Google Updates Guidance On Image Removal From Search Index

Google updated their emergency and non-emergency image removal guidance with added details that give new clarity to the documentation.

Removing Images From Search Index

Google offers multiple ways to remove images from the search index on both an emergency and non-emergency basis.

There are multiple relatively trivial changes but these are the topics that had different levels of changes:

How to quickly remove images.
What to do when there is no access to the CDN that’s hosting the images or if the CMS doesn’t offer a way to block indexing.
More details about the use of robots.txt for images.
How to use wildcards in robots.txt
A caveat about the use of noimageindex robots tag.

How To Quickly Remove Images From Index

The first addition to the documentation is the following paragraph:

“For emergency image removal
To quickly remove images hosted on your site from Google’s search results, use the Removals tool. Keep in mind that unless you also remove the images from your site or otherwise block the images as described in the non-emergency image removal section, the images may resurface in Google’s search results once the removal request expires.”

When There’s No Access To Images On CDN Or By CMS

The next scenario is when an image is hosted on a CDN but for whatever reason they can’t be accessed or the CMS prevents blocking the image.

This is the added paragraph:

“If you don’t have access to the site that’s hosting your images (for example a CDN) or your CMS doesn’t provide a way to block images with the noindex X-Robots-Tag HTTP header or robots.txt, you might need to delete the images altogether from your site.”

Images And Robots.txt

The next changes are minor additions to two paragraphs that together make the message clearer, with addition of the phrase, “for example” and some other extra words that are relatively trivial.

The following passage about robots.txt structure was changed from this:

“Rules may include special characters for more flexibility and control. The * character matches any sequence of characters, and patterns may end in $ to indicate the end of a path.

To this:

“Rules may include special characters for more flexibility and control. Specifically, the * character matches any sequence of characters which lets you to match multiple image paths with one rule.”

Change To Guidance On Robots.txt Wildcards

The next change is more substantial because it offers more details on how to use wildcards. Wildcards in this context relates to the use of the * symbol which means any character can be there.

This part:

“# Wildcard character in the filename for
# images that share a common suffix:”

Becomes this:

“# Wildcard character in the filename for
# images that share a common suffix. For example,
# animal-picture-UNICORN.jpg and
# animal-picture-SQUIRREL.jpg
# in the “images” directory
# will be matched by this pattern.”

New Paragraph About Noimageindex Robots Tag

The last of the significant changes is a passage that offers a caveat about the use of the noimageindex.

This is the new passage:

“Note that adding the noimageindex robots tag to a particular page will also prevent that images embedded in that page from getting indexed. However, if the same images also appear in other pages, they might get indexed through those pages. To make sure a particular image is blocked no matter where it appears, use the noindex X-Robots-Tag HTTP response header.”

Google Search Central Updating Documentation

This is the latest of an ongoing series of updates to Google’s documentations. Long webpages are edited to make them more concise. Others, like this webpage, are edited to make them clearer.

Read the newly updated guidance on removing images from Google’s index:

Remove images hosted on your site from search results

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Piotr Swat

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