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A Google search of my site shows sitelinks (ie. links below the main link in the search result) that point to pages that no longer exist.

I have checked to ensure these pages have been deleted on my WordPress site.

Using the Google Webmaster Tools, I could only temporarily hide these site links from showing in the search results. However, a few days later they would re-appear when the hiding request expires.

I would like to know:

  1. Why Google (and Bing) continue to show these URL links when the pages no longer exist? I assume these links are being referenced on other sites

  2. How I can tell Google that these links no longer need to be show in the search result?

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Google has removed Search Console's sitelinks tool, so the URL removal tool is all that's left. You mention you've tried this, but after a few days the link comes back. Something seems off here since the URL removal tool will remove links for 90 days, so if they come back after a few days then there's either a bug or the correct link isn't being removed.

Make sure the page is returning the correct status code such as 404 or even 410. Next time Google crawls the page, which you can do manually using the fetch tool and then ‘submitting to index’, the link should be removed.

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When you remove any content from website and return 404 error, then Google will assume that, that webpage will come back again after few some times, so they continuously crawl it, and index it for few days or may be for months, if is useful and people see that webpage from Google cache.

So if you return 404 error, then you should be wait for few days/months. The right choice will be use 410 (Permenetly gone) error, so once google see that header while crawling, google will drop that page immediately.

But If any other website is pointing to that webpage, then 301 redirection will be good choice instead of 410, because it help you to pass more juicy to your website. Click on URL errors option from search console and see from which webpage is it is linked.

  • Of course Google will continue to crawl 404s, but there's no reason for Google to show 404s in SERPs. There's no way Google keeps pages that return 404 in the SERPs "for a few months". Google will continue to crawl 410s too (albeit at a far reduced rate). I don't really know how this answers the question… – grg Dec 25 '16 at 12:43
  • Yes, Google show it for few months, because other people reading it from cached result page. It's not my assumption, I have seen it. For reference you can watch this matt cutts video. – Goyllo Dec 25 '16 at 12:53

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