Google Remove Outdated Content Tool Remove Competitor Pages?

Apr 4, 2023 - 7:11 am 4 by

Shredder Google

Brandon Mercer, who works at Hearst Newspapers, posted in the Google Search Console help forums that people are using the "remove outdated content tool" from Google to remove competitor pages, and he said it works. Although Google's Danny Sullivan responded, he seems unconvinced that it does indeed work. The tool was launched in January 2020 and was upgraded several months later.

The tool will let you submit requests for pages that show a significant amount of content that was changed from the original story. But Google's help document says, "If the page is still available but changed, it will remove the snippet and cached result from Search results, but both will be refreshed the next time Google's crawler visits the page. Until that time, the page can still appear in Search results." It should not remove the page and de-index the page completely.

Brandon wrote, "The "Remove Outdated Content" tool can be used to deindex a news article, including a competitor's article, without any input from the site owner. The tool only requires users to show one word that is in the old article but not in the new one. After a user submits that, Google de-indexes the article unilaterally within hours. I have verified this myself and seen that it works. The only way to discover that someone did this to your site is to go to your Search Console and check for removed pages."

He then later said, "this is happening to many publishers. There is NO approval process on the webmaster side. And, I just verified it again yesterday. You can remove ANY URL from indexing, unilaterally. For my colleague, she didn't even have to add any outdated words. She just submits it, and it de-indexes. This is a major bug."

So Danny Sullivan from Google came in and wrote, "I'll pass this on," he added "but your screenshots aren't clear. In one, you show that an outdated cache removal happened. That's not the same as a page actually being removed. The tool does allow for a cache / snippet to be removed if it's no longer reflecting live content. And if you are finding a word that no longer appears, yes, that could trigger a cache/snippet removal in that case."

Danny then reiterated that "for actually removing a page, the tool really shouldn't process a removal if the page itself is still be reported as live and not blocked to us. In the cases you've tested, you're finding that the page is indeed still live and there are no blocking mechanisms on it such as a noindex attribute?"

"The tool is designed to remove links that are no longer live or snippets that are no longer reflecting live content. We'll look into this further," Danny said yesterday.

So I am not sure what is going on, have any of you tried this out?

Here is what the tool looks like:

click for full size

Forum discussion at Google Search Console Help Forums.


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