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A familiar route that you and your mouse would often take has disappeared. If you haven’t yet made this discovery as it was only verified late last week, I must warn that you will either be overcome with nostalgia for something previously taken for granted, or you will bid a fond good riddance to an option that used to confuse and infuriate you.

To find out which option I am talking about, open your Webmaster tools, navigate to the Index status report, click on the advance settings tab and to your shock, horror or even to your satisfaction, the ‘not selected’ option has been removed.

Historically, this has been quite a contentious filter among webmasters; some found it useful, others were left scratching their heads over its variety of meanings. Previously this somewhat ambiguous term could have helped to determine a number of issues:

  • Duplicate or thin content
  • Duplicate URLs
  • A rel=”canonical” to another page
  • A redirect to another page

In many non-specific ways this was an effective tool to identify a number of crawl issues, and webmasters have taken to blogs to lament its passing – which begs the question: if this tool was so confusing, why are swarms of industry professionals mourning its loss? Google’s John Mueller echoed the usability of the feature not so long ago:

“The number of “not selected” URLs is based on URLs that are either substantially similar or redirecting — if you have changed your site’s URL structure and have redirected those URLs, then that would be a good explanation for that. That curve would also be fine and not a signal of a problem”.

But, in confirmation of Google’s decision to remove the option, he then contradicted this statement in response to a question on Google +:

“Yep, this was removed on purpose since it was causing more confusion than actually helping webmasters with their sites”

Was ‘not selected’ actually a useful Webmaster Tool?

I’ve been enthralled by the number of commenters on similar blog posts, expressing their annoyance at such a vague reason for the filter’s removal. Did you think ‘not selected’ really was a useful tool, and what other options in Google’s Webmaster Tools are you now using or have always used to identify crawl issues?