Google’s John Mueller addressed 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 created Japanese spam pages.
Perhaps the most disappointing 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 situation is actually what the individual who asked the question was dealing with. They tried using Google’s URL Removal Tool but it appeared 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?”
The person asking the question was baffled for what reason the URLs stayed in Google’s Search Index. It’s a typical perception that using the URL Removal Tool will eliminate the URL from the SERPs and the index.
However, that is not what is really 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).”
Google’s Webmaster Support page for the URL Removals Tool plainly says that the tool results in a temporary removal. “Temporarily” is used multiple times on the page, clarifying that the impact isn’t 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 powerful for preventing a URL from showing up in the indexed lists.
“Follow this procedure to temporarily block a URL from appearing in Google Search results.”
In a manner it’s a little confusing to consider the tool a Removal Tool since the word “removal” has a feeling of permanence.
The meaning of “removal” is:
“The action of taking away or abolishing something unwanted.”
That definition doesn’t make allowances for the temporariness of the removal.
But the truth of the matter is that the impact of the tool is temporary.
Perhaps Google should rename it from the URL Removals Tool to the Temporary URL Removals Tool?
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