While getting a site indexed is the goal of most webmasters, there are times when Google should stay away from certain content, such as copyrighted material that was used accidentally or sections for internal use only. There are several ways to get pages removed from indexing, but they do not work quickly. Doing proper Google internet marketing takes time and patience.
Methods for Removal
The following approaches will de-index pages from the Google search:
- Robots exclusion. By placing the meta element NOINDEX in the head of a web page, that page is excluded from indexing. If it is already in search engine results, the webmaster must wait for Google to register the change. The exclusion protocol can also be carried out in the robots.txt file through the DISALLOW statement. In this case, the page may still be indexed, but the content is not displayed in search results. It should be noted that this is not a reliable way to control indexing or analytics.
- Google search console (GSC). This is a free tool that is easy to activate and use. The console allows a webmaster to remove a page from the index by performing the following steps:
- Log into the Google search console and choose the website to be managed
- Select the “Optimization” option from the navigation menu
- Go to the sub-menu and choose “Remove URL”
- Click “Create a new request for removal”
- Type in the URL and confirm it
- Wait at least 48 hours for the changes to take effect
The GSC keeps track of progress and provides updates on removal status. When a request is denied, a “learn more” link will appear to provide more details. Removal requests are canceled by clicking the “Reinclude” link next to the URL. Unless the NOINDEX meta tag is used on the removed page, it may be indexed again in 90 days after the removal request expires. This can have a large effect on Google internet marketing, so it must be watched carefully.
- Protect the page with a login. Pages that require a password for access cannot be indexed by Google. All secure information should always be protected by a login.
- Remove content instead of URL. This approach is used to refresh content in the Google cache. When the page is updated, the webmaster can wait for re-indexing or make a request for the cache to be removed through GSC, which is done by following the page removal steps and choosing “Remove page from cache only.” Another method is adding a NOARCHIVE tag to the updated page. Google will not cache the page until the tag is removed.
- Page deletion. The most effective of method of index prevention is deleting the page. Doing so will trigger a 404 or 410 response from the server and removal from the index by Google.
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). A DMCA request is used when copyrighted content is illegally displayed on another website. Webmasters can also utilize the public removal tool. These options should only be exercised when contacting the owner of the infringing site has not resulted in content modification or removal.
Methods That Do Not Work
The following methods are not effective for de-indexing a page:
- Not linking to the page. While this keeps a page hidden from public view, it can still be crawled by Google.
- Using the NOFOLLOW attribute. This does stop Google from following that specific link, but it does not stop indexing of that page or other pages that do not have the attribute.
When a webmaster has tried all of the available methods for removing content, but it still appears in search engine results, there may be other URLs displaying the content or the cache is outdated. This requires removing the other pages along with the one in question. In addition, removing pages may temporarily impact a website’s ranking. All removal methods should be used with caution.
The Internet Marketing Team is always available to help webmasters with Google internet marketing. Call 888-518-3718 for more information or visit the website to see the available options.