How to Remove a Page from Google Effectively (2017)

Rick Talbot
by Rick Talbot
on
Office Manager
Tagged in: SEO
3 minutes
  • Webmaster tools, robots.txt, meta robots, nofollow. What is the best way to remove a page from Google and keep it that way?

    It’s an issues as old as the search engines, and one of the simplest most confused topics around, causing arguments between developers and SEO’s the world over.

    Speak to an old school developer and some will confidently tell you that no-following or disallowing the page in robots.txt is the best way. 

    Despite the confusion, it is pretty straight forward. Take a look at how to easily remove a single page from the search results below.

    First, let’s clear up what everything actually does. (If you already know all this, jump to the last section ‘But how do I actually remove a page?’).

    Robots.txt

    What is Robots.txt?

    The robots file allows you to control where the crawlers go on your site. The fancy name for this is the ‘Robots Exclusion Protocol’ and it lets you specify which parts of your site shouldn’t be seen or processed.

    While there are directives that allow you to no-index a page in the robots file - there has been mixed messaging from Google about whether they want you to do this.

    Verdict: Do not use the robots.txt file to remove a page. It is not an effective way to remove an existing page from the index

    Webmaster Tools URL removal tool (Search Console)

    What is the URL removal tool?

    Google’s search console is a treasure trove of useful tools and insights into your website, everyone who owns a site should have it.

    The removal tool allows you to temporarily remove a page from the index.

    Verdict: Effective in the Short term – however, to keep the page from being re-indexed… keep readin’

    Meta Robots Noindex

    What is the Meta Robots Noindex meta tag?

    This is a HTML tag that you can add to any page that will tell Google not to index the page. And is written as follows:

                    <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX">

    Verdict: Effective long term. This will keep your page from being indexed by the search engines if applied correctly

    Nofollow

    What is nofollow?

    Depending on the context and where the nofollow directive is added. It can mean two things. It is either applied to individual links with the rel=”nofollow” attribute, or it can be applied in a meta robots directive <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOFOLLOW"> which tells Google not to follow any of the links on the page you’ve added it to.

    Verdict: no, do not use this to remove an existing page from the index

    But how do I actually remove a page?

     So, now we have all this information. 

      • Firstly, if you do not have webmaster tools verified. Go do that, then come back.

      • Secondly, you need to have access to the HTML of individual pages on your website.

        If you are using a CMS like WordPress; install the Yoast plugin and then follow these instructions. If you are using another content management system, search ‘*your CMS* noindex a page’. e.g. ‘Drupal noindex a page

        If you are not using Wordpress or another content management system and you have access to the HTML of your pages. You need to add the following code between the <HEAD> tags of the offending page.
        <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX">

      • Thirdly, go to your verified Webmaster Tools (Search Console) property and navigate to the ‘Google Index’ dropdown and then the ‘Remove URLs’ section. Paste the URL that you want to remove in there (which should hopefully have the newly added meta robots tag on it) and Robert's your fathers brother. Your page should be removed for good!

    *Thugnotes

    Make sure not to block(disallow) the page with robots.txt, as Google will not be able to 'see' the noindex directive, and you will end up with the following message in the search results where your meta description should be ‘A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt’. Then you can shout at your developer and say ‘see, I told you Simon.'

    If you are having issues with this or you have a more complex indexing problem that you need help with. Get in touch and we can help you. 

     

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