Comprehensive Guide On Removing Links From Organic Results
If you want to remove a URL from Google, this step by step guide will take you through the process. In addition, you will learn several different methods to do this.
By the end of the article you should have:
- a firm understanding of how to remove a URL from the Google index
- why you might want to do this
- differences between the methods discussed
TIP: Removing irrelevant, dead, or damaging material from the web is crucial to maintaining any website. Doing so is an important part of maintaining the quality and integrity of your website and is an aspect of SEO best practices.
Why Remove A Link From Google?
Removing links from Google search results are done for a number of reasons. But before we go into that, let’s begin by discussing some of Google’s standards for individual webpages and how they should interact with a website. More on this can be found in this comprehensive document called Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
User intent is the motivation behind a search query. User intent can fall within a few categories:
Informational: informational search intent is when a user is looking for more information
Transactional: transactional search intent is categorized by when a user is looking for a particular product or service
Navigational: navigational intent is when a user is trying to reach a specific website or landing page
Generally speaking, you want the intent of your website to be clear to Google. Your ranking in SERPs are directly correlated with how closely you satisfy search intent. For this reason, it’s crucial that indexed pages of your website are in alignment with the visitors you would like to attract.
USER EXPERIENCE (UX)
Another important ranking factor closely related to user intent is UX. User experience is measured in different ways, but the goal is for your website and individual webpages to provide good UX to web visitors.
This can be measured in many different ways, including:
- bounce rates
- dwell time
- conversion rates
- social media signals
Providing good UX is a fundamental necessity for any website. Removing content that isn’t supportive of UX is necessary. You can read more about Google’s standards in this blog post here.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Often times, low quality or outdated content may remain visible to searchers for one reason or another. Additionally, media elements and templates that are assigned unique URLS could get stuffed into Google’s massive index when SEO settings aren’t properly configured.
Other pages, such as a company’s thank you page or a member’s only page, should also be excluded from the Google index. The reason for this is because these pages don’t support UX and could dilute SEO. This could lead to a decrease in ranking which would ultimately hurt your website.
Low Quality Content Impacts SEO
Low quality content can affect SEO in a negative way if and when it is linked to your website. Read more about what is SEO before moving forward.
If you have a bunch of pages that are indexed that shouldn’t be, it could be detrimental to UX and cause your website to lose a ranking position. This would be a terrible thing to happen, especially since it can be fixed so easily!
The solution to this is that you must remove the outdated link that is negatively impacting your website. So, let’s get right into all the methods you can use to do this!
How To Remove A URL From Google
There are two main ways that you can remove a link that has been indexed by Google. In addition to this, there are other ways you can remove a URL that we’ll touch upon as well.
Your Two Main Options:
- remove the link in Google Search Console
- use the robots meta element NOINDEX tag
In this comprehensive guide, you will learn both methods and we’ll discuss the other ways briefly. Hopefully you’ll be able to choose one method that is appropriate for your website.
Method 1: Removing A URL Using Google Search Console
Removing a URL using Google Search Console is relatively simple. Here are the steps for doing so.
- The first step is signing into your Google Search Console account. You will want to use the Gmail address that’s associated with your Google Search Console (GSC ) and the website with the URL that needs to be removed.
FIRST: Visit the GSC homepage and click the button that says “Start now”. This will take you to your user dashboard if you are already signed into the correct email account.
Google Search Console sign in web page
2. Next, you will want to view the sidebar you will see on the left side of the screen. You will notice a menu option that reads “Legacy tools and reports”. Click the dropdown arrow to the right of this menu option.
Once you have done this, you can scroll down a bit and choose the “Removals” option. You will be redirected to another page.
Image of left side bar where you will find Legacy tools and reports tab
3. Next, you will be taken to a page that says “Remove URLs” at the top of the webpage. You will notice a button a little below the top heading, slightly to the left side of the screen.
Click the button that says “Temporarily hide” to temporarily remove the links you want to remove. An input field will appear and you can enter the URLs for removal manually, one by one.
Note: You will notice a disclaimer right above the “Temporarily hide” button. It states that in order to remove any URL’s and content permanently, changes must be made to the source page. Don’t worry- we’ll talk about that next!
Input field to remove URLs with notice about permanently removing URLs (at the top of the page)
4. After requesting removal of all URLs, you must simply wait for them to be removed. You might notice that your list of pending URLs for deletion might look something like this (below):
Image of URLs pending removal
Give it a day or two and then you should see the status change to something like this:
Image of updated and removed URLs
Once you have manually entered all of the URL’s you want hidden from Google search results and waited the appropriate amount of time, you are set. You now know how to remove a link from Google using Google Search Console.
Method 2: NOINDEX In Robots Meta Tags
Using the noindex robots meta tags directive to remove a URL from Google is the ideal way to remove the URL but still allow Google to crawl the site. The tags can be placed in HTML code as well as HTTP response headers. You can add the meta robots noindex directive into a webpage in the following manner:
- The first step would be that you would add the noindex meta tag to the source code of the page you want removed from the Google index.
Inserting this line of code into the head section of a page will signal to Google that it should not be indexed:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
Doing that would look something like this:
Screenshot of source code with noindex meta tag
NOTE: If your site is on WordPress and you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, there is an easier way to do this without altering the code. I would recommend following these steps unless you are comfortable with HTML.
2 . Once Yoast is installed and activated on your website, go to the page you are deindexing and find Yoast. You can find this on the backend of the website. You will see an Advanced option. Pull down the drop-down arrow on the right side of the screen.
screenshot of Yoast advanced settings
3. You will be redirected to another page where you will see the advanced options. To noindex a page, you simply select “no” where it asks if you want search engines to show the page in search results.
Note: The second and third options you will see in Yoast Advanced settings (in the screenshot below) should be left as they are. If you want to know more about why, you can check out this article here.
Yoast SEO advanced settings to noindex a page
It’s as simple as that! But understand that the robots meta setting will 100% inhibit pages from being indexed. It’s important to first consider if this is best to ensure you’re making the right decision for your website.
A Few Other Methods To De-index Specific Webpages:
301 Redirect The URL To A Different Page
If you 301 redirect a webpage to another page, Google will eventually realize you don’t want that page crawled. What will happen is it will drop the page from the Google index. This method is an indirect method for removing URLs from Google, however it does work.
Tip: Use the Redirection plugin to manage all of your 301 redirects
Let Pages 404
Another thing you can do, which is probably not the best option, is to let the pages 404 naturally. However, if you are on any type of time constraints, this would not be the best solution.
Create Canonical Tags
You can create a canonical tag to tell search engines that there is another primary page or preferred URL to index. Although this works by placing a rel=”canonical” in theelement of the webpage, it’s not suggested to use this method.
As you can probably see, there are many creative ways to remove a URL from Google’s index. Understanding how to do this in different ways is certainly helpful. However, finding what works for you (and your website) is highly recommended!