

To begin, log in to the WordPress administration panel for your website. From there, look at the menus on the side of the screen (these are called “widgets”) and delete any related to your website.

Next, go to the main dashboard of your WordPress site and select “Appearance” from the left-hand menu. Here, you can remove any menus or widgets associated with your website. This may include “Recent Posts” or “Recent Comments”.

Step 6: Remove Direct Links to Internal Pages from the Dropdown Menu

When you unpublish a WordPress site, removing all direct links to the site’s internal pages from the dropdown menu is important. This must be challenging since the drop-down menu may contain dozens of links.

To remove direct links to internal pages from the dropdown menu, go to the Appearance section in your WordPress admin dashboard. Then, select the “Menus” option and create a new menu item.

dropdown menu

Next, add the pages you want to remove from the drop-down menu in the “Pages” section of the screen. Finally, click “Save Menu” to ensure all your changes are kept.

Step 7: Prevent Search Engine Crawlers from Indexing Your Website

When you unpublish a WordPress site, it’s essential to prevent search engine crawlers from indexing your website. Search engines such as Google and Bing sometimes keep pages in their index even after you have removed them from your website. To ensure visitors cannot view your unpublished posts or website via a search engine, take the following steps:

    • Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and select the “Settings” option.
    • Go to the “Reading” tab and ensure the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option is checked.
    • Click “Save Changes” to save your settings.

discourage search engines

By following these steps, you can successfully unpublish your WordPress site. You can contact a professional web developer for assistance if you have further questions.

Step 8: Redirect Your Site

Unpublishing your website is only half of the process. The other half redirects any visitors who might still visit your website. This can be done by setting up a 301 redirect, which will send visitors to a new URL.

To set up a 301 redirect manually, you will need to access your site’s.htaccess file and add the following code:

Redirect 301 (old URL) to

Replace /OLD-URL/ with the URL of the page you want to redirect and with the URL of the page you want to redirect to.

Alternatively, you can use a plugin like Redirection to set up redirects without accessing your site’s .htaccess file. You can easily create and manage redirects from a user-friendly interface with Redirection. This plugin also provides additional features such as 404 error tracking, automatic redirect suggestions, and more. By properly setting up a 301 redirect, you can ensure that your website visitors are seamlessly directed to the correct page and prevent them from encountering a frustrating error page.

Step 9: Update Your Search Engine Listings

Finally, it is important to update your search engine listings. This will ensure that any indexed pages on your website are removed from the search engine’s results. To do this, you will need to log into the Google and Bing webmaster tools and submit a request to have the pages removed.

Once you have completed these steps, your website should be successfully unpublished.

Quick Method 2: Unpublishing Pages on Your WordPress Site

The first step to unpublishing a single WordPress page is to switch the page to draft mode. This hidden feature is incredibly helpful for removing pages without deleting them. It is also useful if you would like to edit the page and republish it later. Switching the page to draft will allow only logged-in users to view the page in the WordPress dashboard, while visitors to your website will not have access.

If you have noticed errors on a page or need more time to refine and improve its contents, then this option of unpublishing will be very beneficial. To turn a published page into a draft, all that needs to be done is head over to Pages » All Pages, hover over the desired post, and click ‘Edit’ when it appears. Once there, switch the status from published to draft and save your changes. Now your content can stay protected until you are ready for everyone else to see it!

switch to draft from published

However, you can also delete this post if it is no longer required. For this, click the “Move to trash” button, and WordPress will automatically delete it after 30 days from the trash.

Whether you draft or delete a published page, removing a live post may cause broken links and affect WordPress SEO. So make sure to redirect the URL to another relevant page to avoid harming the SEO ranking of your website.

Unpublishing with the Bulk Tool

Unpublishing multiple pages at once using the Bulk Tool is a quick and easy way to make large-scale website changes without losing any content permanently. This tool allows you to select as many pages as you would like and then apply an edit option that affects these pages simultaneously. Instead of manually unpublishing each page one by one, this tool does it all for you with just a few clicks.

By utilizing this feature, web admins can save themselves time and energy, allowing them to focus on other important aspects of maintaining their site. Furthermore, it helps prevent data loss when making significant changes, such as transferring a website’s domain or hosting platform. With the Bulk Tool at their disposal, webmasters can easily make life-altering changes with ease and efficiency.

Method 3: Create a Members-Only WordPress Page

Making a page members-only is essential if you want to monetize your WordPress website. This restriction lets you earn revenue while providing exclusive content to those who join your membership site. By hiding certain pages from the average visitor, you can collect email addresses and build an email list. Furthermore, you can even charge a fee for accessing private content on the page.

The MemberPress plugin is really helpful in making a page members-only. It’s widely regarded as the best WordPress membership plugin and provides several key features for creating a successful page. With MemberPress, you can create multiple subscriber levels, publish exclusive content for members only, and accept credit card payments without breaking a sweat. This powerful tool comes with everything needed to build a profitable membership program with WordPress in no time at all.


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