If your development process looks anything like ours, your development and staging servers are separate from the client’s production server. While developing a website, you don’t want it accessible by search engine, so you check the box in WordPress to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”. This setting configures your website to tell search engines, “Go away.” It is up to the search engine to honor that request, but most of them fall in line. If you are curious about the technical side of what this setting does, read up on it in the WordPress Codex.
One of the biggest headaches (and sometimes heartaches, if you forget to do it) when launching a WordPress website is un-checking this box. It’s a simple enough task, but is easily overlooked. If left checked, this setting will not only destroy a live site’s search ranking, but it will also destroy your client’s faith in you. And nobody wants that.
Enter the Updater
Search Engine Visibility Updater, or WP-SEVU, is a plugin by Connect Think which automates this process. Instead of manually updating the visibility setting when you launch a site, or every time you deploy an update, you can let this plugin handle it for you. Once installed, it adds a Live Domain field to the Settings->Reading admin panel in WordPress. The plugin will automatically compare WordPress’ current domain to the one in this field. If they match, it will un-check the box for you. If they don’t match, it will check the box. Voilà.