When analyzing your website’s search rankings in Google Search Console, you may notice a new tool under the “Index” tab. Known as the URL removal tool, it allows webmasters to submit URL removal requests as well as monitor third-party requests. Being that you can just delete unwanted pages from your website, though, you might be wondering what purpose, if any, the new URL removal tool serves.
What Is the URL Removal Tool?
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In January 2020, Google quietly updated its Search Console platform by adding a new and improved URL removal tool. Not to be confused with the disavow tool, it allows you to temporarily remove one or more of your website’s URLs from the search results.
If you don’t want a page to appear in Google’s search results, you can ask Google to block it. It’s not a permanent solution. Rather, Google will only block the page for about six months, after which Google will add it back to the search results.
You can also use the URL removal tool to monitor outdated content and SafeSearch removal requests submitted by other users. Outdated content refers to organic listings with content that’s no longer found on your website. If you deleted a section of text from a page on your website but the text is still showing in a listing’s description, a user may ask Google to remove it, in which case you’ll see the user’s request in Google Search Console.
Even if Google sides with the user after reviewing his or her outdated content request, Google won’t remove your page’s listing. Instead, Google will clear the cached listing, meaning any text in the description that’s no longer found on the page will be deleted and replaced with other text present on the page.
SafeSearch, on the other hand, refers to Google’s proprietary filtering technology for adult content and offensive content. While it’s primarily powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Google allows users to manually flag pages for SafeSearch. If a user believes a page on your website has adult content or offensive content, he or she may report it to Google.
Like with outdated content requests, Google won’t remove your website’s listings just because they’ve been reported for having adult content or offensive content. Google will first review the reported page, and if it identifies inappropriate content, it will add the page to the SafeSearch database. Once added, the page will only appear in the search results for Google users with SafeSearch turned off. Regardless, you can monitor all third-party requests involving outdated content and SafeSearch using the URL removal tool in Google Search Console.
It’s important to note that other users can only submit outdated content and SafeSearch requests. They can’t ask Google to temporarily remove any of your website’s pages from the search results using the URL removal tool. As a result, you don’t have to worry about nefarious users wiping your website’s pages from the search results.
How to Access the URL Removal Tool?
To access the URL removal tool, log in to Google Search Console and click the “Removals” tab under the “Index” menu. You will then see three options: “Temporary Removals,” “Outdated Content” and “SafeSearch Filtering.” Alternatively, you can access the URL removal tool directly by visiting search.google.com/search-console/removals.
If you want to temporarily remove a page on your website from the search results, you can click the red “New Request” button under “Temporary Removals” to get started. In the new window, enter the URL of the page that you want Google to temporarily remove, followed by “Next”. After verifying the URL on the next screen, click “Submit Request”.
Rinse and repeat these steps for all the pages on your website that you want to temporarily remove from Google’s search results. Once Google processes your requests — it typically takes less than 48 hours — it will remove the pages from the search results for about six months.
If you want to monitor third-party requests for outdated content or SafeSearch involving your website, click the “Outdated Content” or “SafeSearch Filtering” tab in the URL removal tool. Hopefully, you won’t see any requests in either of these tabs. If any users have reported your website for having outdated content or inappropriate content, though, you can monitor their requests here.
How to Use the URL Removal Tool?
The URL removal tool can be used in several ways. If you manage an e-commerce store, for instance, you may want to use it to prevent pages for discontinued products from showing in the search results. If you’ve stopped selling a product on your website, allowing the product page to appear in Google’s search results won’t drive any new sales. Therefore, you should remove it from the search results using the URL removal tool.
You can also use the URL removal tool to quickly remove deleted pages from Google’s search results. Maybe you moved a page’s content to a different URL, or perhaps you deleted a page of low-quality content. When you delete a page from your website, Google may continue to show listings for that page in the search results.
It can take weeks or even months for Google to remove a deleted page from its search results. The URL removal tool, however, offers a faster solution. Google will process most requests within 48 hours, at which the page will no longer appear in the search results.
In addition to pages, you can use the URL removal tool to remove images from the search results. Google Images, of course, is a search engine specifically for images. You’ll typically want your website’s images to appear in Google Images because it translates into more traffic. But if you delete an image from your website, you should consider removing it via the URL removal tool.
Google is constantly expanding its suite of free-to-use webmaster tools in Search Console. One of the latest tools to hit Search Console is the URL removal tool. It allows you to remove pages on your website from Google’s search results for a period of about six months while also monitoring third-party requests for outdated content and SafeSearch.
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Last Updated in May 2022 by Lukasz Zelezny