Google's Guide to URL Removal

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Following on from my news story on the main site this morning about the Google Government Requests tool, I stumbled across a series of posts entitled 'URL removal explained', in which the Google Webmaster blog has been educating users on how to request content removal. As Susan Moskwa, one of Google's Webmaster Trends Analysts, wisely states: "There's a lot of content on the Internet these days. At some point, something may turn up online that you would rather not have out there."

While it might suit some to have the offending content deleted and wait for it to naturally disappear from searches, Google acknowledges that there may be occasions when it’s necessary to remove something a little quicker. Enter the Webmaster Central Blog and its Handy Guide to Expidated Content Removal.

Removal of content you don't own

In 'episode 3', the blog tackles the specific problem of requesting the removal of content that doesn’t belong to you. Where the verified URL removal tool may be used when you can prove yourself the verified owner of the content, the public URL removal tool steps in when this is not the case.

The first step in such circumstances, Google suggests, is to contact the owner of the site and ask them to block Google from crawling the URL or delete the page completely. When this has been achieved, the Public URL tool can be used to remove content through the ‘Webmaster has already blocked the page’ option.

If you suspect that the webmaster in question is being less than honest when they claim to have removed the content, Google advises checking their robots.txt file to see if the page has been disallowed, the page’s HTML source code to look for a meta noindex tag and finally making use of an add-on like Firefox’s Live HTTP Headers to double check the HTTP response to the URL. When you are sure the content is gone, you can request a cache removal.

Lastly the tool offers an option for removing any inappropriate content which has made it through SafeSearch. If a user comes across anything they feel should not be listed while using the filter, Google provides a SafeSearch option for removal requests to be submitted.