Add this to the long list of things I wish I knew when I started blogging!
If you are thinking about starting a blog, or need to make significant changes to your current blog, you may want to consider putting your WordPress site in “maintenance mode”.
Maintenance mode is like putting a front door on your blog. There might be all sorts of cleaning or dance parties in your undies going on inside, but visitors only see a pretty exterior. This mode keeps your url alive, notifies visitors that your site is either coming soon or is being updated for a better experience, pauses your maintenance from being seen by search engines, and lets you make adjustments without your readers seeing changes by the minute or unsightly styling.
Before we get into the particulars, you should first understand (or at least read once:) some important HTTP status codes because maintenance takes your site out of a regular, “okay” status.
HTTP Status Codes
Every time a web page is called on, the host server sends a http code to your browser. You’ve probably seen what’s called a 404 page- something like “this page no longer exists or has been moved.”
There are two super-helpful graphics at the bottom of this post you may want to save relating to these codes.
In short, here are the most common http codes, borrowed and adapted from Moz:
- 200 OK – The request has succeeded. This is the standard response for successful HTTP requests.
- 301 Moved Permanently – The requested resource has been assigned a new permanent location. This and all future requests should be directed to the given location. This status code is used for 301 redirects. In most instances, the 301 redirect is the best method for implementing redirects on a website. A 301 redirect will pass most, if not all the link-juice from the original location.
- 302 Found – The requested resource resides temporarily at a different location. By using a 302 redirect instead of a 301, search engines will know that this is only a temporary state. No appreciable amount of link-juice will be passed.
- 404 Not Found – The server has not found anything matching the requested location. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent. In time, the page will be removed from the search engine’s index.
- 503 Service Unavailable (<<< This is the one we want!) The server is currently unavailable (this could be due to overload or maintenance). Search engines will know that this is a temporary state. This status code should be used when taking down a site for maintenance.
These codes are the reason you don’t want to just create a landing page on your blog that says “coming soon”. Although you’re notifying visitors to the maintenance status, you’re telling the search engines your pages are active with zero content. No bueno!
Maintenance Mode for WordPress Sites
There are some fantastic features available while your blog is being designed in maintenance mode. If I were going to start a new website, these are the features I would want on my “front door”:
- Responsive- the temporary landing page looks professional across mobile devices.
- Logo- the ability to put a logo or header on the page
- Countdown- an adjustable timer counting down the days to the site’s launch/relaunch.
- Sends a 503 header- this tells any visitors, and most importantly, Google, that your site is down for maintenance and tells its bots not to crawl your site right now, or at least less frequently.
- Email box- the ability for visitors to sign up for your email list.
- Plugins or social icons- social buttons so visitors can find you on social media.
- Minor color/text customization.
- Exclude pages- maybe the ability to exclude pages, like your “About” page.
How to Put Your WordPress Site in Maintenance Mode
If you aren’t afraid of editing your PHP file (and doing it correctly!), you can code your own site for maintenance mode.
For the rest of us who want an easier, quicker, and safer option, there are plugins to save the day. There are 3 pages of “maintenance” plugins listed in the directory. Some shown below:
A lot of people used the plugin “WP Maintenance Mode” (obviously with over 400,000 installs), so you may read about it from other blogs. I would caution you to look at two things- read the 1-star reviews and the last time it was updated. I’m not saying it won’t work for you, it may, but just do your homework.
Like any plugin, I’d suggest looking at the compatibility with the current version of WordPress, number of installs, reading reviews, and looking at their screenshots to see if those plugin features match your requirements. For me, the “Under Construction/Maintenance Mode for Acurax” plugin looks like one I’d try.
After you customize your maintenance page, get to work! You have amazing things to show us and we can’t wait to see it!
Have a great week!
Latest posts by Jenna (see all)
- How to Build a Successful Blog with Limited Time - January 24, 2017
- How to Protect Your Privacy as a Blogger - January 17, 2017
- Blogger Tips for Goal Planning and JtB’s 2017 Business Plan - January 3, 2017