I have a client whose dev team set up a wordpress site for development (dev server on a subdomain), but didn't check the "Search Engine Visibility" checkbox when creating the site and now the site is showing up in the google search engine results.

Will checking the box now remove it from google or are they screwed?

  • 2
    No, it will not. Basically all it does is asks Google (and other search engines) to not index your site by amending a file call robots.txt. If however it is already indexed, unchecking that box will mearly mean that the site is not re-indexed the next time a bot comes along. I image that Google and others have rules about how long a site that it's bot cannot index stays listed, but I don't know what they are. Check out this explaination for more information - About /robots.txt
    – David Gard
    Feb 19 '15 at 15:26

Google's Webmaster Tools allows you to request pages to be removed from Google's index. This should happen a bit quicker than waiting for the crawler to remove the site automatically.

If you haven't already, you or your client will need to add the develop site to Webmaster Tools. Then you can do the following for each link added to the index:

  1. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want.
  2. On the Dashboard, click Google Index on the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Remove URLs.
  4. Click New removal request.
  5. Type the URL of the page you want removed from search results (not the Google search results URL or cached page URL), and then click Continue. How to find the right URL. The URL is case-sensitive—use exactly the same characters and capitalization that the site uses.
  6. Click Yes, remove this page.
  7. Click Submit Request.

From Google Support


Checking the box will mark all pages/posts on whole site as "noindex". Next time search engine visits the site/pages, it will detect that and should remove it from the index immediately.

Problem is a bug in WordPress (now fixed for next version) that this checkbox also alters robots.txt so that search engines will not be allowed to visit any page and hence not discover that they are all noindexed.

Either override robots.txt with an open one, allowing all to see the noindex header, until the site is completely removed, or do as suggested, remove the site by manual requests to the search engines.

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