This post was most recently updated on June 22, 2021
Removing or deleting unwanted search results or other links and content from the Internet requires different strategies depending on the type of information you want to remove and its source.
The internet is an ever-expanding world of its own. Profiles, blogs, articles, videos, comments, likes, tweets… there’s a plethora of content and information living behind the screen. In this day and age we’re used to being connected with friends and family online in one way or another.
That overflow of connection can live past social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes information can grow and escalate into something we never intended to create or share. So what happens when your Google search results end up handing over some very personal information or fake online news to the masses?
The strange thing about the internet is that once you post something, it can live forever. Sometimes we post things we forget about. But with the help of the internet, the information has a longer shelf life even after we no longer need or want it… like those Facebook memories from 10 years ago with your ex.
Even if you deleted a post from the internet, it does not guarantee it no longer exists in another format. Your post or image may have been saved, shared, or duplicated in some way by another online user.
For some people, the internet can be much harsher than just casual memories of you and your ex that you didn’t want to see. If you enter your name into Google and see unflattering information being splattered across the first page of your search results, what do you do?
Sections to Jump To:
Why Remove Something from The Internet?
Your online reputation speaks before you have the chance to when someone Googles your name for the first time before they get to meet you face-to-face. With that being said, you do have the ability to make sure your online reputation frames your brand in a positive light.
Business reputations and personal reputations online can affect the opinions of your friends, coworkers, bosses, investors, college admissions officers, customers, clients, and even employees.
Personal reputation is for individuals looking to better themselves online in order to create a stronger online presence that supports their personal brand. This can help the individual in both personal and professional settings.
Removing unwanted search results and information from Google
For some people it might get so out of hand they just want to delete themselves from the internet entirely, but is that really your only option? Do you really want to throw out all the good with the bad, just because of a little hiccup? Positive search results from Google can help improve your business or personal brand’s online image.
In order to fully understand the process of how to remove something from Google search, you need to understand the connection between the information and the original source, or “publisher.”
Google is one of the most popular search engines used to connect a query with the most prevalent search engine results associated with that search term. The web links are coming from an outside source; a blog, article, forum, social media profile, newspaper, etc. that mentions your search term directly. That original source is called the publisher, Google is just your paperboy.
Source: Broad and Search
How Does Google Work?
As Google has evolved over the years, there are different types of results in which content can appear. Here is a list of the different types of information that can appear in Google search results:
Google local pack – displays local businesses in the area near where the search was performed. With Google local pack, online users can see reviews from your Google My Business.
Featured snippet – Google provides snippets from content that best answers a user’s search query., This typically appears at the top of the page. The content in a featured snippet can be displayed as a short paragraph, chart, or a list (both ordered and unordered)
Knowledge graph – this appears on the right side and typically displays information about a person or business from a website online. Is very common to see information display from a corresponding Wikipedia page.
Images – Google displays images from any website, and typically matches the online search with the text before and after an image, as well as the image alt text.
Videos – the videos tab can pull videos from your website, or a website like YouTube.
Now that we know that our main source of information is the publisher, let’s come up with a plan of action to have your information removed from Google search results.
1. Contact your source directly to remove the information
Have no fear, there is still hope to have your information removed! Don’t get discouraged, you can get more with honey than you do with vinegar. Your first step should be contacting the source directly with a call or email to notify them of your interest in removing the content.
Contact the publisher by phone or email
Sometimes, a simple phone call can do the trick. Go directly to the source and avoid a run-around with other departments. These sources have the ability to take down or edit your information directly depending on their authority within the department.
Contacting any legal advisor in the office might give you more of a headache than answers and results. Bringing up a legal case directly involves much more insight and attention, which we’ll get to later in this article.
If you’re unable to find the direct phone number of the company sources listed above, don’t be afraid to call their general line or front desk. From there, you can be transferred to the department you’re looking to contact. If you’re unable to speak with them directly, leave a voicemail and be persistent in getting your answer. Persistence is key.
Contact the publisher by email
Contacting a publisher by email is no less important. Even if you call them directly and don’t get a response, a follow-up email is always a good idea. This will let them know you mean business and that this is an important matter for you.
