You’ve got content that you want to remove from Google & Bing search results, but you’ve got no idea how to do that? Here’s a step by step guide to removing your content and URLs from search results.
First, remove the content from search engine visibility
The first step to getting your content removed from a search engine is to make it invisible to search engines. There are a few ways this can happen:
- the content & URL itself are removed
- you set the page to no-index for search engines
- you 301 redirect the page
Let’s look at these situations in more detail.
The content & URL are removed
The website had a page that has now been deleted (perhaps it had content that was no longer useful). This is a common situation, although if your page has been around for a while there are likely other pages out there on the internet linking to your page. If that is the case you should consider making a 301 redirect for this page.
You set the page to no-index for search engines
Let’s say you want to have a page which is a thank you for filling out a form. You don’t really want search engines to index this page since it doesn’t have useful content to the general public. However, the page needs to be publicly accessible so that people who fill out your forms can be thanked. Thank you pages are also common for tracking goal conversions in Google Analytics.
You can set this page to a have a “no-index” tag on it. This is typically done through a tool like Yoast SEO for WordPress or through your robots.txt file or by manually adding a meta tag to your header.
You 301 Redirect the page
If you have removed the content and replaced it with something better, or if you’ve changed your URL, or if your content has been around for a while, then you should 301 redirect your URL. This can be done by using the Redirection plugin for WordPress or by editing your .htaccess file for Linux web servers.
You own the content you want to remove
If you own the content — for example, it’s on a website you own — then you can use your Webmaster Tools to remove your content. If you don’t have your site setup for webmaster tools, then take a look at Google Website Submission & Webmaster Tools Setup and Bing Website Submission & Webmaster Tools.
Google Search Console Remove URLs tool
Go to your Google Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster Tools) and select your property and then Google Index and then Removal URLs, or just click here and then select your property.
From here you will be able to Temporarily hide URLs. Just click on Temporarily hide and then enter your URL. The content will be removed from Google’s search results.
This will work even if the content is currently available and reachable on the web. A good example of how this could be useful is if you published a page and then realized that it needed some more updates before you wanted people arriving at it. You can allow people back to this page later by just revisiting the search console.
Here you can select whether you want to block a directory (for example you are removing a whole grouping of URLs) or an individual page. Then enter your directory URL or page URL and click on block URLs and cache.
Again, here you have control over the blocking and the content does not have to be removed from search engine visibility. You can end or extend the block as you see fit.
You don’t own the content
If you don’t own the content, or you don’t have webmaster tools set up for your website, then you can use the content removal tool option.
Google remove outdated content tool
Start by going to Google’s remove outdated content tool.
If you aren’t currently signed in with a google account, you’ll need to sign in. The purpose of signing in is so that you can track your removal requests.
Enter the URL into the URL box and then click on Request Removal.
Google will analyze the URL and either confirm that the content no longer exists, or tell you that Google can still reach the content. If Google can still reach the content, then you’ll need to go back to the steps above to remove your content visibility by search engines (see steps above).
If you see the below saying that your content is gone, then just click on Request Removal.
Once you click on Request Removal the URL will show up in your list as pending. It normally will switch to removed within 24 hours.
Bing content removal tool
Start by going to Bing’s content removal tool.
Just like Google’s tool you have to sign in with a Bing account.
Enter your URL into the Content URL box and then click on Submit.
If you receive the following error message, then your submission has failed:
We could not verify that the URL is no longer live on the web or outdated. Please check the URL for errors or try again later. Your request will not be submitted.
It’s important to note that Bing is much more problematic to removal URLs from than Google. Requests which go through without any problem on Google may fail on Bing. For example, if your domain no longer exists, Google will remove your URL without any issues, Bing, however, will refuse to do it.
If you can’t get Bing to remove your URL, then I recommend setting it up as a 301 redirect by following this tutorial or getting your site verified with Bing and using the steps in the previous section for if you own the content.
If Bing does agree to removal your URL, then it will typically happen within 24 hours. You can come back to this page in a day to check on the removal status.