Your March 2018 Search Engine Bytes Digest
 by Kristi Hagen

How do I "fix" the SEO when my dev site gets inadvertently indexed in Google?

  • For the past few months I've been working to improve the rankings of one of my client's sites we'll call www.clientsite.com. During that time I noticed that the link count was falling. Looking into it, I found the domain http://clientsite.madev.uk/, the links from which had been steadily dropping over time.

    So, I asked the web designer if they knew anything about it. Apparently this was a development site that had been deleted or set to No Follow some time ago.

    However, when searching site:http://clientsite.madev.uk/ on Google I get over 200 results. This seems to indicate they are still live (or least were when last indexed). However, when I go to the cache for say, the home page - Google says that it is a cache of http://www.clientsite.com/ which, of course, is the currently active site.

    How can you see a URL for a page and then see what it is/was directed to when you click it? Wouldn't a 301 have redirected Google's spider too? Regardless, our main worry is that this may have harmed the SEO of the site. What are your thoughts?

Answer:

It looks like somebody on the team made the dev site public, which is a common mistake web design teams make when they don't have an SEO around.

Here's what you need to do to fix this. Either you or the web developer, whoever has access, should go and verify that dev site in Google Search Console (GSC).

Next, use the Remove URL's tool. Go to https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663419?hl=en for instructions for entire domain. Scroll down and see the section about Make Removal Permanent.

Once it's verified in GSC and the removal request is active then you'll need to delete all content if you're no longer using it OR password protect it, etc. That will get that dev site out of the index.

The reason the 301 redirect isn't working is because Google no longer trusts that p...

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