We’ve all made missteps in our lives, and sometimes those missteps wind up on the web. Google searches make many of us feel helpless – like you cannot control the information about you.
The embarrassing college photos gracing social media, the unfortunate arrest, the business mistake — each of these lapses in judgment or honest mistakes can live for years on the internet and continue to haunt you.
With the clear importance of having a strong online reputation in 2020, a common refrain we hear is: “I want to know how to remove my name from Google search results. Can you help?”
The short answer is No. We can’t delete those results, but we can replace those negative articles, regrettable social network posts, and other pieces of sensitive personal information with positive content that you actually want people to click on, otherwise called online reputation management.
First, your name isn’t really on Google. Technically, it is of course — you may be looking at it in a search result in another browser tab right now. What Google actually does, of course, is to gather together a list of all the sites on the internet that contain your name. Essentially, it’s only the messenger, and as the old saying goes, you can’t shoot it.
There are a handful of special situations where Google itself will work with you to delete unwanted content. These include things like explicit, non-consensual content or content that would fit the definition of doxxing. The vast majority of the time, however, the Google removal tool will not delete your name from its search results for you. In fact, Google will always try to show some sort of result related to your name or brand. That’s its job: to search the WWW for all traces of you or your business whenever someone asks.
Don’t give up hope, however; there are several great strategies you can use to suppress negative search listings, helping you restore your hard-earned online reputation.
In certain circumstances, such as in cases where someone else posts a slanderous article or other untrue information about you on the web, there may be specific legal actions that you can take to delete it.
Before that, however, your first step should be to contact the owner of that URL and tell them that you would like the offending content removed. Sometimes, a simple “please” is quite effective. A website is not required to remove embarrassing personal information about you unless legally ordered to do so, but a polite request removal can often result in positive outcomes such as the owner permanently removing content. Once the information has been removed, search engines can no longer index the offending page.
In other cases, a legal request to remove the content may be required. Cyber libel laws vary from state to state, and often depend not only on what state you live in but also what state the person making the defamatory statements calls home. As such, you’ll need to enlist the aid of an experienced attorney to get something done. It’s worth noting that the Communications Decency Act almost completely exempts internet service providers from defamation lawsuits, but if someone slanders you online, you do have rights. That disparaging text is not set in stone.
If you search for your name on Google right now, the odds are good that you’ll eventually come across some of your basic personal information, such as your address. You’re also likely to find a plethora of sites that will provide you with even more of these personal details, such as your email address, social media handles, or family members’ names and email addresses if you’re willing to pony up a few bucks. Some even try to tempt potential customers with the promise of even more sensitive content like images, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other data that compromises your privacy.
These public directories are pervasive, but the good news is that many of them are responsive to removing negative information from their sites which will, in turn, remove that information from Google search listings.
Often, the best way to make sure nobody sees negative search results associated with your name is to bury them and replace them a positive content blitz. This two-pronged approach is called an Online Reputation Management content suppression campaign, or ORM for short.
Businesses typically rely on the web to connect with customers. Their online reputations are critical for continued growth and success. That’s why a disgruntled former employee, an angry customer, or someone with a grudge can easily ruin your online standing with a few keystrokes. While such digital pettiness is bad internet form, it doesn’t stop it from happening.
Individuals also rely on positive search results for success, particularly when trying to land a new job. Deep into the interview process, the last things that most job seekers want their potential employer to find online are negative search engine results like an embarrassing photo, inflammatory post, or record of arrest.
What can you do in these situations? The fact that you broke the law when you were 22 isn’t slander. It happened. You can’t exactly contact your hometown courthouse or local newspaper to remove the results either. In instances like these, it’s likely time to call in professional help. An ORM campaign restores a damaged reputation using proven content-development methods.
An online reputation management company is essentially a doctor for your dot-com presence. Let’s say you own a stationery shop that had a run of bad reviews last year due to a printing error that wasn’t even your fault. Ouch. Now those negative reviews pop up in the top results when customers do a Google search for your business’s name. Double ouch.
Reputation management strategies would combat that by flooding the internet with fresh, relevant and positive content about you and your extensive offering of cards, paper, and writing supplies.
A positive brand-building campaign can include a variety of strategies, such as the following:
This is just the tip of the ORM iceberg. The goal is for Google and the other search engines to index the fresh, positive content, which will then push down any negative search results. In a matter of weeks, or perhaps months, the negative listings will no longer be on the first page of a given search.
Working with an ORM firm can also aid you in a crisis. If your brand is the subject of a sudden attack from social media bots, for example, professionals will work with you step by step to resolve the issue promptly.
It is recommended to proactively include reputation management in any SEO campaign to protect your brand’s image as marketing dollars increase.
So far, we’ve looked mainly at how you can use ORM to improve an already-negative online presence as the result of bad reviews or a regrettable incident from your past. Brands who want to remove potentially harmful information from Google aren’t the only ones who can benefit from ORM, though.
If your business has a largely positive reputation online, you can still reap the rewards of ORM. If you’re on top, it can help you stay on top by monitoring third-party websites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks for mentions of your name. That way, if bad press or a less-than-stellar review does surface, your ORM can work with you to handle it immediately.
This is one of the questions we get asked most: How long will it take for negative personal information to be removed from Google?
That’s virtually impossible to say with any modicum of certainty, and here’s why: Every brand is different. Therefore, every brand requires different ORM strategies. There is no “one size fits all” approach to ORM – at least not by any ORM firm worth your time and resources.
How long it takes to see positive information from Google supplant negative information from Google depends. For some, it may be a matter of months. For others, it might take up to a year. While an ORM campaign is the fastest way to restore your good name online, it isn’t a Band-Aid. With proper maintenance, it offers lasting results.
It can be frustrating to learn that your online reputation has been damaged. Bad reviews or unflattering press can drive customers toward your competitors, eating into your revenue stream and performing potentially irreparable harm. Recovering a damaged reputation is the key to retaining customers and attracting new ones. While there are several methods of restoring negatively impacted standing, working with experienced online reputation management professionals is the ideal solution.
At Internetzone I, we’ve been helping people improve their Google search results for years. In 2019, Business Daily featured us as one of the Best Online Reputation Management Firms of the year, helping us contact and connect with more businesses and individuals than ever before. There may be no completely satisfying answer to “How do I remove my name from Google search?” but with time-honored techniques and old-fashioned hard work, our trusted professionals can put your business back into the positive frame that helps you grow.
Contact us today to receive your free reputation management analysis and follow us online to learn more.