There aren’t many magic bullets or quick fixes in digital marketing—but there are a few. One of them is this surprisingly powerful and sneaky checkbox in the backend of every WordPress site. Here’s how that Magic Checkbox works and why you should probably avoid it.
Today on the Brighter Web Podcast, we’re talking about the WordPress magic checkbox. We did an episode on the Magic Email, and this is another magical episode. We call it that because it’s a surprisingly simple fix that can generate nearly instant results.
What is the magic checkbox in WordPress?
- It’s the opposite of the magic email — the email is your way to get people to respond, and the magic checkbox is telling Google to go away.
- It’s a devastatingly powerful checkbox buried deep in the WordPress settings that can literally make or break your website, and it’s very easy to miss.
- Settings —> Reading —> “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”
- (quick bit about crawling and indexing)
- This adds a “noindex” to your site, and all major search engines will respect this.
Why shouldn’t most websites have the checkbox checked?
- You want Google (and Bing and DuckDuckGo) to see your site.
- Organic search is how most people find sites.
- Without being on their radar, you’re effectively invisible.
- People can still find your site from the URL, but you’re limiting your visibility.
What should you expect after unchecking the box?
- It’ll take some time—the result is not immediate.
- Google still needs to re-crawl your site to discover and index it.
- Depending on the size of your site, it could be a few weeks or potentially a few months.
- But you’ll start to see a noticeable change in the long run.
What are some reasons why WordPress has this?
- Development sites.
- Sites under construction.
- Too many of these development sites forget to uncheck the box when they go live.
What are some other things you can do to improve on-site SEO?
- Product excellent unique content, and don’t screw it up with things like this.
- Use Google Search Console for recommendations and insights.