Have you ever heard the saying “the internet is forever?”
While it’s a good rule of thumb, it’s by no means law.
There are many reasons people need to remove the websites they own from the internet.
Maybe your website contains outdated information that’s misleading people who search for your business. Or perhaps you’ve moved to a new website, and your old one is still showing up in search results.
Whatever the case, we can help.
This article will show you how to remove a website from Google in simple, painless steps.
Let’s dive in!
Google and Your Website
Before we cover how to remove a website from Google, you’ll need to learn a little about the inner workings of Google’s search engine.
Before search engines, the internet was essentially a series of digital archives. While the internet is still like an archive today, we now use search engines to fetch information.
Google’s search engine processes your request in three simple steps whenever you search for something.
- First, it uses Google crawlers to hunt for web pages and websites centered around your search topic. Google then files these webpages and websites in a shortlist.
- Next, Google scours its shortlist to analyze the content of each listing. During this stage, Google looks at video files, images, text content, and anything else it can analyze.
- Finally, Google ranks the web pages and websites it analyzed from most to least relevant. Then, its search engine identifies which results are most suited to you by your location, previous browsing behavior, language, and device (it won’t want to show mobile users a website with no mobile compatibility). Google then shows you the results.
Every time you make a Google search, Google sorts through millions of websites in the span of a few seconds. This speedy turnaround is made possible by search engine indexing and caching.
Let’s discuss those next.
What Is Search Engine Indexing and Caching?
Indexing is the process Google uses to sort information on the internet to deliver responses to searches quickly. When Google indexes information, it sorts through websites in an inverted index (also called a “reverse index”). An inverted index is a database that contains information about a website’s key elements.
Inverted indexes use “tokenization.” This is the process of summarizing content by a few keywords. For example, websites that sell black leggings would be tokenized with keywords like “leggings,” “black leggings,” and “women’s leggings.”
Search engine caching is a separate process. Caches are snapshots of a page that Google uses to understand its contents. You can see an example of a cached website below.
Google takes website caches periodically, meaning that some website caches are up-to-date while others aren’t. Naturally, deleting your website isn’t enough to remove it if Google has cached it.
Google uses search engine indexing and caching to reduce the work needed to return accurate search results. Essentially, indexing and caching allow Google to understand a website without analyzing it thoroughly.
When You Remove a Result From Google, Does It Get Removed Worldwide?
When you remove a result from Google’s search engine, you are only removing it from Google. Unfortunately, this means that the result may still appear on other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
Alternatively, Google may re-index the search result or keep a cache of the webpage. Google’s search engine constantly re-indexes websites to return the most accurate information to users. If you remove a search result but don’t delete the webpage, images, and URL, Google may re-index the content and list it again.
If you want to fully remove a website from the internet, you need to delete all traces of it — including the website’s content, images, URL, and search results. We’ll cover this process in detail later.
But first, let’s cover the “why.”
Reasons to Remove a Website From Google
There are many reasons why a person may want to remove a website. In this section, we’ve outlined six of the most common removal reasons and the recommended course of action for each.
Reason 1: The Information on the Website is Outdated or Wrong
If Google displays incorrect information, it can mislead your audience and confuse people. There are three ways to fix a Google listing with incorrect information:
- Correct the information
- Delete the website
- Remove the website from search results.
Reason 2: The Website or Webpages You Want to Delete are Duplicates
Sometimes Google displays multiple search engine results for the same webpage. This issue commonly happens with online store listings where a website contains similar-looking web pages with different products (i.e., different pages for red, green, blue, and black leggings). You may want to remove duplicate listings from search results in this situation.
Reason 3: The Website or Webpage Contains Leaked Information
Occasionally, businesses push “publish” on a website or webpage that should have stayed private (like new product pages). You’ll need to unpublish your website and remove it from search results to fix this problem.
Reason 4: Google Has Cached the Website
Google continuously re-indexes websites to deliver updated and exact search results. However, if you’ve deleted or changed your website, Google may use an outdated cache. In this situation, you’ll want to remove the website from search results and file a request for Google to re-index your site.
Reason 5: The Information on the Webpage Is Private
Sometimes private information becomes public through accidents, mistakes, or information leaks. If this has happened to you, we recommend eradicating the website. If you don’t control the website, and it contains personal information or defamatory content, you can ask Google to remove it. You could also contact the site owner directly.
Reason 6: A Third-Party Hacked Your Website
If someone has breached your website, there may be a cybersecurity risk to anyone who visits. To keep your audience safe from malware, you’ll want to delete the website or remove it from search results.
With these reasons in mind, the following two sections will cover removing a website from Google and removing a website from Google’s search results.
