Google Gives More URL Removal Options

It seems counterproductive to spend time and money on search engine optimisation in order to get as much visibility as possible, only to then want some of your indexed pages removed from Google. In reality, URL removal can be a beneficial endeavour and can help to keep your search engine presence up to date. In some instances, having these pages indexed by Google can be more harmful than if you had a few less pages counted in the search results. For example:

  1. If a page contains confidential information: A page containing sensitive or confidential information such as contact details that shouldn’t be made public. If a page like this has been indexed by mistake – for example if a robot block has not been implemented for whatever reason- the pages will need to be removed manually in order to maintain the integrity of the data.
  2. If you want to permanently remove a page: It is possible to use a URL redirect but, if you have permanently removed a page from your site, for example if you no longer stock a particular product or brand, a URL removal can be considered.
  3. If the page is not legal: If you have a page on your domain that breaks industrial, state or national laws, you won’t want it to be indexed on Google. A URL removal should be used to take the page from search indexes.

Previously, URL removal through Google was a time consuming process with the page first needing to be blocked before Google would remove the offending URL from their search indexes. Now, the search engine has removed this extra layer of activity, making it much quicker and easier to remove troubling pages from the SERPS via the Webmaster Tools interface.

To begin taking advantage of this streamlined process, you must first have verified ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools. This can be done by uploading a Google-specified meta tag to the site. When you’re confirmed as the site owner, you’ll have the control needed to remove problem URLs.

When you first request that Google removes a URL from public view, the request is treated as a temporary one for the first 90 days. While spiders may continue to crawl the page at any point in this three-month window, the page will be not be displayed. While this is not advisable as a temporary method of removing a page (a redirect is more effective and efficient for pages that you want to be unavailable for a specific period of time) the request can be removed and the page reinstated during the 90 days if necessary.

After 90 days, the page is eligible to appear again, making it necessary to implement a second method of page removal. This can be done before, during or even after the end of the 90 day period set by Google as a temporary threshold.

To permanently remove the page, a robots text file block can be placed on the page, a 401 or 402 error message returned or a meta tag blocking the page from being indexed can be placed in the source code.