This post was most recently updated on March 25, 2022.
Removing or deleting something from the Internet requires different strategies depending on the type of information you want to remove.
The internet is an ever-expanding world of its own. Profiles, web pages, blogs, articles, videos, comments, likes, tweets… there’s a plethora of content and information living behind the screen. Google and other search engines can show negative, harmful content, that is bad for your reputation.
Sometimes this 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 or false information online to the public?
For some people, the internet can be harsh. 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?
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4 Steps to Remove Incorrect Information from Google Search
It can be really frustrating to find unwanted articles about yourself on the first page of Google Search results. The good news is that you can take a few steps to remove or suppress unwanted content off page one of Google.
Contact the source directly to remove the information
Document your negative search results
Change the keywords in the negative content
Suppress unwanted search results
Why Remove Something from The Internet?
Your online reputation tells a story before you have the chance to introduce yourself online personally. So, if someone uses a search engine and finds less-than-ideal information about you online, you might look at options to get it removed. With that being said, you do have the ability to make sure your online reputation frames your brand in a positive light.
Online reputation can impact the opinions of your friends, coworkers, bosses, investors, college admissions officers, customers, clients, and even employees.
Business reputation has everything to do with how your brand is perceived online. A strong online presence is significant for local and small businesses in competitive industries.
Personal reputation is for individuals looking to better themselves online to create a stronger online presence that supports their personal brand. This can help the individual in both personal and professional settings.
Remove unwanted search results and information from Google
Some people might want to entirely delete themselves from the internet, but is that your only option? Do you want to throw out all the good with the bad just because of one little hiccup?
In most cases, you will not need to delete yourself online entirely – instead, you can focus on removing a few articles, web pages, videos, or images. To fully understand how to remove something from a Google search, you need to understand the connection between the information and the original source, or “publisher.”
Google connects your search query with the most relevant search results associated with your search term. The Google results show web links that are coming from an outside source; a blog, article, forum, social media profile, etc., that mentions your search term directly. That original source is called the publisher, and Google is just the paperboy.
Deleting Content from the Internet
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 taken off from Google search results. If there is an article, video, or image on someone else’s website, follow these tips.
1. Contact the source directly to remove the information
The first option you can take is to submit a removal request to the owner or publisher of the content. More often than not, the publisher will have no legal duty to remove your unwanted information from their site. Usually, the websites’ Terms and Conditions or Terms of Service page will outline their guidelines on posting. Most of the time, if you post it willingly, the website has ownership of that content since it is legally their platform.
Have no fear; there is still hope to have your information removed! Your first step should be to contact the source directly by calling or emailing to notify them of your interest in removing the content.
Contact the publisher by phone
Sometimes, a simple phone call can do the trick. Go directly to the source and avoid a run-around with other departments. These sources can take down or edit your information directly depending on their authority within the department:
Contact the publisher by email
Contacting a publisher via 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 by using a tool like Hunter, or even just a simple Google search. Then, send a concise, polite email regarding your interest and contact information to discuss the matter further. Just as much as persistence is key, keeping your message polite and direct is equally as impactful.
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 that you can send to the publisher and site owner if necessary. This is an important step in your attempt to get content taken down.
When compiling your documentation, ask yourself:
Is my personal information published?
Is the information defamatory and/or libelous?
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?
3. Change the keywords in the negative content
If you contact the publisher and they refuse to remove the content in question, your next option is to ask them to change the specific words and phrases you’d like removed to terms that are a bit broader and not so closely related to you or your brand. The web page or blog is less likely to appear for negative searches, which can be a good alternative to deleting the content online entirely.
For example, if you’re on the media team for Target and you see a headline that reads “Target to Discontinue Fan-Favorite Product Line,” you’re likely going to want to make the article go away.
If the publisher isn’t willing to take the article or web page down from the internet, you can politely ask them to change certain keywords that disassociate your brand in search results. For the Target example, you could ask the publisher to change the title to “Large Retailer to Discontinue Fan-Favorite Product Line.”
You can take this one step further and ask them to change any reference to Target throughout the piece to non-branded terms like “retailer” or “merchandiser” or “shop” which will help suppress the content even further down in search results.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Remove Something Online?
When is it time to get a lawyer involved? If you wish to remove content online, or even in dire situations, delete yourself from the internet, and hiring a lawyer can be helpful.
Any type of information prohibited on Google, regardless of publisher or web page owner, is also worth noting. This information can stem from a variety of factors that go against their Content and User contribution Policy. Whether it’s an article, social media post, image, or video, 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 it, 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 this case, you would also need to contact a lawyer 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 might need to take a different approach.
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. Instead of deleting something from the internet, there is an online reputation management technique called suppression that can be used.
Suppress unwanted search results
Don’t panic if the publisher denies you a take-down of content. If you can’t beat them, join them! There are several ways to suppress negative search results, 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.
The idea is to either create new website links or enrich old ones to regain authority over your search results. This technique proves effective given thatpeople rarely click on the second page of Google search results.
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.
Ultimately, creating a website is an effective strategy that replaces the need for online content removal. Simple website builders like Wix and Squarespace allow you to choose from various themes and templates and add your own content. Ensure 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.
Strategy 2: 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 on the internet, used 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.
Strategy 3: Utilize social media
Utilizing social media is a great alternative to removing content online. It is an excellent 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 online accounts. Some user-friendly yet high-impact social media platforms include:
Hire a Professional to Suppress and Remove Online Content
If your online reputation is in need of professional help, hiring a business that specializes in the suppression and removal of unwanted articles and content online could be the answer.
Removing something from the internet or Google search results can be a large task for just one person. However, hiring asuppression and removal professional can ease the headache of taking control of your online reputation.
Don’t wait any longer. Start today with a freereputation consultation, and we’ll help you get your results back on track.