Here is why you should ask Google to recrawl your website URLs, and what to do if you want to remove pages from Google’s indexed search results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the cornerstone of driving organic traffic to your website, and staying up-to-date with the latest SEO techniques is crucial. One often overlooked aspect of SEO is the process of asking Google to recrawl your website.
In this article, we will explore the importance of recrawling and why it should be a regular part of your SEO strategy.
What is Website Recrawling?
Before we delve into the “why,” let’s first understand the “what.” Website recrawling is the process of inviting search engines, such as Google, to revisit and reevaluate the content on your website.
When Googlebot, the search engine’s web crawling bot, revisits your site, it analyzes the changes you’ve made, updates its index accordingly, and considers these changes in search engine rankings.
Keeping Your Content Fresh
One of the most compelling reasons to ask Google to recrawl your website is to keep your content fresh and up-to-date. The internet is a dynamic place, with new information emerging every second. To stay relevant in search results, it’s important to ensure that your content is current and accurate.
Imagine you run a technology blog, and you recently published a comprehensive guide on the latest smartphone models. As new phones are released and updates roll out, your guide can quickly become outdated.
By regularly requesting Google to recrawl your website, you can keep your smartphone guide up-to-date, ensuring that your readers receive the latest information. This not only improves your site’s credibility, but also enhances the user experience, ultimately boosting your SEO rankings.
Fixing Errors and Issues
No website is perfect, and over time, errors and issues can creep in. These issues may include broken links, missing images, or outdated information. When Googlebot encounters such issues during its initial crawl, it can negatively impact your site’s ranking. However, by requesting a recrawl, you give yourself the opportunity to fix these issues and regain lost ground.
Additionally, website technology and SEO best practices evolve. What was considered a best practice a few years ago may no longer be effective or may even harm your site’s ranking today. Regular recrawling allows you to adapt to these changes, ensuring that your website is in compliance with current SEO standards and practices.
Speeding Up Indexation
When you add new content or make significant updates to your website, waiting for Google to naturally discover and index these changes can be a slow and unpredictable process. By asking Google to recrawl your site, you can expedite the indexation of new content. This is especially crucial if you’re running time-sensitive promotions or have breaking news to share.
Speeding up indexation not only ensures that your audience sees your latest content sooner than later, but it also helps in improving your website’s ranking. Google prioritizes fresh and relevant content, and by recrawling your site, you signal to the search engine that your content is worth indexing promptly.
Recovering from Penalties
If your website has ever been penalized by Google for violating its guidelines, requesting a recrawl is an essential step towards recovery. Google may penalize websites for various reasons, such as spammy content, unnatural backlinks, or other black-hat SEO practices.
Once you’ve addressed the issues that led to the penalty, requesting a recrawl is the first step towards regaining your website’s lost ranking and visibility.
Monitoring Changes and Experimentation
SEO is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing process. To determine what strategies are working and what needs improvement, you need to monitor changes and experiment with different approaches. Recrawling can help you track the impact of your SEO efforts in real-time.
For example, you might decide to change the meta titles and descriptions of your product pages to see if it improves click-through rates from search engine results pages (SERPs). By requesting Google to recrawl these specific pages after making the changes, you can quickly assess whether your optimizations are effective and make adjustments accordingly.
How to Ask Google to Recrawl Your Website
Now that you understand why recrawling is essential, let’s briefly discuss how to request Google to recrawl your website. Google offers a straightforward process through its Search Console:
- Verify Ownership: Ensure that you have verified ownership of your website in Google Search Console. If you haven’t done so, follow the verification process, which typically involves adding a verification code to your website or using domain properties.
- Submit a Sitemap: A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website. Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console can help the search engine discover and index your pages more efficiently.
- Fetch as Google: Use the “Fetch as Google” tool to request a recrawl of specific pages or your entire website. You can also request indexing for specific URL changes if you’ve made updates to individual pages.
- Monitor the Status: Keep an eye on the status of your recrawl requests within Google Search Console. Google will provide feedback on whether the request was successful and whether any issues were encountered during the process.
How to Remove a Page from Google Index
Now, what if you have the reverse problem? Instead of wanting to have your pages crawled and indexed, you have a page or two that you want to remove from Google’s indexed results.