How to Remove a Website From Google
Removing a website from Google is a multi-step process, but it isn’t difficult. If you want to remove a website from Google entirely, you simply need to follow these steps.
Step 1: Backup Your Website
Before starting the website removal process, don’t forget to backup your website. Once you delete your website from Google, you won’t restore it easily. That means you’ll lose your images, videos, and text content.
If there’s a chance you will ever want these things back, we recommend backing up your website. If you use Kinsta, you can backup your website by following these steps:
- Go to “MyKinsta” and click “Backups.”
- Go to the “Download” tab.
- Click “Create Backup Now.” Kinsta will email you a backup of your website as an archive file (.zip).
- Open the email from Kinsta and click “Download the backup now.”
- Save the backup to your computer.
If you use another host, you’ll need to follow their instructions to backup your website. Alternatively, you can use third-party website backup software.
Step 2: Rename and Password-Protect Your Website
Once you’ve downloaded a backup of your website, you’ll want to make it difficult for people to find. Later in this process, we’ll walk you through removing your website from Google’s search results. But first, we need to stop Google users from visiting your website in the meantime.
There are two ways to restrict access to your website: renaming it and password-protecting it.
First, you’ll want to rename your website. This process is straightforward if you use Kinsta. All you need to do is:
- Go to “MyKinsta” and click “Sites.”
- Find the website you want to rename and click “Basic Details.”
- Select “Rename Site” and give your website a new name in the popup widget.
- Click “Rename Site” to save your new name.
You can see this process in the image below.
Next, you’ll want to password-protect your website. To add a password to your website in Kinsta with HTTP authentication, follow these steps:
- Go to “MyKinsta” and click “Sites.”
- Select “Tools” from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
- Look for “Password protection” and click “Enable.”
- Choose a username and password.
You can see Kinsta’s password protection screen in the image below.
If you use another hosting provider, you’ll need to refer to their instructions to rename and password-protect your website (though these processes are usually very similar).
Step 3: Delete Your Website Through Your Host
You’ll need to delete your website through your host for this next step. We’ve compiled instructions for deleting your website on Kinsta, WordPress.com, and Google Sites in this section. If you use another provider, you’ll need to refer to their instructions directly.
If you host your website through Kinsta, removing it is a straightforward process. All you need to do is follow these steps:
- Go to “MyKinsta” and click “Sites.”
- Scroll to the website you want to delete and click “Delete Site.”
- Kinsta will then ask you to confirm that you will delete your website with a popup. On this popup, tick the boxes reading “The files and database for editwp will be deleted” and “The files and database in the staging environment for editwp will also be deleted.”
- Enter your website’s name, a dash, and the word “live” in this format: “Sitename-live.”
- Click “Delete Site.”
If you use WordPress.com or WordPress.org, you can also delete your website through WordPress’s settings directly.
- Log in to WordPress.
- Click “Manage” then “Settings.”
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Delete your site permanently.”
- At this stage, WordPress will give you the option to export your website content as a .zip file. If you ever wanted to reinstate your website, you could simply reupload this file.
- Click “Delete site” and enter your website URL into the text box for confirmation.
- Click “Delete this site” again to confirm.
If you use WordPress.com, you can also delete your account directly. Deleting your account will delete any websites associated with it. To delete your account, follow these steps:
- Log in to WordPress.
- Go to “Account settings.”
- Click “Close your account permanently.”
- Review the content and click “Close account.”
If you manage your website through Google Sites, you can also delete your website there. Google Sites users currently use either New Google Sites or Classic Google Sites. The steps are slightly different for each.
Removing a New Google Site
- Go to new Google Sites.
- Select the website you want to delete and click “More.”
- Click the trash icon or “Remove.”
- Empty your Google Drive trash to delete your website data permanently.
Removing a Classic Google Site
- Go to classic Google sites.
- Click the settings icon.
- Select “Manage Site.”
- Click “General” and “Delete this site.”
- Confirm by clicking “Delete.”
Once you’ve deleted your website through your website host, you need to remove it from Google. Although Google’s search engine constantly updates its listings to remove old content, your website may appear in Google’s search results after you’ve deleted it.
We’ll show you how to remove your website from search results in the next few steps.
Step 4: File a URL Removal Request
Google allows website owners to remove URLs from Google’s search engine through a URL removal request. This process will temporarily remove old content from search results while Google updates its listings. If your URL is removed, it won’t appear in search results for roughly six months. You can always file another removal request after your content is re-listed.
To file a URL removal request, you’ll need to log into Google Search Console. Then, you need to click “Removals” and select “New Request.” That will bring up this screen.
