Incorrect or misleading information, or a negative interpretation can be very harmful to a company. If it appears on the first page of Google for important queries, you may want to batten down the hatches and deindex the URL, or make it end up on the second page.
It may be the case of a page in our website that must be published by law (for example the Cookies Policy), but also of pages in other websites that give incorrect information about our company, or could cause indirect damage (for example a negative review or instructions to uninstall our app). The good news is that there are ways to talk to Google and improve our reputation in the Serp.
How to deindex a URL in your site
Let’s start with our website, over which we have total control. The easiest way to remove a page from search results is of course to delete the page (return a 404 or 410) and wait for Google to process the change. However, some pages are mandatory even if not functional with the SEO positioning objectives of the site.
In these cases, we must send Google clear information to suggest not to include these pages in the search results. Warning: we are only giving suggestions, then Google does what it wants.
Temporary removal from Google Search Console
The quickest way to temporarily remove a page of your site from Google is the Google Search Console removal tool. It is the best solution to solve cases of publishing content with sensitive data, but it is not permanent.
The tool offers two options. The first is the removal of the URL from Google for 6 months. In this period we have to solve the problem. The second option is to remove the information within the snippet cache, not the URL. At the next crawl, Google will compile the snippet with the new information it will find on the page.
Editing your sitemap
The sitemap file is one of the most important to convey to Google the structure of our site. Search engine crawlers travel through the website following links, but this document sorts and organizes the information. To suggest to Google that it should not consider a particular URL, one of the actions to be taken is to make sure that it does not appear in the sitemap or possibly remove it.
De-indexing via Robot files
Google looks at sitemap and robot files, but decides to index the pages it deems eligible. To scan the website, it follows internal links path. If we have a page to hide without deleting it, the best way is to remove all links to it from the menu or other locations.
This is not always possible. The compromise is to add the noindex attribute to links to those pages. At least we are suggesting to Google not to index them, hoping that it will listen to us.
How to remove a page from other websites or blogs from Google
If in the Google Serp there are pages of other sites or blogs that talk about you or your company, you can ask the webmaster of these websites to remove the references, explaining why he should do it. The webmaster can refuse, but this is still the recommended mode as a first step because it is easier and quicker.
In case of failure, we have to turn to more complex and expensive techniques.
Tool to ask the removal of personal information from Google
Google offers a tool to ask the removal of personal information that violates the right to privacy or oblivion. It can happen, for example, for news articles or related to law processes that have passed and are no longer relevant. The request form can be found at this link. Please note: Only requests that violate privacy are accepted, not negative reviews.
PR and production of positive content
In cases of negative reviews or legitimate but unwelcome information (for example, a tutorial on how to delete your app), you need to act cunningly. We cannot ask for the removal of these pages via the Google form; therefore, we must take advantage of the communication and SEO tools at our disposal.
To overshadow negative reviews, make sure you have a lot of positive reviews. Then, transparently invite your satisfied customers to write what they think of you and, of course, are committed to providing a great service. You can also hire influencers or authoritative sites to talk about you.
The activity of PR and content production can be just as useful to go and put you into the search flow for a query that is negative for you. For example, for the query “how to cancel from X”, you must be brave enough to write a page of your site as a Faq on this topic. Since you are authoritative on this topic, you will be more likely to rank the page at the top of Google. At that point the game is played directly on your site: explain how to do it, but also why it can be convenient keep using the service. A problem could turn into an opportunity to retain a customer who was planning to leave.