You can make Google ignore a web page, thereby making it “disappear” from search results, by adding a “noindex" meta tag to the HTML code of a single web page on your site.

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 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.

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 disappear from Google search results.

Remember: the page will not disappear from your site – people can still read the page. It will simply not show in Google search results. Here is the tag:

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

For example, if you have a WordPress based site, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your WordPress site’s admin page and login. This is usually something like http://example.com/wp-admin/
  2. Go to Plugins on the left sidebar and then add the Meta Tag Manager plugin
  3. 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)
  4. Click “Add Meta Tag” on the page. It looks like this:
  5. Edit three fields, it should look like this when you are done:
    meta-tag-options
  6. Now, update the page. The blue button to Update is usually in the upper right corner. It probably looks something like this:
    update-button-example
  7. Once you have updated your page with the new “noindex” tag, check your work by going to the live page, click refresh in your browser, and right-click 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:
    noindex-example
  8. That’s it! This page, not your entire site, will now be ignored by Google. You can always go back and delete the tag by clicking the little trash icon next to the tag on the page later if you want. Doing so will make the page searchable by Google again.

Verification Process: Confirming Google’s Re-crawling

Once you’ve implemented the “noindex” tag on your webpage, it’s crucial to verify whether Google has re-crawled and removed the page from its search results.

This can be done using Google Search Console, a free tool that provides insights into how Google views your site.

Here’s how you can use it to confirm the re-crawling process:

  • Access Google Search Console: First, sign in to your Google Search Console account. If you haven’t set up your site here yet, you’ll need to add and verify your site.
  • URL Inspection Tool: Use the URL Inspection tool to request indexing for the page you’ve updated with the noindex tag. This can speed up the re-crawling process.
  • Monitor the Status: After requesting re-indexing, regularly check the URL Inspection tool. It will update you once Google has processed the page.

Remember, the time taken for Google to re-crawl and remove a page from its index can vary, so patience is key.

Alternative Methods for Page Removal

Besides the noindex tag, there are other methods to prevent search engines from displaying your web pages. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Using Robots.txt: The robots.txt file instructs search engine crawlers about the pages you don’t want them to index. However, if the page is already indexed, robots.txt won’t remove it from search results. It’s more of a preventive measure.
  • Password Protection: For pages containing sensitive information, adding password protection ensures that both users and search engines cannot access the content without proper authentication. This is an effective way to maintain privacy and security.

Top 5 Tips for

1. Timeframe Expectations

Setting realistic expectations regarding the timeframe for Google re-crawling and updating its index is essential. Typically, it can take several days to a few weeks for Google to re-crawl a site and reflect changes in the search results. Monitoring progress through Google Search Console is the best way to track this.

2. Impact on SEO

Using a noindex tag can significantly impact your site’s SEO. While it’s a powerful tool for removing content from search results, indiscriminate use can affect your site’s overall visibility on search engines.

Balance is key – ensure you’re only using the tag on pages that genuinely need to be hidden from public view.

3. Tag Variations and Advanced Options

In addition to the basic noindex tag, understanding variations like “nofollow” can be beneficial. These tags instruct search engines on how to treat links on your page, which can influence your site’s SEO.

For non-HTML files like PDFs, the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header is a more suitable choice.

4. Handling Third-party Content

If the content you wish to remove is on a site you don’t control, your approach changes. You can request the site owner to remove the content or use a noindex tag. If the content violates Google’s policies, submitting a legal removal request is another pathway.

5. Regular Website Audits

Conducting regular audits of your website ensures that noindex tags are used correctly and that important content isn’t accidentally hidden from search engines.

This practice is crucial for maintaining your site’s health and its visibility to search engines.

Conclusion

In wrapping up, it’s clear that making content disappear from Google requires a combination of technical know-how, strategic planning, and patience.

Whether you’re applying the “noindex” tag, using alternative methods like robots.txt, or navigating the removal of third-party content, each approach demands careful consideration and execution.

Regular website audits play a critical role in maintaining the balance between privacy, content control, and SEO impact.

Ultimately, the digital world is ever-evolving, and staying informed about these strategies ensures that you can effectively manage your online presence.