Next, you need to type your URL into the text bar. Select either “Remove this URL only” or “Remove all URLs with this prefix.” If you select “Remove all URLs with this prefix,” you can block indexed pages with the same prefix, like “kinsta.com/resources.”
After you’ve chosen your option, click “Next” and then “Submit Request.”
Google will review your URL removal request and alert you of the outcome. It’s important to note that if Google successfully removes your URL from search results, it won’t mark the URL as spam or place it on a blocklist. Your website’s SEO will also remain unaffected.
Step 5: Submit a Content Removal Request to Google
Over time, Google’s search engine identifies websites or webpages that have been removed and deletes them from search results. However, this process could take several months, as over 1.8 billion websites are on the internet.
To remove your website or webpage from search results quickly, you can file a content removal request with Google.
A content removal request only applies in situations where:
- You are the website owner.
- You’ve deleted or changed the website.
Filing a content removal request is very simple. First, you’ll need to open Google Search Console’s Outdated Content Removal Tool page and log in with your Google account. Then, you need to click the “New Request” option. This option will bring up the widget below.
Select the “Page” option and enter your webpage or website URL. Click “Submit.” Google will then search for the webpage and confirm that you’ve deleted it.
Google sorts through all outdated content removal requests before it processes them. They will likely process your request within a few days, but you can view the status of your request in Google Search Console at any time. If you change your mind, you can also cancel your removal request.
Step 6. Delete Content From the Wayback Machine
Once you’ve removed your content from the internet and Google search results, most traces of your website are gone. However, if your website received a lot of traffic, a visitor may have documented it in the Wayback Machine.
The Wayback Machine is a non-profit internet archive that hosts over 350 million web pages. If someone has listed your website in the Wayback Machine, Google could cache and re-index it accidentally, bringing it back into search results.
You can check if your website is documented in the Wayback Machine by visiting “archive.org/web/” and typing in your URL. This will bring up any listings for your website.
If you cannot find your website in the Wayback Machine, you can skip to the next section. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact the Wayback Machine team through “[email protected]” to request that they remove your URL. Please note that you must include your URL in your email to process your request.
Step 7: Confirm Your Website Was Deleted
Removing your website from Google may take several days. This is because Google has to process your URL and content removal requests, which is not an instant process.
After you’ve followed the previous steps, you’ll need to double-check that your website is gone by checking that:
- Your URL doesn’t appear in search results
- Your website host deleted your website
- Google has marked your content removal request as “Approved”
- You’ve removed any social media links to your website
- You’ve deleted your Google My Business profile (if you had one)
How Do You Remove a Website From Google Search?
While many people simply want to delete their website from the internet, that isn’t the solution for everyone. If you’re going to keep your webpage or website online but don’t want it listed in search results, this is the section for you.
You can remove your content from Google’s search engine in two easy steps.
Step 1: Remove the URL From Google
First, you’ll need to file a URL Removal Request with Google. To file a URL Removal Request, simply:
- Log into Google Search Console.
- Click “Removals.”
- Click “New Request.”
- Type your URL in and click “Next.”
- Click “Submit.”
Alternatively, you could always redirect your URL to another (active) webpage. Redirecting your URL is an excellent compromise if the URL gets good search engine traffic, but you’ve moved the content to another page.
Step 2: Prevent Google From Re-Indexing the Content
Lastly, you need to take steps to prevent Google from re-indexing your URL. To do this, you simply need to add a
noindex tag to your webpage or website. A
noindex tag is a meta tag that you place in your website’s HTML code. When Google crawlers find a website with a
noindex meta tag, Google will drop your page from its search results.
To add a
noindex meta tag to your URL, you need to:
- Access your URL’s source code.
- Find the <head> section.
- Add this meta-tag to the section: “<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>”.
- Save your code.
Once you’ve added a
noindex tag, Google will stop re-indexing your site.
Can You Remove Images From Google Search Results?
Naturally, webpages and websites aren’t the only things you can remove from Google. Google also removes outdated images from Google Image Search at the image’s owner’s request.
Filing an outdated image removal request is pretty easy in Google Search Console. To file a request, go to the Outdated Content Removal Tool and click “New Request.” This will bring up the “Page” option, so you’ll need to select the “Image” option instead. Then, paste the URL of the outdated image in the text box and click “Submit.”
Google will process your request and alert you of the outcome. If your request is successful, Google will remove the image from Google Images. Please note that this tool only works with deleted images, not “live” images.
While the internet may seem like a very permanent place, this isn’t always true. If you need content removed, it can happen. Removing a website from Google is possible, provided you follow the steps above.
However, you should remember that there’s no way to restore a deleted website if you don’t have a backup.
Before you delete your website, always backup your website content and consider whether removing the URL from search results will solve the issue.