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Smart Passive Income #254 – Security through Obscurity

Pat describes in great detail how to tell Google not to index a certain page, and how to remove it from Google if you do not want it there …

For the first part you create a file called “robots.txt” and place it on  your web site e.g. with the following content:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /NAME_OF_THE_PAGE_YOU_WANT_TO_KEEP_HIDDEN

Most likely your service provider will have an online tool to create this file automatically. If not, there are tons of free tools online …

Nevertheless, please note this does not keep Google or any other search engine away from your “secret pages”. It just asks “in a friendly way” not to do so … Google might follow your pleading, others might not … the fun part is that you can actually browse those files yourself and you will know immediately which sites the owner of that webpage does not want to show everybody 😉

For the second part, Pat’s description is a little bit outdated … Just google for “remove page from index” and you will find an up to date documentation …

… again this helps for pages indexed by Google, other search engines might not provide such a service …

Why did Pat actually want to remove a page from Google?

Normally – in the business of internet marketing – you might think that the opposite is the case, we like to get indexed by Google …

Google had indexed Pat’s download page … people just had to visit that very page to get the download link for his eBook(s?) …

This is very bad if it is an eBook you charge money for, but it’s still bad if it is one which you give away for free in exchange for an email address for your newsletter …

In both situations it is a really bad idea to protect your property just by not telling everybody where to find it. … there is a term for it: Security through Obscurity … and it does not really work …

Imagine you lock your house door, and keep the door in your backyard open … nobody knows, so you are completely safe, aren’t you? Nobody would dare to go around your house and enter from the back entrance …

Please, please, please – you wouldn’t do something like that in real life – please don’t do that on the Internet …

Even when Google follows your request, not to tell other people about your page … what happens when you provide the link to that page to your “customers” … what keeps them from sharing your link?

If you want to protect your pages, protect them using passwords:

  • … use different usernames and passwords for every single user
  • … use the email address of your customers as their usernames
  • … use scripts that do that automatically for you …

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