How to use the URL removal tool in Search Console
The URL removal tool is a feature of Google Search Console. You can use it when you don’t want a specific page to appear in the search results. The tool does not remove your URL from Google’s index but can temporarily hide it from users.
When to use the URL removal tool
The URL removal tool is useful when:
- You need to remove a page urgently. The URL removal tool removes a page from search results within approximately 24 hours. That’s why you can use it in a situation when, for example, you’ve posted sensitive information by mistake, or your site has been hacked, and you want pages removed from search immediately.
- You want to remove a large number of pages. Google might take a while to crawl a large number of pages and notice that, for example, you’ve added a noindex meta tag (the HTML tag that says you don’t want the page to be indexed). You can quickly remove these pages using the URL removal tool without waiting for Google to crawl them.
- You’ve changed your content, and you don’t want the old information to appear in the description snippet. The Remove URL Pages tool allows you to clear cached URL pages, which removes the description snippet so the pages can be crawled again.
- You do not have access to your own website code or server. The URL Remover tool allows you to easily remove a page in Google Search Console without having to write code or configure your server.
- You want to monitor if any of your pages are reported as outdated or adult content. In the URL removal tool, you can see if someone requests to remove your pages and act quickly, for example, to update your content.
How to use the URL removal tool
You can access the URL removal tool in Google Search Console by clicking on the “Removals” option on the sidebar.
The URL removal tool is divided into three sections:
- temporary removals,
- old content,
- SafeSearch filter.
Temporary removals section
In the Temporary removals section, you can:
- Temporarily remove URL pages and
- Clear cached URL pages and
- See a history of your removal requests from the past six months.
Temporarily remove the URL
The Temporarily Remove URL option removes your page from Google search results for six months.
Keep in mind that Google does not remove this page from its index. To remove a page from the index, you need to implement additional methods, such as the noindex meta tag. Otherwise, the page can automatically reappear in search results after six months.
in addition to, Google continues to crawl the removed pages. To block access, you need to add a disallow directive in your robots.txt file, which is a text file that specifies which pages search engine robots can and cannot crawl.
Clear cached URL
The Clear cached URL option removes the page description snippet in Google search results so that the page can be crawled again. Until then, the description snippet says, “No page description available.”
How to specify a URL in the URL removal tool
The temporary removal section enables you to remove:
- single URL,
- A group of URL pages with the same prefix.
When blocking an individual URL , you need Enter the exact URL which appears in search results – Variables such as example.com/page and example.com/Page are treated as two different URLs.
However, the URL removal tool affects all formats such as www/non-www and HTTP/HTTPS. for this reason You do not have to use this tool to specify the version of your URL that you want to appear in search results. If you want to remove only one version, you must use canonical header identification methods, such as the canonical tag (the HTML tag that identifies the home page when there is more than one version).
if you want block multiple URL pages, You need to specify their prefix. For example, if you specify “blog/”, all URL pages within that directory (blog/page1, blog/page2, etc.) will be removed.
You should be More careful when removing multiple URL pages at once To avoid accidental removal of a valuable page. Double check if there are any important prefix pages that you plan to remove and monitor for any potential drops in organic traffic after using the tool.
Record removal requests
You can see a history of removal requests you’ve made over the past six months. Shows you the type, date, and current status of your order.
Your request can have one of the following five statuses:
- Processing request – Google usually takes up to a day to remove the URL.
- Request declined – Your request can be declined when the page is not indexed, or when another similar request is in progress.
- Order Canceled – You have canceled the order, and the page will appear in the search results again.
- Temporarily removed – Your request has been approved, and Google has removed the URL from search results.
- Removal expired – Your request has expired, and the page can appear in search results again.
- Clear – Google has cleared the cached URL.
How to cancel the order
Six months after submitting the application, the page should automatically appear in the search results.
However, the URL removal tool allows you to cancel an earlier request. To do this, you need:
- Open the Temporary Remove URL section.
- Click the menu button next to the order you want to cancel.
