How do I quickly hide a hierarchy of pages from search engines and external users?

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I use Multisite to manage the various languages of a web site.

The original language site has a huge page hierarchy (navigation items with plenty of sub-pages and sub-sub-pages), à la

I’ve cloned the original language version into a new language copy.

However, only a fraction of the content is currently translated to the new language, so there’s several menu items I need to hide from the public. I only want to hide them, not delete them, so editors can continue translating the missing content behind the scenes.

I’ve naturally removed the menu entries corresponding with each page I want to hide, but I fear Google will manage to index the rest anyway, as it somehow usually does, leading to unsuspecting users being directed to incomplete, broken, un-translated content.

How can I hide an entire hierarchy of pages in WordPress (e.g. “menu3” and all its children in the sketch above)?

  • Setting the topmost page’s status to “private” doesn’t affect the status of the sub-pages and I would have to manually change the status for each sub-page

  • Keeping Google from indexing the hidden content is an option, but it’s work and it’s easy to forget to remove once the content is translated

  • Making the hierarchies inaccessible using .htaccess directives is also an option, but then editors will be unable to work on the pages – so not an option

Is there a built-in way to do this in WordPress?

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