Wikipedia:Purging Google search results

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Google and other search engines will often cache the pages they provide in their search result, to avoid having to look up these pages multiple times and thus slow down searches. For most websites, this doesn't cause any particular problem, as many websites will remain (mostly) unchanged between googlebot runs. Wikipedia, of course, is far more dynamic. On many occasions in the past, a page will be vandalized just before the googlebot caches the page. As a result, searches for that article for the next few weeks (until the next googlebot run) will display context from the vandalized version of the page. On biographies especially, this can be a severe problem leading to legal ramifications.

This page describes how to request Google remedy the problem by removing the vandalized page from their search cache.

Removing inappropriate content from Google searches[edit]

Note: if the page is suitable for {{NOINDEX}}ing, this makes it slightly easier, as there is a box to tick on the request page.)

  1. Make sure that the page in question no longer displays the vandalized text. If it does, revert the vandalism.
  2. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals and sign in with your Google account
    If you don't have an account, you will need to create one (which only takes a few moments), or you can contact another user to complete the rest of the steps.
  3. Select "Information or image that appears in the Google search results." and click Next>>.
  4. Select "The site owner has modified this page so that it no longer contains the information or image that concerns me." and click Next>>.
  5. In the first box, enter the full URL of the page that had the bad search results. On the English Wikipedia, these URLs will always be in the form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARTICLE_TITLE
  6. In the second box, enter the inappropriate words that were appearing in the search results. (Be sure not to include any word that still appears elsewhere on the page in an acceptable context, e.g., vandal inserted "racist, Anti-American" description in lead which then appeared in search results, but "racist" appears elsewhere in the article appropriately—in that case, do not include "racist" in the Google form or the deletion request will be later declined without illuminating explanation.)
  7. Click on "Submit Request"

Google should review the request within a few days and remove the offending content. (You will be able to check the status of the request; if request is denied, you have probably made the mistake described in step six: including a word that still exists somewhere else in the article.)

Other search engines[edit]

Removal procedures for other search engines are not documented at this time.

See also[edit]

  • {{Google Wikipedia}} – a template for searching Wikipedia with Google, useful to see what results appear in Google for given search terms
  • Wikipedia:Flagged revisions (WP:FLR) – a potential method to prevent vandal edits from being visible to search engine indexers