Brandon Mercer, who works at Hearst Newspapers, wrote in the Google Search Console help forums that people are using the “remove outdated content tool” to get rid of competitor pages, and he said it works.
Danny Sullivan from Google replied, but he doesn’t seem to believe that it really does work.
The tool came out in January 2020, and a few months later, it was improved.
The tool will let you ask for pages that have a lot of new information that wasn’t in the original story.
But Google’s help document says, “If the page is still there but has changed, the snippet and the cached result will be taken out of Search results.
Both will be updated the next time Google’s crawler visits the page.
The page can still show up in Search results until then.” It shouldn’t get rid of the page and take it off the list.
Brandon said, “With the “Remove Outdated Content” tool, a news article, even one from a competitor, can be taken out of the index without the site owner having to do anything.
Users only have to show one word from the old article that isn’t in the new one.
When a user submits that, Google removes the article from its search results on its own within hours.
The only way to find out if this happened to your site is to go to your Search Console and look for pages that have been taken down.”
Afterward, he said, “Many publishers are having this happen.
On the webmaster side, there is NO approval process.
You can choose to remove ANY URL from indexing.
This is a big problem.”
So Danny Sullivan from Google came in and wrote, “I’ll pass this on,” he added “but your screenshots aren’t clear.
In one of them, you show that an old cache was removed.
That’s not the same as a page being taken off the site.
The tool does let you get rid of a cache or snippet if it no longer shows live content.
And if you find a word that doesn’t appear anymore, that could cause the cache/snippet to be removed.”
Danny then said it again “For actually removing a page, the tool shouldn’t process a removal if the page itself is still being reported as live and not blocked.
In the cases you’ve tested, you’ve found that the page is still live and that it doesn’t have anything blocking it, like a “noindex” attribute, right?”
“The tool is designed to remove links that are no longer live or snippets that are no longer reflecting live content. We’ll look into this further,” Danny said.
What the tool looks like is as follows: