Our website includes a referral system where clients can advertise for our service with a special link. Instead of example.org the link looks like example.org?r=xyz.

Unfortunately, we forgot to tell Google the r parameter will not change any website content in the webmaster tools, thus Google found a referral link on one of the clients own websites and indexed it.

Obviously, we don't want to honor this client when people came from Google instead. I've already changed the parameter properties in the webmaster tools.

Now, how can I remove links such as example.org?r=xyz without removing example.org, permanently?

  • It sounds like you already did it. You just need to wait a couple weeks. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 22 '16 at 13:34
  • You can check the HTTP Referer header to exclude traffic coming from Google. – MrWhite Dec 22 '16 at 15:59

Now you've correctly told Google the purpose of the URL parameter in Google Search Console, it will take a while for Google to remove the URL with the parameter from search results. After a couple of weeks, the result should disappear from search.

You can still try Google Search Console's URL removal tool. This may encourage Google to drop the result faster. The tool provides temporary removal of URLs but upon re-crawling the URL parameters settings will take effect.

  • 1
    You can/should also set the appropriate rel="canonical" tag. – MrWhite Dec 22 '16 at 15:59
  • Using the URL Removal tool with the specific URLs was successful, thank you. It just took around a week. – Martin Braun Dec 27 '16 at 11:31

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