Whether it’s outdated content, sensitive information, a deleted page, or a page that no longer serves its purpose, it’s important to understand the process of de-indexing a page from Google’s search results. Here are 9 steps for removing a page from Google’s search results.
1. Assess the Page
Before jumping into action, take a moment to evaluate the page you want to remove from Google’s index. Is it truly necessary to de-index it, or can the issue be resolved through other means, such as updating the content or implementing a “noindex” tag (we’ll discuss this later)? Confirm that removing the page is the best course of action.
2. Verify Ownership
To request the removal of a page from Google’s index, you need to verify your ownership of the website where the page resides. This is typically done through Google Search Console, a free tool provided by Google for webmasters. If you haven’t already verified your website, follow the verification process.
3. Update the Page
Before taking the drastic step of removing a page from Google’s index, consider if the page’s issues can be resolved by updating its content. If the information is outdated or problematic, refresh it with relevant and accurate content. This approach not only maintains your online presence but also improves your site’s overall user experience.
4. Implement a “Noindex” Tag
If you have pages that you don’t want Google to index, the most efficient and least disruptive method is to use the “noindex” meta tag. By adding this tag to the HTML code of the page, you instruct search engines not to index or rank the page.
To implement the “noindex” tag, follow these steps:
- Access the HTML code of the page.
- Locate the
<head>section of the HTML.
- Insert the following line within the
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">.
After making this change, Google will gradually remove the page from its index, but keep in mind that it may take some time for the de-indexing to complete.
5. Block Search Engine Crawlers
Another effective way to remove a page from Google’s index is by blocking search engine crawlers through the robots.txt file. However, this approach comes with some caveats:
- It prevents indexing of the page but does not guarantee immediate removal.
- The page remains accessible to users who have the direct URL.
- Be cautious when using this method, as it affects all search engines, not just Google.
To block search engine crawlers, follow these steps:
- Access your website’s root directory via FTP or your web hosting control panel.
- Locate the
robots.txtfile (or create one if it doesn’t exist).
- Add the following line to the
robots.txtfile to disallow all crawlers:
User-agent: * Disallow: /path-to-page/.
/path-to-page/ with the actual path to the page you want to remove from indexing.
6. Remove the Page Content
If the page in question is no longer relevant and you want it gone from your website entirely, you can consider deleting the page’s content. However, this should be done carefully, as removing content may affect user experience and potentially harm your website’s SEO if it disrupts the site’s structure.
Before deleting any content, create a backup of the page or, better yet, create a 301 redirect to a more relevant or appropriate page on your website. This way, users who land on the deleted page will be redirected to a related page, maintaining a positive user experience.
7. Request Removal Through Google Search Console
If you’ve exhausted all other options and still need to remove a page from Google’s index, you can request removal directly through Google Search Console. Follow these steps:
- Log in to your Google Search Console account.
- Select the property (website) where the page is located.
- Navigate to the “Removals” section in the left-hand menu.
- Click on “New Request.”
- Enter the URL of the page you want to remove.
- Choose the appropriate removal method: “Temporary Removal” or “Outdated Content.”
- Click “Next” and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the request.
Please note that Google may take some time to process your removal request, and there’s no guarantee of immediate removal. Additionally, this method is intended for pages that you want to temporarily hide from search results or pages that contain sensitive information.
8. Monitor the De-Indexing Process
Once you’ve initiated the removal request, regularly monitor your Google Search Console account for updates on the status of the removal. Google will provide information on whether the request was successful and when the page is expected to be removed from the index.
9. Consider Redirects
If you’ve removed a page from your website that previously had valuable content or received traffic, consider setting up 301 redirects to guide users and search engines to related or alternative pages on your site. This helps preserve your website’s overall structure and user experience.
By following these steps, you can effectively manage your online presence while maintaining control over what appears in Google’s search results.
Asking Google to recrawl your website is not just a technical task but a strategic move that can significantly impact your site’s rankings. It allows you to keep your content fresh, fix errors and issues, speed up indexation, recover from penalties, and monitor the impact of your SEO efforts.
Staying proactive with recrawling is important to ensuring that your website remains competitive in search engine rankings and delivers the best possible user experience.
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