Add a "Hidden" page visibility option to the WordPress core, alongside Public, Private and Password Protected.
Hidden pages contain content that should not be widely promoted in the usual traffic source channels like search engines and social media. A hidden page's content is accessible to any visitor who knows the URL, but there are no automatic links to it on the site itself or in the sitemap, and the site owner does not want to publicise the page on the Internet generally.
Typical uses for a hidden page are:
- Bonus promotions in advertising literature: "For a special bonus offer, visit site.com/bonusoffer"
- Marketing promotions on business cards and in audio files.
- Any time you want to make a page with non-sensitive content easily accessible, but not widely promoted
A hidden page differs from the existing page visibilities like this:
- Public: A hidden page isn't widely advertised. They don't get added automatically to menus even if that option is selected, but they can still be included in menus manually.
- Private: A hidden page's content is accessible to anyone who knows the URL, regardless of their authorisation level.
- Password Protected: A hidden page requires no password to access.
Hidden pages should be marked "noindex", but this alone isn't sufficient. This needs to be a core feature, because many existing plugins can use this information about a page, and a standard mechanism for specifying it is required. Most of the decisions treating public and hidden pages differently occur in plugins that advertise pages to the outside world.
Plugins should treat hidden pages as follows:
- Site Map plugins would not list the page in the XML or human readable sitemap.
- SEO/Robots Meta plugins would mark hidden pages "noindex" by default so they don't get indexed
- Social Network integration plugins would not automatically publish hidden page references to social networks
- Social Network bookmarking plugins would not generate bookmarking features for hidden pages
- Facebook Like plugins would not add a Like button to hidden pages.
- Automatic cross-linking plugins like SEO Smart Links would not generate links to them.
Hidden pages offer a weak but nonetheless useful level of security. The content of a hidden page should not be damaging if publicly released. Nothing stops a visitor from publishing a hidden page's URL on the Internet once they know what it is. The idea is to stop WordPress and it's plugins from promoting them automatically, and to discourage visitors from promoting by trivial actions.