I was really unsure of how to title this. I hope I didn't confuse any of us?
So, basically I need to launch a temporary website but plan to revert back to my main site. It's a long story...
What I want to do is a complete overhaul my current site from top to bottom but this change is only temporarily. I could go through my current site change everything but then I'd have to change everything back later. That is a HUGE hassle.
I was thinking that I could upload a new site or clone my current site and make changes at a subfolder like /new. So the new site would be hosted at example.com/new. I could then ask the server to point to the /new folder off of the root and then when people try to access example.com, they see the contents in example.com/new. Does that make sense?
My problem is, I don't want Google scanning /new and assuming that everything that was on example.com before is gone. That might hurt ranking. So, how can I temporarily tell Google to no cache or spider the site as is but still not ignore it completely?
Would telling the robots.txt file to disavow the /new folder do anything? I guess not since technically /new would not exist if the root was pointing to it? In other words, if example.com shows example.com... Google sees the page as example.com and not example.com/new. I also thought about putting a meta tag into the temporary site for nofollow, noindex. no cache but then again Google may mark that and not want ever scan my domain or will they see the meta tag has changed when I revert back to the old site?
Huh. How about Option B? Instead of a rewrite or DNS approach, just do a temporary redirect to example.com/new/rest-of-request-here. Last I heard, google recognizes a distinction between 301 ("moved forever, here's the new address") and 302 ("use this other entrance while renovation is under way").
I'd say it depends on how different your site is going to be from the client side, as you didn't mention whether the changes you are applying are for backend stuff or for output the users/bots will actually see, though 'temporary website' does seem to suggest that the site shown will be dramatically different.
If it's the former you could simply rewrite internally without redirecting of any kind.
it would be dramatically different. The benefits of cloning is that I can keep the same structure like example.com/page1.htm and any links on Google to page1.htm would remain active. Although I would like to just build a brand new site for this occasion (different pages, different content) rather than have to clone site A and change content on every page.
I understand if Google looks for page1.html and it's missing or not redirecting to anything, that might cause issues.