Last updated on: March 30th, 2015
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode, and when they should be used? There are many WordPress plugins that do one, the other or both. The problem is many users use the two plugins or modes interchangeable when in reality each one has a very specific purpose and can hurt your SEO if you use them wrong.
When to use a Coming Soon Plugin (or mode)
A Coming Soon Plugin should be used when a domain is new and you are building out the site. Believe it or not, the head of Google’s anti-SPAM team has specifically suggested a “coming soon” page is a good idea. See for yourself.
Adding a Coming Soon page gives you a head start on getting indexed by Google. Plus it’s an ideal time to collect emails from interested visitors. A coming soon page should be a no brainer for anyone creating a new website.
When to use a Maintenance Mode Plugin (or Maintenance Mode)
Maintenance Mode should only be used when your established site is truly down for maintenance. Maintenance Mode returns a special header code (503) to notify search engines that your site is currently down so it does not negatively affect your site’s reputation. Typically you also set a time for the planned maintenance so the Google Bot knows when to return to your site.
Google also stresses that your Maintenance Mode page needs to be useful to users. So you’ll want to communicate why you are down and when you’ll be back up. It’s also a great place to put an opt-in form so you can collect email from users and notify them when you are back up.
Never use a Coming Soon Page for Maintenance Mode or Maintenance Mode for a Coming Soon Page
If you were to use a Coming Soon page when your site was down for maintenance then Google could potentially index that page as your site and this could have detrimental affects on your SEO.
On the other side of the coin if you use Maintenance Mode when you site is launching Google will not index your site.
Google also warns against using Maintenance mode as a permanent solution.
It is important, however, to not treat 503 as a permanent solution: lasting 503s can eventually be seen as a sign that the server is now permanently unavailable and can result in us removing URLs from Google’s index.
I typically only use Maintenance Mode for a day or two at the most.
Be sure to use a plugin like SeedProd Coming Soon Pro which has both a coming soon and maintenance mode when you are launching a website or going down for maintenance respectively. Using the wrong mode could have a major impact on your SEO efforts and cause major headaches for you and/or your client.