Decided to make and preserve changes to a page or a post in WordPress without publishing them? We know this doesn’t jump out as a common request, since you usually want content updates visible as soon as possible. However, from our explanation below, you’ll quickly realize how useful and, at times, necessary, this procedure is. It lets you prepare and apply modifications to a published post without manual work. Additionally, you avoid any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) pitfalls with the original content being offline while you do so. With the introduction covered, let’s show practical applications followed by how to save changes without publishing in WordPress.
Reasons to update content on WordPress without publishing
Lots of people refer to this option as “revising” without publishing, and here’s why you would want to do so:
- It lets you draft updates to the post or page you don’t want to apply immediately without copying the old content
- You may need a draft that needs to be approved before publishing
- You have a blog with multiple authors that need to work on the same article before going live
- The website will keep the page or post it online while you work on it. Normally, you’d have to revert it to a draft. In the meantime, it would show as a “404 Error – Not found” to visitors and search engines alike, pressuring you to hurry
- You avoid creating a separate article manually. Without it, besides copying the entire content, you’d have to manually set featured images, categories, tags, and SEO configurations anew. Even worse, you must configure a permanent redirect from the old page to the new
- You can preview changes and experiment without anyone seeing them publicly. Useful for tweaking your theme, configuring a landing page, restructuring text, and so on
1. Create a duplicate WordPress post to save changes without publishing
Learning to duplicate a post or page in WordPress, while dangerous if both the old and the new pages or posts are public, does precisely what you need. We even pointed out some benefits mentioned above in that guide. Depending on the type of post and what you want to achieve, any method in that guide can be useful. We also demonstrated the procedure of using plugins like Yoast Duplicate Post by Team Yoast. Only this time, since you want to make updates, you need to make a slight tweak:
- Go to Posts → All Posts or Pages → All Pages.
- From the three new options below the post or page name, select Rewrite & Republish.
- The plugin will now create a cloned post. You can open it and save drafts with the usual Save link in the upper right corner. If you go back to the section from step 1, you’ll notice the duplicate post titled “Draft, Rewrite & Republish of <original post/page title>”
- When you’re done making changes to the draft, click the Republish button in the top right corner.
- Select Save changes and compare. You’ll now see a typical post revision screen comparing the original page or post with the clone.
- Click on Return to the editor once you’re ready. Schedule the publishing date if you want.
- Click on Republish, and you’ll either schedule a replacement or be notified that the original page or post was replaced with the duplicate one.
2. Employ a WordPress plugin for revisions
The next procedure involves installing a WordPress plugin that only deals with post revisions. It performs the same role as duplicating pages but is straightforward and lightweight, though limited in terms of functionality. Revisionize By Jamie Chong, a plugin we aren’t tied to, used to be the go-to solution up until 2021. Though users report it works, the developer stopped updating it. Consequently, we propose installing Revisionary or PublishPress Revisions as an up-to-date solution with even more functions. The process is nearly identical, but the option from step 2 in method 1 is named New Revision.
3. Save changes without publishing through a WordPress staging environment
The third option includes a feature that’s growing in popularity. Many web hosting providers let users create a staging environment via the cPanel for their website. This will generate an independent copy of your website unavailable to anyone but you or individuals you authorize. You can then use it to test any type of changes safely, including making updates to your posts. As a mere demonstration, since we have no affiliation, Kinsta lets you log in to the Kinsta user dashboard and do this:
- Click on Sites in the left sidebar. Select the site if you have multiple.
- Click on Staging Environment on the right-hand side.
- After seeing the “You have no staging environment” message, click the Create A Staging Environment button.
- Wait for the “the staging environment for this site is being created” message to disappear. If it doesn’t, feel free to refresh the page.
- After the process succeeds, you can make modifications to the site safely. After you’re done, you can save changes to your WordPress website by clicking the Push Staging to Live button in the same tab. Alternatively, manually copy the changes to the live site if they aren’t extensive.
Do this if your web host service doesn’t offer staging environments
It’s not uncommon that your web hosting service doesn’t have a built-in method of generating a staging website. If that’s the case with yours, you have two options:
1. Create your staging environment
There are two choices before you:
- Use a WordPress migration plugin — The easiest alternative. The plugin will do the same as the option above. A well-known option we have no affiliation with is WP STAGING by WP-STAGING.
- Migrate, clone, or restore from a backup — A similar option to the previous one, but one that requires you to set up a subdomain or get a separate, disposable one. You can then import the files you prepared for migration. Alternatively, choose one of many ways to clone your website or create a backup, then restore that data on the secondary website. The downside is that you must take the time to manually apply the changes you tested on the migrated website to your public one.
2. Use a local environment
This technique uses the same intermediaries as above. However, instead of using a secondary domain or a subdomain, you host your website locally. You can use whichever method fits your needs best, but be aware that facilitating cooperation may be harder. In contrast, you can make changes even when you are offline. The same drawback applies, however.