Removal, De-Indexing, Suppression. What's the Difference?

6 minute read

Removal, De-Indexing, Suppression. What's the Difference?

There are many ways to remove content from search results. Sometimes it can simply be removed entirely from the publishers site. Other times it can be removed from search results but not from the publisher. In still other cases it can be suppressed - which is to reduce the visibility of negative online content. This article touches on each technique. 


Search results can be removed, or they can seem to be removed. When a search result is removed it is often because the article itself has actually been removed from the source. But there are ways to remove search results from Google and still leave the result on the original web page, this is called NoIndexing

Delete the web page completely

True "removal" removes the whole page. It's deleted by the webmaster. This is the most effective way to make search results disappear because search engines will come by, discover the page is gone, and automatically delete the search result. This has to be done by the publisher (usually the webmaster). 

Leave the page -but add a NoIndex tag

The NoIndex tag is the online equivalent of painting lambs blood on your door. NoIndexing is when a webmaster adds a tag to a page without taking it down. Instead of removing the page, they simply add a tag to it. That way the page can still be read by people using the site, but doesn't show up in search. The tag goes in the HEAD area of the HTML code and looks like this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

This small but powerful tag makes a search engine pass over a web page and ignore it.

Add a NoIndex tag to the robots.txt file

If you're going to use a NoIndex tag to make a page disappear from search results you must use it on the page, and not in your robots.txt file. As of September 1st, Google will have done away with the use of the tag in that location. This apparently doesn't apply to the page-specific version as mentioned above. Here is Google's official page about how to use NoIndex: 

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Remove search phrases from the content

If a webmaster is willing to remove search phrases the page may disappear from search results, or simply fall back to where it is seldom if ever seen. This is because it becomes "less relevant". It is still possible for it to rank for a specific search phrase though. Googles artificial intelligence system RankBrain, a part of the Hummingbird algorithm, may still find a page relevant even if it doesn't have the exact search term on the page. 

De-indexing from search results

De-indexing Google or Bing results is the internet equivalent of removing your house from all maps.

De-indexing is different than NoIndex tags. With de-indexing the site is removed from the search engine index, but not from the source web page. Both NoIndexing and DeIndexing have the same effect though - both remove search results from Google or Bing (or Yahoo).

Whereas NoIndex is done by the publisher on their site, de-indexing is removal of the site from Google or Bing search results and is done directly with the search engine. In the case of de-indexing, the publisher is not directly contacted. 

De-indexing, or removal from the search index, can only be accomplished when the content in question is in violation of a given search engine's terms of service. 

Search result suppression

Suppression pushes search results down, "replacing" them with better more relevant ones. Using the map metaphor we used earlier, it is search engine suppression is akin to moving your entire house much further from the road and obfuscating its address.

When someone performs a search online for your brand name, or your own name, the negative search result is buried so deep it is seldom if ever seen.

How search engine suppression is accomplished

During a suppression campaign online reputation companies manage the development of very specific web properties common to similar entities (people, brands, etc.). For example, Doctors and Dentists tend to return search results very different from Attorneys. Reputation firms design web development and content plans to fill gaps in search. Then apply search marketing techniques to promote the right search results. 

You can learn more about search engine suppression here


Content removal FAQs

What is content removal?

Content removal involves removing negative content at the source. This includes deleting the page completely, adding a NOINDEX tag to hide the page from Google search results, and removing search phrases to make the article less relevant.

What is De-Indexing?

De-indexing removes the site from the search engine index, but not from the source web page. This means that the content still exists, but it will be difficult for someone to find the page in search results.

What is content suppression?

Content suppression is the act of pushing search results down in rank by replacing them with more relevant, positive content. Content suppression can be very effective at improving your search results if you have negative content on Google's first page.