The recent WordPress 3.2 release came with a much anticipated upgrade known as Distraction-Free Writing. It allows you to easily configure the text editor to be full screen – emulating the look and feel of working in a word processor. But, it may have a serious drawback by encouraging folks to write partial posts and pages and then saving them as drafts. Read on to find out how this can negatively impact your SEO and let the cat out of the bag on your upcoming posts too early.
What is a Draft?
When you create a new page or post, you have the option to save it as a draft instead of publishing it. This is great for folks who need to get their inspiration down while it’s fresh and then come back to finish it later.
What Happens if it Stays There?
Google has little automated applications called robots (bots for short), or affectionately known as spiders, that crawl the web in search of new posts or pages. Just because your draft isn’t published, it can still be indexed by Google. Within a few months, Google will find and index a new page or post on your site, even if it’s saved as a draft.
How Can I Check What Google has Indexed?
There’s a very easy way to see if Google has indexed one of your drafts. Simple go to Google.com and type in the title. Be sure to put quotation marks around it so you search for that exact phrase. If your post or page comes up in the results, it has been indexed. If not, then Google hasn’t found it yet.
If you want to see all of the pages and posts Google has indexed on your site, go to Google.com, and this time in the search field, type the following.
Be sure to include the colon between the word site and your domain name. And change BlogAid.net to your domain.
How Can I Stop a Draft from Being Indexed?
There are only two easy ways to stop Google’s bots from finding everything but your drafts.
1. Set the draft to noindex and nofollow and don’t archive. If you are using a premium theme with its own built-in SEO, or if you are using a good SEO plugin, then look in the settings for the terms listed and set them so that Google does not index or follow your draft. And, be sure it is not archived in your XML site map either.
There are a couple of drawbacks to using this method. First, only well-behaved bots will follow your instructions. In other words, there are bots that are looking for files on the web to exploit because they are hidden, meaning that they may have a dollar value associated with them. Second, you may forget to uncheck the noindex/nofollow settings when you do publish and the good bots will never find it.
2. The best way to keep drafts from being indexed on your site is to not make a habit of keeping them there in the first place. Write your post or page ideas in a word process. Or, if you’re on the go and use a mobile device, get an app like Evernote or Awesome Notes. You can sync some of these apps with Google Docs, making them easy to retrieve on your computer later.
How Do I Find My Drafts to Remove Them?
That’s easy. From your Admin area, click the Posts link in the left sidebar to bring up a list of all of your blog posts. At the top of the page you’ll see links with numbers beside them that show how many posts are in each category. Simply click the link for Drafts and only those posts will be displayed in the list.
(I suppose that it should go without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway, that you should make a copy of the draft in a word processor before you delete it.)
And, you can bulk delete the drafts easily too. Just click the checkbox on the right, in the gray bar that is above the list. Then click the Bulk Actions drop-down. Select Delete. Then click the Apply button.
Of course, you can just Trash them as you find them too. Simply hover your mouse over the title in the list and a set of links will appear below it. Click the Trash link. You’ll then see a new link at the top for Trashed posts. Be sure to bulk delete them.
Are you in the habit of saving drafts on your site? Has Google indexed them yet?