Control what you share with Google

Control what information Google sees on your site and what is shown in search results. There are a few reasons you might want to hide content from Google:

  • To keep data private: You might have private data hosted on your site that you want to keep other users from accessing. You can block Google from crawling such data so it doesn't show up in search results.
  • To hide content of less value to your audience:

    Your website might have the same content in different places, which could negatively affect your page rankings in Google Search. A good example of where duplicate content can arise is a site-wide search function to help users navigate site content. Some search functions generate and display custom search results pages every time any user enters a query. Google can crawl all the custom search results pages individually if they are not blocked. As a result, Google sees a site with many similar pages and might categorize the duplicate content as spam, which could undermine page rankings in Google Search.

    Your website might share information generated by other third-party sources, which is available in other places on the web. Google sees less value in including your pages that include large amounts of duplicate content in Google Search results. You can block the copied content to improve what Google sees and boost your page rankings in Google Search.

  • To have Google focus on your important content: If you have a very large site (many thousands of URLs) and pages with less important content, or if you have a lot of duplicate content, you might want to prevent Google from crawling the duplicate or less important pages in order to focus on your more important content.

How to block content

Here are the main ways to block content from appearing in Google:

Methods

Remove the content

For all content types

Removing content from your site is the best way to ensure that it won't appear in Google Search, or anywhere. If the information is already appearing in Google, you might need to take additional steps to make your removal permanent.

Password-protect your files

For all content types

If you have confidential or private content that you don't want to appear in Google search results, the simplest and most effective way to block private URLs from appearing is to store them in a password-protected directory on your site server. Googlebot and all other web crawlers are unable to access content in password-protected directories.

Advanced users: If you're using Apache Web Server, you can edit your .htaccess file to password-protect the directory on your server. There are a lot of tools on the web that can help you do this.

robots.txt and/or emergency image removal request

For images

Use robots.txt rules to block images.

noindex directive

For web pages

noindex is a technique that tells Google not to read your page or let it appear in Google search results. Your pages can still be linked to and visited through other web pages, or directly visited by users with a link, but the pages will not appear in Google search results. This method requires technical savvy, and may not be available if you use a content management system to host your site.

Opt out of specific Google properties

For web pages

You can tell Google not to include content from your site in specific Google properties, rather than all Google properties.

nosnippet meta tag

For Search result snippets

Add the <meta name="robots" content="nosnippet" /> tag to your page's HTML head section to prevent a snippet from appearing in Search. However, note that this can generate a confusing message in search results ("No information is available for this page").

URL Parameters tool

For web pages, site sections, URL patterns

Advanced users can use the URL Parameters tool to block crawling of URLs with specific parameters. We recommend using this method only if you are a very advanced user, as it can block large portions of your site's URL space in a way that isn't easy to debug if you get it wrong.

Remove existing content from Google

Learn how to Remove a page hosted on your site from Google.