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Webmaster General Forum

How to Remove Content from Search Engines
Get rid of accidentally exposed data

 3:53 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm aware of instructions like the ones found at [google.com...] showing how to remove content from Google's index as well as other search engines.

Still I have some sensitive content that is exposed and I want it removed sooner than later. I have shared the content with business partners and they have exposed my data on their web sites. I'm trying to make an instructional sheet to provide to them so they can correct this and to make the process as painless as possible for all involved. I want it gone from the index, cache, and anywhere else it may reside.

The most common solution is also time insensitive. Modifying the robots.txt only works as fast as a site is crawled. Does anyone have any ideas I can pass on to expedite this matter?



 5:19 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

You may find this of help.

Remember, it may be data you don't want exposed, but people will have to be searching for it to find it.



 7:01 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

make the process as painless as possible for all involved.

Relying on end users to do *anything* is always an unreliable and risky approach. Have you considered just moving/renaming all the files and 404'ing the sensitive data? This renders the indexed links irrelevant. In spite of how much work it might be, it might be the easiest path.

If this were me, I would consider it an error on my part (in judgment, programming, oversight, whatever) and would make it transparent to my users. As for the data on their sites, I'm not sure how I would approach that; if it's sensitive data and you no longer have control over it (being on their sites,) I'd have to re-think how I distribute that data.


 9:07 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

The google webmaster removal tool usually does work in just a couple of days.
The cheat sheet probably only needs to walk them through using it? If that - it isn't a difficult tool. :)

(It isn't 100% reliable. I had some pages that needed removal recently and they took out all but one - but it is the only tool we have :( )


 10:14 pm on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

you must give the search engines the proper response to indicate you don't want that content indexed.
this will require the cooperation of your "business partners".
it is explained pretty well in this recent post:

here is google's helpful hint:
Urgent removal request - Webmasters/Site owners Help [google.com]

here is yahoo's take on the subject:
How can I delete my URLs from the Yahoo! index? - Yahoo! Search Help [help.yahoo.com]

this support forum post by a live search product manager is good for a laugh:
How would one remove URL's from index - Live Search [forums.microsoft.com]
that should scale well! (not that large scale should be a problem there...)

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