There is nothing worse for your online reputation than unwanted results about yourself/your company appearing high in a Google search. It is extremely embarrassing that your dirty laundry is there for all to see and – when we talk about prominence on Google search – also sadly very hard to avoid. At some point or another, someone might come after you.
Picture this: You go into a meeting with a potential partner, a job interview or even a date, with the uncomfortable sinking feeling that the other side has already Googled you, which they probably did if they are human (and you know what they saw). You conduct the meeting with a sense of being on the backfoot and in an attempt to win them over, you try too hard to impress them. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot.
Well, what if there was a way to remove unwanted search results from Google? Let us be the bearer of good news here, when we tell you that there actually is. Want to know more? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? Read on…
Never stop Googling yourself
However, first thing’s first. You need to spot the problem before solving it. How often do you Google yourself or your brand’s name? Do you try different combinations of keywords, and check various geolocations (according to your target audience)? Are you aware of the feedback you are receiving on your social media pages? Do you get to check Google News every once in a while as well?
Only via a thorough investigation will you find the soft spots that require your attention. Now, let’s take a look at ways you can make unflattering information disappear.
Results you create
We’ve all been in that situation. We post something on Facebook without thinking twice. We Tweet and then notice an embarrassing typo only 2 weeks later. We write an angry review on Yelp, only to sleep it over and to decide that we went too far with the criticism.
The great thing about this ‘spur of the moment’ content is that there is (usually) a delete button. However, this doesn’t solve all your problems, since often that content has already found its way to Google search. Don’t worry, though, because you can remove non-existing or outdated content, by approaching Google directly.
This process is straightforward and simple, but note that you can only use this option if the content you want to remove doesn’t load. If you deleted it from the internet, that shouldn’t be a problem, though. But what about responses or talkbacks that you received for the content? Do they get removed too? That’s a bit more tricky. Read on to understand.
It’s crazy how many times social media, especially Twitter, comes back to bite people who then become celebrities overnight for all the wrong reasons. What’s even crazier is how fast these mean talkbacks and comments gain traction – and even dominance on Google search results.
If you think you’ve posted anything you shouldn’t have, delete it before it becomes a bigger issue. True, this is not an airtight solution, since some social media networks keep the feedback alive even after you’ve deleted your original content. However, without access to your original text, image or video, the context is also gone from the responses – and these “contextless” bits and pieces tend to disappear faster from Google searches.
Maybe you haven’t done anything wrong, you just don’t want your phone number and/or address online for the whole world to see. Totally legitimate. The problem is that some websites scrape from all kinds of places and display it anyway. Google, not knowing whether your details were obtained consensually or not, most often just goes along, assuming that if it is a problem, you will take measures to remove it.
Well, you can. First of all we recommend contacting the specific website which published your details and asking for them to be removed. If that doesn’t work, though, you can always contact Google and flag this information as personal and published without consent. While Google tries to be prompt in its responses, this process can take a few days.
In terms of inaccurate and not up-to-date results, the process is pretty much the same. It could be that your brand’s address or phone number is listed as an old one, it could even be that you’re no longer a bachelor/bachelorette and you want the world to know, it could be that your company has a new CEO (or that you’re a new CEO of a company – congrats, if that is the case).
Once again, start off by contacting the website where the inaccurate information appears. If it is not updated, the website will probably have no issue making changes. Contact Google only if you see that your efforts are not bearing fruit.
This is where it gets a bit complicated. Sometimes you can legally require content to be removed from Google, and it doesn’t matter who is in violation (the website that published the content or Google for displaying it). If this bad information is used to blackmail you, for example, you have grounds to report the negative result to Google and they will remove it for you. This is a gross violation of their terms and conditions.
There are several laws and regulations put in place to determine what is illegally displayed on Google, when, where and in what context. However, each country additionally has its own set of restrictions and Google must abide by them, so it is important to realize what arena you are playing in, and what the rules of the game are.
For example, a DMCA request can be made to Google when you believe that your copyright has been violated in some form. In Europe, the right to be forgotten is a tool that can assist you in removing all types of content. However, since this is an official legal progress, we advise that you check all the legal requirements to make sure you fulfill the criteria required for a successful claim. Otherwise, you might end up not only with your request denied, but also with a financial loss (not to mention the time wasted).
But wait, there’s more
There are other ways to remove information from Google, and each case should be assessed separately. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Also, there is no 100% success guarantee here. If unwanted results about you still appear prominently in search, then what you need is online reputation management (ORM). As professionals in the field, we can tell you that there is a chance that you won’t be able to completely remove a search result. However, ORM experts do have the tools and know-how to shove it down and out of the first page of Google search and, between us, who even goes beyond that?
Want to know more about search result removal? Curious about what ORM can do for you? Contact us at Buzz Dealer. We can have a chat, assess your situation and see what we are able to do for you.