This may be slightly old news, as I received this information from Google five days ago but only got around to reading it today, but it is definitely worth being aware of.

In a few weeks (no specific date given) Google search bots will start crawling Google docs that “have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website… which means they can appear in search results you see on and other search engines.”

Whilst Google are excited by this change, it’s worth noting that documents you may have thought private, or at least vaguely so, will be findable if you, or someone unbeknownst to you, has put a link on the web to a Google doc/spreadsheet/presentation you’ve created or contributed to. So it’s worth checking the settings of any document where this might cause problems.

Here’s the email with more:

Hello Google Apps admin,

We wanted to let you know about some important changes around published documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

In a few weeks, documents, spreadsheets and presentations that have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website will be crawled and indexed, which means they can appear in search results you see on and other search engines. There is no change for documents published inside your organization or shared privately.

If you wish to prevent users from publishing documents to the public internet, we now offer an admin control in the Google Apps Control Panel that allows users to continue to ‘share documents outside the domain’ without allowing them to publish the files to the public Internet. To change this setting, follow these steps:

– Login to your admin control panel
– Select Service Settings > Docs
– Un-check the option ‘Users can publish documents to the public internet’

If a user does not want their published Docs to be crawled, then the user must unpublish them by doing the following:

– Go to the ‘Share tab’
– For documents and spreadsheets, choose ‘Publish as web page’. For presentations choose ‘Publish/embed’
– Click on the button that says ‘Stop publishing’

For more details, please see this Help Center article:

This is a very exciting change as your published docs linked to from public websites will reach a much wider audience of people!


The Google Apps Team

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Enterprise product or account.

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Note: The reason for copying and pasting the email here it here is that the link given doesn’t repeat the information or explain things as explicitly.

1 Comment

  1. I am afraid I am still of the old school, I don’t like putting anything on the internet that I wouldn’t want the world to have access to. I don’t even use my real name most of the time. I loathe using credit card details but have succumbed to paypal. I think there is a dangerous world out there and caution is needed until you have tested and trusted the gatekeeper of your data. I am happy to trust google up to a point, but this is scary news to me. Big Brotha calling? or the chance as they say to reach an even wider audience. Care needed. Responsibility for one’s actions but also of the team. Worries me that docs which aren’t ‘finished’ may be accessible if collaborators aren’t aware… O my.
    thanks for the warning.

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