A few years ago, we wrote a very popular post on how to make your website show up on Google. Not surprisingly, several users often ask us the opposite question too — how can I remove my site or a part of it from Google?
There are many reasons why one might want to remove their content from Google:
Some information has leaked to the search engine too early — e.g. details about a new service or product.
The page itself is actually deleted, but the information from it is still available (e.g. mistakenly published information);
Information has been updated on the website, but search engine still displays the old version (e.g. old contacts or mistakenly published information).
So, how to remove information from Google?
If you control the website that contains the information, make sure that you first delete the unwanted page and that you then have access to your Google Search Console account.
The process works just like adding your website to Google — by using Search Console, a website management tool that works like a charm with Voog as well.
You can find more information on how to use it for your site in Voog from our FAQ: How to get my site to show up on search engines?
All in all, there are two preconditions for removing any data from
- The page indexed by Google is deleted or its address (URL) is changed, and
- The website on which the problematic page is (was) located is verified
with Google Search Console.
Removing your brand new website from Google
Building content of a new website takes considerable amount of time. You want to be certain that it will remain off the radars of search engines until you are ready to launch it. But with just a single misstep, info about the existence of your half baked website can easily leak to Google. It would result in Google indexing your unfinished site and making it public.
When creating a new website, such a "leak" might
appear when you share a link to your unfinished website in Facebook, e.g. sharing it with a group of friends. Also, such links might end up in Google when you share the link by e-mail or via Skype when it gets reshared to some third person and posted by him to any web-based channel which is monitored by Google.
Before you request the removal of the website from Google, you
need to remove or rename the problematic site or page. When you rename it, make
sure it won’t get into Google’s sight too soon again. To ensure your secrecy, we recommend protecting the pages with a password.
Now track down the page or site address mistakenly seen by Google. You'll find it very easily — just click on the unwanted Google search result.
Next, go to your Google Search Console and choose "Go to the old version" and "Google Index" > "Remove URLs". In the next view, choose "Temporarily hide" and enter the exact address of the page you wish to removed. Google then asks you to choose the reason for removal. Pick "Clear URL from cache and temporarily remove from Search". It can take up to a couple of days before your request is fulfilled by Google. You can follow the status of your request from the very same place.
Same method can be used when an old page (e.g. page with an out-dated information about your products) is removed from the website, but search engines still show it in their results.
Leaked information on updating your site
Premature information might slip into Google’s sight also when you are just updating some part of your website.
Say your site is already indexed by
Google. Now you are about to launch a new section. As a reasonable guy, you've hidden it from the menus. However, once you add just a single link to the new section in some older, indexed part of your site, Google will jump in and index the new section prematurely too.
Again, you need to make sure that your content is not
publicly available. In addition to renaming and protecting the page with a
password, you should take one additional step. Remove premature content from
your page, publish it and re-enter the information.
Also, steps explained in the previous sections should be taken as well. Find the problematic address and request the removal of it by Google Search Console.
Cached content and search engines
But what if the search engine results already display correct information, but the cached page they provide still has outdated data — or even worse should be private? First, you should invite Google to index your updated website.
Google provides you with an option to speed up the process of updating the cached version of your website. For that, enter the exact address of the page you wish to be removed. This time, choose "Remove page from cache only" to be the reason for removal.
How do I cancel the request of removal?
After Google has confirmed your request of removal, the site or page removed won’t appear in search results at least for 90 days. However, if the very same page or site is still accessible after those 90 days, then Google might index it again. But in case you want your page to show up in search engines before 90 days have passed by (e.g. you have finished adding content to it), you can get it back to listing by removing the removal request in Google Search Console.
Navigate to your Google Search Console account and choose "Google Index" > "Remove URLs". Now choose "Show: Removed" from the menu given on your right hand above the tabel ("Pending" in default). Find the page you wish to reindex and click on "Reinclude". Based on Google’s information, your page will be reindexed within 3-5 working-days.
When NOT to use the URL removal tool
Google has listed some unique cases when using removal tool
is not recommended:
- When search displays results, which link to pages that are
already deleted. Google removes these results by itself upon regular update;
- When you want "a fresh start" (e.g. if the domain was
previously held by another company). You can submit a separate request for that
- When you wish to see "correct" results. E.g. you wish to
see results only without "www" (mysite.com) and wish to remove those with "www" (www.mysite.com). This results into removing everything, including those
Good to know
If your website uses several domains (e.g. mywebsite.com, mybrand.eu etc), then it would be wise to check search results with all your addresses and, if needed, repeat the removal process with other addresses as well.
And don’t forget that there are other search engines besides
Google as well and removing a page from Google search results doesn’t remove
indexed information from others.
Then there’s also Baidu, a Chinese search engine. There’s
no documented process to remove search results from there. But there’s an
unofficial, proven method — write "Free Tibet" in your blog and Baidu switches
you off quickly. Oh, wait — we just... Oops.