Google’s John Mueller answered a tweet about the URL Removal Tool and why it wasn’t working how it was expected to. The question was in the context of a site that was hacked and generated Japanese spam pages.
Google Search Results Show Hacked Pages
One of the most frustrating things to happen to a site is to get hacked. The frustration is compounded when Google shows non-existent spam URLs in the search results.
That scenario is exactly what the person who asked the question was dealing with. They tried using Google’s URL Removal Tool but it seemed to not have the expected and desired effect.
According to the person asking the question:
“A website gets attacked “Japanese Spam”, the owner cleans the code, optimizes and secures the website but search results will take their own time to offer neat results.”
They next described the problem:
“Even after removing URL’S from SERP through Search console, the URL’s tend to come back to the search results or remain in index though as 404 pages.
Why is Google getting those 404 pages back in index after removing them?”
Even after removing URL'S from SERP through Search console, the URL's tend to come back to the search results or remain in index though as 404 pages.
Why is Google getting those 404 pages back in index after removing them?
— DigitalSearch (@DigitalSearchIN) January 5, 2021
How Google’s URL Removal Tool Works
The person asking the question was puzzled as to why the URLs remained in Google’s Search Index. It’s a common perception that using the URL Removal Tool will remove the URL from the SERPs and the index.
But that’s not what is actually happening.
John Mueller responded via Twitter:
“The URL removal tool in Search Console just temporarily hides pages from the search results, it doesn’t remove anything from the index.
Sometimes these pages take a while to be reindexed (& usually those are less-frequently shown in search anyway, so few people see it).”
The URL removal tool in Search Console just temporarily hides pages from the search results, it doesn't remove anything from the index. Sometimes these pages take a while to be reindexed (& usually those are less-frequently shown in search anyway, so few people see it).
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 5, 2021
Google Search Console Help: URL Removals Tool
Google’s Webmaster Support page for the URL Removals Tool very clearly says that the tool results in a temporary removal. The word “temporarily” is used eleven times on the page, making it clear that the effect is not permanent.
The page says:
“The Removals tool enables you to temporarily block pages from Google Search results on sites that you own.”
Further down the page it says that the tool is effective for stopping a URL from appearing in the search results.
“Follow this procedure to temporarily block a URL from appearing in Google Search results.”
In a way it’s a little confusing to call the tool a Removal Tool since the word “removal” has a sense of permanence.
The definition of the word “removal” is:
“The action of taking away or abolishing something unwanted.”
That definition does not make allowances for the temporariness of the removal.
But the fact is that the effect of the tool is only temporary.
Maybe Google should rename it from the URL Removals Tool to the Temporary URL Removals Tool?