So here is the situation, you have a spiffy website with heaps of great content, maybe a few personal blog posts regarding people or companies you do not like. One day, you get a phone call for some lawyer threatening to take your website down and you with it if you don’t remove one or two of your blog posts. Like most bloggers, you get scared and remove the posts, but unfortunately the post still lingers as a cached copy on Google’s index. Well, its time for you to use Google’s URL Removal tool.
Most legal issues online deal with Copyrighted material or content which defames someone or a company. I won’t get into details of each as they each deserve their own posts but I will get into detail of how to prevent yourself from getting into more trouble by removing pages from Google’s index.
Google’s URL Removal tool does exactly what the names says, it removes cached pages from Google’s search results so that you don’t keep getting hassled by lawyers or angry mobs. To do this is as simple as logging into your Webmaster Tools’ control panel and clicking on the “URL Removals” Link. You will then need to submit a URL removal request, choose which part of your website you wish to remove from the index and viola you’re done.
Note, you will also need to make sure that you:
- return an HTTP status code of either 404 or 410.
- Block the page using a robots.txt file.
- Block the page using a meta noindex tag.
so that your page(s) won’t get indexed again.
Using URL removal to remove duplicate content
Although the hypothetical scenario I used above illustrates the usefulness of the URL removal tool for legal issues, it can also be used for Search engine optimisation. The most common use which I can currently think of is to remove duplicate and low quality content from Google’s index. There are several reasons for thisÂ such as:
- to avoid getting penalised by the duplicate content filter
- to weed up the low quality “noise” filled pages to increase overall ranking of website
- to prevent certain pages from being seen as duplicates
You may even wish to remove a complete sub directory from being indexed (for example the tag pages) as there may be pages which you created to make your website easier to index (sitemaps). Either way this is very handy when you really want to make something “disappear“.