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Restricting answers that are visible by URL
Answer ID 5481   |   Last Review Date 12/18/2018

How did Google index my answers that should not be available from that interface?

Environment:

All versions using Customer Portal when restricting answer end user page availability by product, category, or language.

Resolution:

To restrict answers from being indexed by a search engine (available by URL) you should create an answer access level that is not available on that interface.

1. Create a new access level that restricts visibility to the interface. Answers that are not restricted by access level or status are visible on the end user pages.  Answers restricted by product, category or language will not be available in searches or reports but will be visible on all interfaces by the answer detail URL (<sitename>/app/answers/detail/a_id/####).

For information on creating answer access levels, refer to Answer ID 208: Specifying answer access levels to display on the end-user pages.

If you wish to restrict answers to your agents (or by SLA) refer to Answer ID 1838: Setting up privileged access.

For information on how product and category visibility affects answers, refer to Answer ID 1112: Publishing an answer to the end-user pages.

2. Assign the new access level to the answers that should not be indexed.

Note that it may be helpful to create a report that lists answers by Product or Category to make bulk editing of answers simpler. You can create a report that includes Product Hierarchy or Category Hierarchy (but not both) and list the answers that should be assigned the new access level.  Add the answers.access_id field to show the access level in the report. Note that the answers.access_id field is not available for edits with the Inline Editing functionality.

3. Test the answer availability with the answer detail URL (<interface>.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/##).

4. Request that the pages be removed from the search engine's index.  Refer to Answer ID 4575: Google indexed our site and we want it removed for more information.

Cause:

Answers are restricted in searches on the end user pages by a report filter called "special settings".  This report filter is responsible for filtering answers by product, category and language. 

It is often assumed that if the end user page reports do not return an answer that the answer is not visible on the interface.  However, the availability of an answer using the answers/detail page is set only by the answer status and access level. 

Search engines often "guess" the URL of an answer and will include the URL in search results.  Therefore access levels or privileged access should be used to control visibility of answers on a multiple interface/brand site.

Refer to the following table for more information on answer visibility:

Visible in Searches

Visible by URL

Status

Access level

Product, Category and/or Language

No No Not Public Any Any
No No (may require login) Public Not visible to interface Any
No Yes Public Visible to interface Not visible to interface
Yes Yes Public Visible to interface Visible to interface

Notes:
"Visible in searches" is from an end user report using the special settings filter. 
"Visible by URL" is from the URL <interface>.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/##


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