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How Long Does It Take Google to remove outdated content

Many SEOs are primarily concerned with quickly getting their material indexed by Google. But the very opposite of having it deleted swiftly is frequently required.

Maybe your entire staging environment was indexed, sensitive information that should never have been exposed to Google has been indexed, or spam pages have appeared as a result of your website being hacked – whatever it is, you’ll want those URLs removed right away, correct?

So how long does it take for Google to remove outdated content from its web results?

Well, it very much depends on the situation. A site being hacked typically results in a short suspension, but outdated material temporarily indexed by Google will be outdated for longer. 

However, manually removing outdated pages from Google’s index is possible using the URL removal tool which you can access here.

I’ve had experiences where outdated content has been removed within hours of submitting a request but more commonly it takes about 3 days for google to process requests during non-busy periods and up to 7 days at peak times.

Here are three reasons why outdated pages may still possibly turn up in search results:

1 – outdated content appearing on 301 redirected pages

2 – links pointing to URLs of deleted pages which resolve as 404 errors resolve each time without being re-indexed

3 – outdated content indexed on Google’s cache servers (see here)

So, it can take up to three weeks for outdated pages to be removed from the index. And even then outdated pages may still appear in search results for a period of time if they are linked to by other domains or if their content is referenced in listings on cached pages. 

You can remove outdated content much faster by instead submitting your entire site for removal at once using this form. View the form here

Here’s how you remove outdated content

The right answer depends on whether or not you control the site, and what action you took to get Google to remove it. Let me explain why.

You control the site

  • Google Search Console’s Removal Tools: works usually within 24 hours, but oftentimes much faster. Caveat: this only hides URLs for 180 days. After that, they will pop up again so you need to take other actions to prevent this from happening (more on that later).
  • Returning 410 Gone status code: works usually within a few weeks.
  • Returning 404 Not Found status code: works usually within a few months.

If you haven’t removed the content from your website, you can’t return a 410 Gone or 404 Not Found status code. In that case, you need to take a different approach:

  • Implement robots noindex: works usually within a few weeks. You can implement the robots noindex either through the HTML source or HTTP header.

You don’t control the site

The majority of the time, working with the site owner to remove content is the quickest method to get it removed. Reach out to the site owner and work together on this, as well as have them implement the most suitable (and feasible) approach from the “You control the site” part, which frequently works.

When the site owner has taken action and you want to speed up the removal process, submit a “Remove outdated content” request with Google.

(Source Google Developers Website)

Top tip! Don’t forget to update your site map

How long does it take before outdated content is removed after requesting URL removal?

Google has a short window to verify that content was outdated and remove it from the index. Matt Cutts has even said that outdated content may be removed within “minutes” of them knowing about it.

How long does Google need to approve your request?

It can take some time, especially if you’re doing this for 1-2 URLs and not an entire domain. If you have a lot of outdated pages or there are mixed signals on what needs to be removed, Google will sometimes flag it as a penalty and won’t remove any outdated content until you resolve the problem at hand (i.e., figure out why outdated content ended up visible in search). 

In other words, sending a message specifically asking for outdated pages removal might do the trick rather than going through the hassle of speaking with Google to get the content removed from SERPS.

Why Do Outdated Pages Still Show in Search Results When Requesting Removal From Google’s Index?

If outdated content is indexed in Google, there are several reasons why it may linger within search results. These include:

· The URL still exists externally on the web, but the content has been removed from Google’s index for other reasons.

· Content has remained accessible directly through another source instead of being picked up by internal crawling. For example, if you have outdated pages within your directory structure that are publicly listed in directories or information contained elsewhere on the web can be found via external sources that link to outdated URLs, outdated pages might not be picked up by Googlebot.

· Content has been updated and the URL hasn’t been redirected to a new destination – this can be quite common when it comes to 404 errors, but if your entire site has been migrated over to a new domain name or loading in a different manner (e.g., via JavaScript), internal links no longer work.

· Keywords in the URL have changed because page names have also changed – usually when there’s a large case mismatch between how keywords are used in URLs and what they’re associated with by search engines. You can detect such cases through backlink analysis or Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries feature.

So what do if it’s still appearing even after being removed?

The first step should be to file a reconsideration request through Google Webmaster Tools. It may even help if you can locate an outdated piece of content that used to rank highly for the old URL but now ranks below the updated version.

Other options are to contact Google directly, or – as a last resort – disavowing any links pointing at outdated content on your site.

Doing so is usually reserved for extreme cases where manual actions have been applied against your website because of spammy outbound links and you don’t want that affecting your local seo. The last thing you want is for this obsolete outdated content to trigger another penalty!

Speak with an SEO specialist

The best way to ensure your website is up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and techniques, maintain its rankings in search engines, and keep visitors coming back for more is by enlisting the help of an expert.

Our team of experts are ready and waiting to partner with you to create a SEO or digital marketing plan that drives sales by considering how your customers think.It’s time for you to speak with one of our experts about optimising your site today!

Further reading: Check out our article on creative marketing ideas for small business