Can you make a web page disappear from search results? Yes, if you have access to it.
You can make Google ignore a web page, making it "disappear" from search results, by adding a "noindex" meta tag to the HTML code of a single web page on your site.
If you don't have access to the site, someone does. The trick is getting them to do it. That's where negotiation for reputation repair may come in handy. We also suggest you understand the principles of persuasion first as well.
When Google crawls the page with the noindex tag on it the search engine will delete the page from search results. This method only works if you control the website and have access to the HTML code of a page.
It's not as scary as it sounds.
Note: This technique will not delete the page. The page will still exist on the site on which it is published, but it will no longer appear in Google search results. This method also works to remove a web page from most web crawlers like Yahoo and Bing.
You will need:
- You need to be able to log in as an admin on the site.
- You should understand what a "meta tag" is.
- These instructions are for a WordPress-based site.
How to insert a NoIndex tag into a WordPress page
WordPress powers 33% of all websites. To prevent most search engines from displaying a specific page of your website, put the following meta tag inside the head section of the page you want to make vanish from Google search results.
What is a "head" section of the HTML of a web page?
The head section of the webpage is where all the things that do not show on your page are placed. It's at the top of the HTML.
|Note: You don't need to know HTML to add a NoIndex tag. But you can see what your HTML looks like by right-clicking on any web page and clicking "View Page Source" or "View HTML". Again, you don't need to do this to insert a NoIndex tag - but you might find it interesting.|
Remember, once you place the NoIndex tag, the page will not disappear from your site - people can still read the page. It will simply not show in Google search results anymore. Here is the tag you will eventually use:
meta name="robots" content="noindex">
How to use NoIndex on a WordPress site
If you have a WordPress-based site, follow these steps:
- Go to your WordPress site's admin page and log in. This is usually something like http://example.com/wp-admin/
- Go to Plugins on the left sidebar and then add the Meta Tag Manager plugin
- After adding the plugin (and Activating it), go to Pages -> Example page and click Edit. (Note: "Example" could be the name of any page on your site you want to vanish from Google)
- Click "Add Meta Tag" on the page. It looks like this:
- Edit three fields, it should look like this when you are done:
- Now, update the page. The blue button to Update is usually in the upper right corner. It probably looks something like this:
- Once you have updated your page with the new "noindex" tag, check your work by going to the live page, clicking refresh in your browser, and right-clicking on the text to bring up the HTML. On a Mac, the option is "View Page Source". Near the top of the code you will see this:
- That's it! Only this page will be ignored by Google. You can always delete the tag by clicking the little trash icon next to the tag on the page later if you want and republishing. Doing so will immediately make the page searchable by Google again.
How long will it take for the page to disappear from search results?
It usually only takes a few days, but we've seen it take weeks. If you want to get a web page on your site removed from Google more quickly, follow the steps below.
Last step: Speed up removal of a page from Google
One way to expedite the removal of the page from Google is to use a tool once known as "Fetch as Google" but now known as the "URL Inspector Tool". Once you have added the NoIndex tag to the page (see above) use the URL Inspector Tool to do this:
- Click URL inspection in the navigation panel of Search Console:
- Enter the complete URL to inspect.
- Click the Return key (Enter)
Google will now crawl that page, see the NoIndex tag, and begin removing that page from its index. We've seen pages deleted from Google using this method in as little as a few hours.
Content Removal FAQs
Can you make a web page disappear from search results?
Making a web page disappear from search results is difficult, but not impossible. If you have access to it, you can delete it. Sometimes you can convince the owner to delete it. If that doesn't work, you can suppress it by creating high-ranking positive content to push it off of Google's first page.
What is a NOINDEX tag?
A NOINDEX tag is a meta tag that tells Google to ignore a web page, making it disappear from search results. When Google crawls the page with the NOINDEX tag on it the search engine will delete the page from search results.
How long does it take for a page to disappear from search results?
It usually only takes a few days, but it takes weeks.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.