How to Remove WordPress Category and Tag Pages from Google Index
Just as much as there is an importance to adding and submitting your website to the search engines, it is almost just as important to clean things up from time to time. Make it easy for Google. Think of it this way, if they have to look through your messy ass house to find something, they might just rather search through a cleaner house. Its nice to get new underwear so you can throw your old ones out… right?
In a nutshell, well go through the following:
- Briefing – Category v.s tag pages – why you might need to remove some from google index.
- Step 1 – How to remove from Google search console (this is the first step: you have 90 days to complete step 2)
- Step 2 – How to make the removal permanent
WordPress is a great tool but it can also be a pain in the ass with certain things. Real convenience will always come at the cost of some inconvenience.
Out of the box WordPress will index your category and tag pages if you select to allow search engines to crawl your site.
What is the problem with that? Isn’t submitting lots of information to Google a good thing?
Well….yes and no. Without a lot of customization, and a lot of content, the category and tag pages might be displaying the same or almost the same content.
Isn’t the point to also have links that help the crawlers make their way through your website to help SEO?
Yes, but here is the problem.
You might be at risk for duplicate content if you do not have enough posts per category or if you use multiple categories for a post. While this is not ENTIRELY true, unless you run a very large blog with LOTS and LOTS of content, this risk is possible for you.
Category pages v.s Tag pages
If you use categories the right way and do not add multiple categories to a post, then you would not really have to worry about this. The most common way of removing category pages are by using its direct permalink url in Google Search Console. That is to only remove a given category from indexing.
Tags are used more freely. Most people will go tag-crazy and just add a bunch of crap that pops up to their brains. Problem is that you run a higher risk of coming up with tags that might not be used again, therefore having multiple tag listing pages that will show the same preview content of the same article they are a part of.
How to Remove from Google Search Console
Ways of removing a URL from Google’s Index
Before jumping into how to remove the URLS from the Google Search Console, I want to explain the two ways of removing things from the web. You should also take a note that this step is a temporary step that lasts about 90 days and Google recommends you take alternative steps to this by either removing the content from your site or telling the crawler not to index a specific URL.
Note – this also applies to non wordpress websites and in general for removing any URL from any website.
- Direct URL Removal – This is when you paste the exact permalink URL of the category/tag page that you want to remove. Using this method will remove and no longer index that category/tag page and only that category/tag page. The others will still be visible unless they are also manually removed using this method.
- Directory Removal – Almost looks the same as direct url, but its not. A directory removal would be pasting the prefix url of the tags. For example, instead of using http://your-website.com/blog/tag/apples – you would use http://your-website.com/blog/tag/ – You will notice that the tag name ‘apples’ is not in the URL. This means every tag page will be removed from Googles index and will no longer be indexed if you add any future tags.
Be careful when pasting the URL’s and always verify what you are doing and make sure you do not remove a whole subdirectory that you intended on keeping.
Steps to remove a URL from Googles index
Login to your Google Search Console account
Select your website property
Remember if you want to remove only one given specific category or URL, use the direct permalink url. But if you want to remove all category and tag pages, then remove the tag name from the URL (http://my-website.com/blog/category/ or http://my-website.com/blog/tag/)
Remember to make a note of your URLS so you can reference back to which pages you have hidden in the future steps.
Setting your Category/Tag page to noindex
There is a meta tag that will tell crawlers from Google and other search engines to NOT index your page. Additionally, you can use a robots.txt to specify the urls that you don’t want indexed. Here is an example of the meta tag you can use in your custom WordPress theme.
Placing this tag in the <head> HTML section of your site will do the trick. Of course, with WordPress convenience where you don’t have to code your site, you’ll need a plugin or go the runaround way which is described here. Most articles describe how to do this using Yoast, but what they don’t tell you is the free version doesn’t help you with this.
Turning off Index on category or tag pages in WordPress can be done in a couple of ways. But we feel the easiest one can be the robots.txt file
Assuming the following: If your blog wordpress website is at the root of your domain (Example: http://my-blog-site.com) If your blog is located in another sub folder of your website (like /blog) then be sure to prefix /blog with the urls shown below (Example: /blog/category/apples, etc)
If you do not have a robots.txt file, create a plain file and add to the first line: User-agent: * and save the file
Now, refer to the following below to see which disallow statement would be best for your case.
If you want to remove a specific category make sure your robots.txt file looks something like:
If you want to remove all category pages from indexing add the following:
If you want to remove all tag pages from indexing:
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what is required to fix duplicate content issues caused by WordPress category or tag pages. You will have a cleaner result of your websites current indexing and you will eliminate the duplicate content problems. If you need any assistance don’t hesitate to contact Miami Web Lab.