Published Google Docs Documents To Appear In Google Search
How would you announce a major change to a product that is likely going to affect a large userbase?
Probably not in the same way that Google announced upcoming changes to their popular document management and editing platform Google Docs.
In a recent post on the Google Docs Help Forum Marie, a Google employee, notified users of an upcoming change to Google Docs.
Google plans to index all published documents from Google Docs users if the documents are linked from a public (that means crawled by Google Bot) website.
What this means is that Google Docs users might find their documents in the Google index even if they never had the intention for this.
The main problem with the procedure is the following: Google Docs users cannot explicitly block their documents from being indexed. Even worse is the fact that there is not an option to see if their documents have been publicly linked.
Only documents that have been explicitly published by selecting the 'Publish as web page' or 'Publish/embed' option and are linked from a public accessible website will be indexed by Google Search. The only option at this point in time is to undo this from the same menu.
A click on the Stop Publishing button will prevent the indexing of the document in Google Search. It means on the other hand that the document will no longer be accessible if it has been linked from a website or is accessed by others through other means.
Update: The notification on the Google Docs help forum is no longer available. You find the feature mentioned on this Google Docs page however:
Anyone with the link is a great setting if you want to give easy access to information to a bunch of people (as long as the contents of the doc aren't sensitive). For example, if you want to share a syllabus and a book list, you could put that info into doc set to anyone with the link and send your students the link. Docs in this category are generally not indexed by search engines, but they may show up in search results if the doc URL appears on another webpage that is indexed.
Public on the web (must be enabled by Google Apps administrator)
Set a doc to public if you want to make it publicly available to anyone. Public docs may get indexed by search engines (like Google Web Search), can show up in search results, and anyone who finds the web address of the doc can access it. If you also select the 'Allow anyone to edit' option, anyone that finds the document will also be able to view and edit your document.