Jul 20, 2011 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Yesterday, James Breckenridge was in the process of deleting thousands of URL’s, which were relating to him, from the Google Webmaster Tools. He soon discovered that by mistake he also deleted a URL he had nothing to do with. Following the discovery, he was taken aback. And carried out various tests and to his dismay, he was proven right. Google was in the process of allowing him to delete the URL of the website he was not related too. Of course this should not happen!

However with James being the responsible lad let Google know about it immediately, rather than getting rid of all the websites he did want to exist. In addition to James, Barry Schwartz too informed Google of this major dark hole in Google's atmosphere. And following is the reply from Google they received “we’re still investigating this report, and to be cautious we disabled all URL removals earlier this morning.” The situation somewhat seems to be a little under control as, for a temporary period Google seems to have disabled it's URL Removal Tool. Whilst this means you won't be able to disable the URLs you did not want. But at least it also means, no one else will be able to disable the URLs that you did want.

James demonstrates the process of deleting the URL:


Replace in the URL above:

  • {YOUR_URL} = A URL you control within Webmaster Tools
  • {URL_TO_BLOCK} = The URL of the site you want to block”

He also shows how to remove or block the whole site or just an aspect of the website by following:

Site – Provide top level domain (E.g. http://www.someurl.com/)
Section – Provide URL of the folder (E.g. http://www.someurl.com/somefolder/)
Page – Provide URL of the page (E.g. http://www.someurl.com/somefolder/somepage.html)”

By following the above steps he was taken straight to the the 'Crawler Access' confirming if he wanted to remove all aspects of the website.

In his case he used News of The World website as an example to demonstrate the loophole in Google's URL Removal tool. Had Google actually deleted the website. There would have been a major uproar today, with such big news paper's website vanishing from the face of the web. Google should be thankful to the thoughtfulness shown on James Breckenridge's part. All of these above steps sounds so easy. Any layman in possession of such instruction could delete anything from the web. Let alone an expert like himself. For a second just imagine this discovery falling into wrong hands? One can only imagine the ridiculous amount of carnage it will cause to the URL they do not fancy a lot.

This is probably a slap on the face of Google's security philosophy which they so dearly propagate. Google claims “As a provider of software and services for many users, advertisers and publishers on the Internet, we recognize how important it is to help protect your privacy and security.” So much for protecting the privacy and security of the URL James by mistake deleted!

This, is also kind of like a wake up call for all of us who never question any services that Google provides. Perhaps Google is not as whitewashed and pure as they make it out to be. Maybe there are many dark spots to be stopped in the Google's seemingly apparent white washed canvas. Time will tell how many more loopholes will be discovered, without much damage caused to users. But until then hang in tight if you wish to delete your own URLs till the Google URL Removal Tool is made available again.

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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