Hiding From Google: A Real Test Case

January 24th, 2016

Lots of articles and books have been written on how to increase a website’s visibility on Google, but you won’t find so many resources talking about the opposite task: how to delete your website from any search result page.

I recently had to do this job for a non-critical asset and I had fun in monitoring how much time is required for a website with about 10K indexed pages to be completely forgotten by the most popular search engine.

I started my little experiment with the following 2 actions:

  • the robots.txt file has been modified to block any user agent on any page for that website;
  • a server-side authentication has been added to the website’s root folder, just to be sure that Google won’t be able to access those URLs anymore.

Then I just sat down and watched my website slowly disappearing from Google’s SERPs. I am surpised about the results: after 10 days, about 70% of the original 10K pages were cleaned, but the rest is taking a lot more. Now, after 2 months and half from the beginning, I still have more than 2K indexed pages.

Hiding From Google

Note that you can speed up the process with further actions, in particular resubmitting a cleaned XML sitemap or even manually blocking URLs through Google Webmaster Tools. Anyway, it’s very interesting to see how Google handles this kind of situation.

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