Old content still showing up in Google search results? Google might not find that content important

Have you ever been in a position where you have removed pages from your website and it has taken Google a really long time to remove that content from its search results? There is no need to worry. It just means that Google has not crawled the page yet and has not figured out the content has been removed.

John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analysts, explained on Twitter that if Google didn’t remove that content, it is possible Google doesn’t crawl that page very often. If that is the case, John said, “Usually that’s a sign that we didn’t think they were that important.” That would be an added confirmation from Google that “might help confirm that they were ok to remove” that content from your site.

In short, if you remove content from your site, and Google has not yet removed the content from their index, it is an added confirmation from Google that Google didn’t find that content to be that important anyway.

Here is John’s tweet:

This is something Google documented back in January 2017, when they posted What Crawl Budget Means for Googlebot. There they wrote, “URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in our index.”

Google also wrote that “an increased crawl rate will not necessarily lead to better positions in Search results. Google uses hundreds of signals to rank the results, and while crawling is necessary for being in the results, it’s not a ranking signal.”

So I wouldn’t consider crawl rate a signal of how well your web pages will rank, but rather, if Google is not crawling a specific page too often, it is either because the page is not important or because Google considers the content on that URL to be stale.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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