You don’t want your potential customers seeing outdated product
descriptions, promotions that are no longer active, or last year’s price list in the search
results. The best and fastest approach to this problem is to update your site’s content
while keeping the file in the same location so that it doesn’t lose its search engine status.
In some cases, a simple update may not be so simple. For example, suppose you have
found a well-ranked search engine listing for your web page featuring the Snackmaster
2003 but your company no longer sells this older model. Your website now has a new
page featuring the Snackmaster 2007. If you rewrite your 2003 page to describe your
new product, your site will contain two pages with identical content, which is a search
engine no-no as well as an administrative headache. Instead, it’s best to edit the 2003
page content to include a notice that a new model is available and link to the 2007
model page. A 301 redirect would be another option, especially if there’s no customer
support or archival reasons to keep the old page live.
Private or inappropriate material
There it is, staring out at you from between listing
#5 and listing #7: Your company’s holiday gift list, with addresses and phone numbers
of all your best clients! You need to clean up your act, and fast. Here’s how:
• Remove the page from your site. Or, leave the offending file live, but imme-
diately remove the offending content.
• Then request removal from the search engines (see
links to removal URLs).
By leaving the file live but changing the content, you may benefit from a quicker
update than if you took down the page altogether. However, you should be aware that
a search engine’s cached pages may retain a snapshot of the content for longer than
you’re comfortable with, and there are historical web archive sites that may display the
content forever. If you have serious legal concerns—for example, if you posted a dis-
claimer that said, “All information on this site is medical advice” rather than “…
medical advice”—you can use the copyright search methods described next month to
search for instances of your content throughout the Web and seek removal.
While these are all positive steps, in truth there’s little you can do to prevent robots
from indexing pages that are live and accessible. If you really do not want pages to be
found, secure them behind a password!
www and non-www URLs in your listings
In the eyes of the search engines, these two
URLs are different pages:
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