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Google Explains What URL Removals Tool Does

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Google’s John Mueller answered a tweet about the URL Removal Tool and why it wasn’t working how it was expected to. The question was in the context of a site that was hacked and generated Japanese spam pages.

Google Search Results Show Hacked Pages

One of the most frustrating things to happen to a site is to get hacked. The frustration is compounded when Google shows non-existent spam URLs in the search results.

That scenario is exactly what the person who asked the question was dealing with. They tried using Google’s URL Removal Tool but it seemed to not have the expected and desired effect.

According to the person asking the question:

“A website gets attacked “Japanese Spam”, the owner cleans the code, optimizes and secures the website but search results will take their own time to offer neat results.”

They next described the problem:

“Even after removing URL’S from SERP through Search console, the URL’s tend to come back to the search results or remain in index though as 404 pages.

Why is Google getting those 404 pages back in index after removing them?”

How Google’s URL Removal Tool Works

The person asking the question was puzzled as to why the URLs remained in Google’s Search Index. It’s a common perception that using the URL Removal Tool will remove the URL from the SERPs and the index.

But that’s not what is actually happening.

John Mueller responded via Twitter:

“The URL removal tool in Search Console just temporarily hides pages from the search results, it doesn’t remove anything from the index.
Sometimes these pages take a while to be reindexed (& usually those are less-frequently shown in search anyway, so few people see it).”

Google Search Console Help: URL Removals Tool

Google’s Webmaster Support page for the URL Removals Tool very clearly says that the tool results in a temporary removal. The word “temporarily” is used eleven times on the page, making it clear that the effect is not permanent.

The page says:

“The Removals tool enables you to temporarily block pages from Google Search results on sites that you own.”

Further down the page it says that the tool is effective for stopping a URL from appearing in the search results.

“Follow this procedure to temporarily block a URL from appearing in Google Search results.”

In a way it’s a little confusing to call the tool a Removal Tool since the word “removal” has a sense of permanence.

The definition of the word “removal” is:

“The action of taking away or abolishing something unwanted.”

That definition does not make allowances for the temporariness of the removal.

But the fact is that the effect of the tool is only temporary.

Maybe Google should rename it from the URL Removals Tool to the Temporary URL Removals Tool?

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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