Need to Expedite Page Removal in Google’s Search index?

A common question we see in the webmaster and SEO community is how does one expedite the removal of a lot of pages from the Google search results. Google’s John Mueller said in a help thread that to help expedite the process, you can try to use temporary sitemaps.

How to remove pages from Google’s index

If it is a handful of pages, the fastest way is to use the URL removal tool in Google Search Console. Make sure to read those instructions over here.

But if you have hundreds or thousands of pages, removing URLs one by one can be time-consuming. John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analysts said you can use temporary sitemaps. First you 404 or set the pages to noindex. Then you upload a temporary sitemap file with the URLs you want removed but make sure to list them with the last modification date as of the date you set them to 404. It can help speed things up by giving Google a hint to look at these pages because they have changed. When they figure out the pages have changed and are 404ed, Google may remove them faster.

What John Mueller said. “One way to speed this up could be to submit a temporary sitemap file listing these URLs with the last modification date (eg, when you changed them to 404 or added a noindex), so that we know to recrawl & reprocess them,” he wrote in the thread. “This is something you’d just want to do for a limited time (maybe a few months), and then remove, so that you don’t end up in the long run with a sitemap file that’s not needed by your site.

Why remove pages?

Why would you want to remove a lot of pages from the Google search results? There can be a number of reasons such as maybe your site was hacked and the hacker created tons of pages on your site that you do not want. Another reason might be that you no longer offer a set of products or services you have listed on your site. Or maybe because of new regulation, you need to remove specific content or sections from your web site.

Why it matters. In almost all cases I’ve seen where webmasters want to remove content from their site, it is almost always an urgent matter. So any method to expedite the removal process is appreciated by these webmasters and site owners.