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FAQ: Webmaster Tools

#url-removal
Q: Why was my URL removal request denied?
A: Next to the denial you should see a icon or a link to learn more. This will provide details about why your specific removal was denied.

If you requested removal of a directory or an entire site, you have to have blocked that content with your robots.txt file in order for your request to be successful. (Returning 404s isn't enough.)

If you were requesting a cache removal, make sure you entered the URL of the page (e.g. http://www.example.com) and not the URL of the Google cache (e.g. http://209.85.273.132/search?q=cache:VE9bONM_7xsJ:www.example.com).

Make sure your URL met the requirements for removal. If you're still stumped, post a new question in our forum with the details, including what you were trying to remove and what the denial reason says.

#links
Q: I know I have [one / several / dozens of ] links that Webmaster Tools isn't showing. What gives?
A:
Although the link reports in Webmaster Tools are more comprehensive than doing a [link:example.com] query in Google search, they may not include 100% of all links that you know about. This is normal and should not be cause for alarm. Webmaster Tools does not always show 100% of the links that Google knows about, so just because a particular link doesn't appear in Webmaster Tools doesn't mean that Google doesn't know about that link, or that your site isn't "getting credit" for that link.

Note that the link report in Webmaster Tools only shows whether a site is linking to yours; it doesn't show which links are most significant, and it can include links that are nofollowed or that don't pass PageRank.

#404-errors
Q: Why am I receiving "Not found" crawl errors for URLs that don't exist on my site?
A: These errors occur when Googlebot tries to access a URL and receives a 404 (Not found) response. This can happen when Googlebot follows an invalid link, which may be mistyped or outdated. If you don't recognize these URLs and/or don't think they should be accessible, you can safely ignore these errors. If, however, you see URLs listed in the 'Not found' section that you recognize and would like crawled, you can click the URL to show more details that we hope you find helpful in identifying and fixing the errors.

If you want get rid of these errors faster, you can 301 redirect incorrect or outdated URLs to the current version of that content, and/or you can contact sites that link to these URLs and ask them to update their links. Note that submitting a URL removal request will not remove these errors from your report. The URL removal tool removes URLs from Google's search results, it does not remove errors from your Webmaster Tools account.

#404-errors-2
Q: I've corrected all the links pointing to pages that caused 404 errors. How long until the errors disappear from Webmaster Tools? Can I tell Google to update them?
A: These errors will naturally disappear from your Webmaster Tools account after awhile, as we stop crawling pages that repeatedly return 404. As long as the 'Last found' date is staying the same, you no longer need to worry about these errors in your report. You can also mark an error for a specific URL as fixed, however, unless you resolve the underlying issue, the marked crawl error will reappear the next time Googlebot crawls the URL. Note that submitting a URL removal request will not remove these errors from your report. The URL removal tool removes URLs from Google's search results, it does not remove errors from your Webmaster Tools account.

#strange-words
Q: Why do my Webmaster Tools stats show keywords that don't exist on my site? My site has nothing to do with porn or pharmaceuticals.
A: This can happen if your site has been hacked and spam has been uploaded. Sometimes the spam consists of files and sometimes it's dynamically generated—for example, using your .htaccess file. Review your site for suspicious files, and check the .htaccess file for suspicious code.  You may consider contacting your web host's technical support team for assistance if you believe your site has been hacked.

This can also happen if you recently acquired your domain. You can use a tool like the Wayback Machine to check whether these keywords are coming from content that was previously on that domain. If this is the case, your current keywords should appear in Webmaster Tools once we've recrawled your site.

Other forms of spam, such as comment spam from visitors, can appear in this report. Double-check areas of your site that accept user-generated content, and/or the output of any scripts that generate content automatically.
Keep in mind that this data may take some time to be updated (Googlebot needs to recrawl your pages). Also, since all content from your pages are used for this data, it's possible that it also contains words and phrases like "buy now" which may not be that relevant to your site on a whole.

#strange-words2
Q: Why do my Webmaster Tools stats show common phrases such as "buy now" that are not directly related to my site?
A: While some common words and phrases are filtered by Webmaster Tools, there may be some that you use which are not. Having these words or phrases listed in your Webmaster Tools account does not mean that our algorithms will view your site as being only relevant for those keywords. While Webmaster Tools mostly counts the occurences of words on your site, our web-search algorithms use well over 200 other factors for crawling, indexing and ranking. In other words: don't worry if you see keywords like this listed in your Webmaster Tools account.

Keep in mind that this data may take some time to be updated (Googlebot needs to recrawl your pages). Also, since all content from your pages are used for this data, it's possible that it also contains words and phrases like "buy now" which may not be that relevant to your site on a whole.

#tsq
Q: The Top Search Queries feature says that my site ranks #5 for [cookies], but when I search for [cookies] I see it ranking #8 (or I don't see it at all). What gives?
A:
Several things:
  • Different searchers can see different results, based on things like where they're searching from (geographic differences), personalized search factors, momentary fluctuations, etc. The Top Search Queries data is an average of these searches, so you may not see the same ranking when searching for that keyword right now.
  • By default, Top Search Queries data includes searches done on multiple Google properties (Web Search, Image Search, Mobile Search, etc.) and from many countries (google.com, google.co.uk, google.fr, etc.). Your site may rank highly in Image Search but not in Web Search, or may rank highly in Argentina but not in the US. All of this gets averaged together on the main Top Search Queries page. You can filter the data shown using the drop-down menus.
#no-data
Q: Why am I still seeing "Data is not available at this time" in Webmaster Tools? I've been verified for months.
A: Try looking at both the www and non-www versions of your site (e.g. www.example.com and example.com). If you're not looking at the same version as what's in Google's index, you may not see any data. Read this article for more details.

If neither version of your site shows data, you may need to get the word out about your site to get more people visiting and naturally linking to it. That is, of course, after you've built a website that people will want to visit and link to. Webmaster Tools provides data based on factors like site visits and links to your pages. The more links to your site on the web, the greater the chances of Google's crawler stopping by for a visit. Once Google starts crawling your site more often you'll notice that Webmaster Tools will begin to show more detailed data.

#robots-unreachable
Q: I see "robots.txt unreachable" errors in Webmaster Tools. What does that mean? What should I do?
A: If you have a robots.txt file, we'll obey the crawling rules listed in it. If /robots.txt returns a 404 (Not found) response on your site, we'll take that to mean that nothing on the site is blocked from crawling. But if we can't access your robots.txt file and we can't get a straightforward 404—that is, if we get an ambiguous response and can't tell whether or not a robots.txt file exists—we won't crawl any part of your site because we can't be sure that there isn't a file there asking us not to crawl certain parts of the site.

If you experience this problem, you may want to contact your web host to investigate the issue.
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