Try to get a direct email from any one of the sources above and send a concise, polite email regarding your interest with your contact information to further discuss the matter. Just as much as persistence is key, keeping your contact polite and direct is equally as impactful.
2. Documenting your negative search results
When contacting your source directly to remove negative content from Google or social media, it’s very important to be ready to support your case with proper documentation. Make sure you identify and document, visually and in writing, the information you want to be removed, whether it be defaming, liable, or offensive. Gather links and take screenshots, compiling the information into a clean and concise document which you can send to the publisher and site owner if necessary.
When compiling your documentation ask yourself:
Is my personal information published?
Is the information defamatory and/or libelous?
Does the article contain personal information of a minor?
Are there trademark or copyright laws against publishing the information?
Does the article create an inaccurate or false image of me?
Is the publisher sharing the information against my consent?
Do you need a lawyer to remove something from the internet
Any type of information that is prohibited on Google, regardless of publisher or web page owner is also very worth noting. This information can stem from a variety of factors that go against their Content and User contribution Policy. The following is directly prohibited from Google under their “Prohibited and Restricted Content” page:
Spam and fake content
Sexually explicit content
Dangerous and Derogatory content
Impersonation or Identity theft
Conflict of interest
If the information you want to be removed from the internet falls under the prohibited categories of Google or has escalated beyond the point of being able to control, a lawyer could very well be necessary.
You may also be stuck in a situation where information like your social security number, banking information, address, or other personal and restricted information has been shared and circulated. In which you would also need to contact a lawyer in order to gain control over the situation legally.
What to do when you can’t remove something from the internet
If the article, image, video, post, or comment you want to be removed does not fall under any of those guidelines, you may just need to take a different approach. You’re not always going to get the answer you want. Some journalists and publishers will be very adamant about not deleting the content online that they worked so hard to create, especially since they take their freedom of speech quite seriously in their profession.
If you’re trying to remove something from the internet, and the type of content you want to be taken down isn’t quite tipping the scale, you might actually be lucky – there might be a different answer.
Don’t panic if the publisher denies you a take-down of content. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! There are several ways to suppress negative search results, which are also known as burying results. With the suppression technique, you’ll have control over which sites you choose to outweigh the negative content or articles, and rank higher.
One of the best ways to suppress negative search results is by making your own website. If you’re not a web designer, making your own website might seem out of reach. But there are plenty of programs out there that can even help the least tech-savvy individuals create a stunning website in a few easy steps.
Simple website builders like Wix and Squarespace allow you to choose from various themes and templates and add your own content. Make sure the url contains your name, and incorporate pages with your interests, achievements, and past work. You can also link to your social profiles to create a linking network and move up your search results.
Create a blog
Just like a website, a blog is a great way to get new, fresh online content out on the web that is associated with your name. Blogger is a great source for creating a simple yet effective blog post that can help you boost your online reputation and suppress unwanted search results.
Keep your content in line with your own personal brand, and write about things you have knowledge and interest in. Again, try to connect your blog to a URL that contains your full name so Google recognizes the new link associated with your name.
Utilize social media
Utilizing social media is a great way to add new links and articles associated with your search term and boost your results, burying the content you’re trying to remove from Google. Creating new social accounts and regaining activity on under-utilized accounts shows Google that your name is directly associated with those current platforms. Some user-friendly yet high impact social media platforms include:
Google operates on web traffic and optimization
The more accounts you create and link together, the stronger your personal network becomes. Google operates on traffic and optimization and will recognize the activity on your new accounts based on their domain authority. In turn, they end up higher in your search results, making the article or content you are attempting to suppress move further and further down in your search results.
All you’re doing is reinforcing your name with new, truthful, and admirable content that is a more accurate representation of you for someone who Googles your name.
Hire a suppression and removal professional
If your online reputation is in dire need of professional help, hiring a business that employs trained specialists to either suppress or remove unwanted articles and content, could be the answer.
Removing something from the internet or Google search results can be a large task that becomes much more difficult than it might seem. However, hiring a suppression and removal professional just further proves you are ready to take control of your online reputation. Don’t wait any longer, start today with a free consultation and we’ll help you get your results back on track.