- Select the “Cancel Order” option.
And that’s it! The page should appear in Google search again soon.
However, there is no official information about how long it takes for Google to cancel the order. In one of his tweets, John Mueller mentioned that requests are “processed very quickly.”
I decided to check out what exactly “very quickly” meant.
To test how long it takes to cancel an order, I performed the following steps:
- I used the Remove URL Pages tool to remove three pages from the search results.
- You’ve been waiting for Google to remove these pages from your search results.
- After Google approved my requests, I used the “Cancel Request” option and watched how long it took to process it.
It turned out that all 3 pages were back in the search results in less than 4 hours!
How to make removal permanent
The URL removal tool provides only a temporary solution. To permanently remove a URL, you can:
Add a noindex meta tag
The noindex meta tag indicates that you do not want a specific page to be indexed. Search engine bots detect the noindex tag while crawling the page, and if they respect it, they won’t index it. The page will still be available on your website to both search engine bots and users but will not appear in search results.
Find out more about the noindex tag in this article.
HTTP status code setting 404/410
Setting a Not Found HTTP status code (404) or 410 (gold) removes a page from your site. As a result, users of search engine bots and users will not be able to access your page.
Add a password
Search engine bots cannot access a page if it is password protected. It’s a good solution if you want to secure sensitive information on your page.
Old content section
The Outdated Content section shows you when someone has reported your content as outdated through Old content removal tool.
Google recommends using the Remove Outdated Content tool If the page does not exist or the owner removes the important content. Google users can request one of two types of removal:
- Remove old page – used when the page no longer exists. If the request is successful, Google will remove the page from its index.
- Remove Old Cache – Used when the page exists, but some content has been removed. If the request is successful, Google will not show the page for queries related to the removed content.
If someone reports your content as outdated, you can monitor the status of the request in the URL removal tool. There are seven possible statues:
- Approved – The user’s request was successful, and your page will either be removed from the index, or Google will no longer show it for queries about removed content.
- Disapproved: content is still on the page – Google will not take action against your page because the reported content is still on the page,
- Rejected: Outdated content is not in the index – The reported content is not in the indexed version. You may have already removed it, or the user entered incorrect content.
- Denied: Page not indexed – The page reported by the user is not indexed.
- Disapproved: The page has not been removed – the page reported by the user still exists.
- Rejected: A duplicate request – the same request is already being processed.
- Rejected: Unspecified – The user’s request was rejected for other, unspecified reasons.
You cannot take any actions directly in the URL removal tool to stop the process. However, it is still worth keeping an eye on the requests. If some of your content is already out of date, you can take action, for example, to update it or remove it from your website.
SafeSearch filter section
Users with the SafeSearch filter don’t see adult-only pages. However, if they think that some pages have made it through the filter, they can report it to Facebook SafeSearch suggestion tool.
In the SafeSearch Filter section, you can see the history of requests made by users and the status of each request:
- processing request – Google is processing the request,
- Order canceled – Users canceled the order on their own,
- Request denied – Google has decided not to consider the content as adult-only,
- Filtered – Google has accepted the request and will not show the page to users using the SafeSearch filter.
If the request is approved, but you think it is incorrect, you can report it to Webmaster Forum.
I hope that after reading the article, you will know how and when to use the URL removal tool. Here are the main points to keep in mind while using the tool:
- The URL removal tool does not index the page. It only removes it from Google search results for six months.
- Google continues to crawl pages that have been removed using the URL removal tool. If you want to prevent it from crawling, you need to disallow crawling in robots.txt,
- The URL removal tool removes both the www/non-www and HTTP/HTTPS versions from search results.
- To permanently remove a page, you need to implement additional methods, for example, noindex meta tag, HTTP status code 404/410, add a password,
- If you need to remove more than one URL, double-check all URL pages that will be affected to prevent an important page from being removed by mistake.
- Regular monitoring of outdated content and SafeSearch filter sections allows you to take quick action if any of your pages are reported (for example, update your content or flag it if you think a request is incorrect).