Q: I need a bit of ‘straightening out’ on an issue concerning the removal of pages from Google. A friend of mine told me instead of removing the pages themselves, that I could simply remove the link from the homepage – that way the search engines won’t find it and won’t relist in in their results.
How effective is this? The page needs to remain on the site but not be found by the engines, is the removal of a link going to solve the problem?
A: Removing links to a page is sometimes called “orphaning” that page on your site. It’s possible that an orphaned page will eventually drop very far down in ranks and essentially become invisible in search engines.
But, there are much better ways to remove a page from search engine indexing: just tell the search engine you don’t want the page indexed! Here are two ways to do this:
- place a robots tag in the <head> of the page that looks like this: <meta name=”robots” content =”noindex”>. See our robots tag page for more information about this useful tag.
- create a robots.txt file, a simple text file in the root location of your domain, and list the files you want excluded. See this link for robots.txt instructions.
To add even more certainty to your efforts, you can request that the page be removed from Google’s index from within Google Webmaster Tools. Click on “crawler access” in the Google Webmaster Tools navigation, then click on the “Remove URL” tab.
The above methods should work like a charm – at least, in the major, “legit” search engines. Truth is, there’s no way to guarantee that a publicly accessible webpage won’t find its way into search engines elsewhere on the web. If you really don’t want a page to be shown on any other site, placing it behind a password is the only way to be sure.