Have you ever Googled yourself and been devastated at what showed up?
You are not alone. In fact, over half the population has unwanted search results.
Negative content can have severe consequences for both individuals and businesses. Whether it's an outdated article, a bad review, or inaccurate information, such content can seriously affect our careers and personal lives.
Let's explore some methods to remove online content and better understand how they work.
There are several ways to remove harmful content from the internet.
Your situation will determine the best way to remove unwanted online information. This includes information about the content and location of the data.
To remove harmful content posted on a website where you have control, log in and take necessary action. What actions can you take if you don't have control over the website?
90% of people who search for your business will only view the first page in search results.
- What if you observe adverse effects?
- What are your choices when encountering defamatory and libelous content on the first page?
- How can you eliminate negative news articles from Google searches?
You can challenge this by requesting the removal of the content, and Google will usually remove it from search results pages within a few days.
You have a few options to remove search results.
1. Google's "Results About You" Feature
Launched in 2022, Google's "Results About You" is a powerful tool empowering users to manage their online presence. It primarily serves two functions: monitoring and removing personal information displayed in Google search results.
It's free and easy to use. Here's how it works:
- Access the tool: Through the Google app or search results page, navigate to "Results About You." https://myactivity.google.com/results-about-you
- Provide information: Enter your name and the personal details you want to monitor, such as your phone number, email address, or home address.
- Receive alerts: Google scans the web and alerts you if it finds results containing your specified information.
- Review and take action: Analyze the results displayed. You can request removal through the tool for eligible content, like outdated contact information, or contact the website owner for additional options.
While it has limitations, it is a great option to start cleaning up bad search results.
2. Contacting the original publisher or hosting company.
While directly requesting content deletion from the author might seem the most straightforward approach, it's often fraught with potential pitfalls.
Authors, understandably, have a strong emotional attachment to their work and may be hesitant to remove it, even if it's no longer relevant or accurate.
This can lead to negative consequences, such as the author updating the post with a stronger stance against your request, potentially boosting its visibility in search results.
They might also write a follow-up piece criticizing your attempts to silence their voice.
At NewReputation, we've found a more effective strategy lies in bypassing the author and approaching the publisher or platform hosting the content.
Publishers, unlike authors, are less emotionally invested and often have established policies regarding content removal based on legal considerations, accuracy, or outdated information.
This allows for a more objective and professional discussion, potentially leading to a more favorable outcome. By focusing on the factual inaccuracies or potential harm caused by the content, you can present a compelling case for its removal without engaging in a meaningless back and forth with the author.
3. Ask the website to insert a no-index tag.
While removing content from a website entirely is ideal, requesting a "no-index" tag is a less invasive option. This simple yet effective method instructs search engines to disregard specific content and exclude it from their search results. Here's how it works:
Get approval from the website owner:
Begin by politely contacting the website owner or administrator. Clearly explain your request for a "no-index" tag to be applied to the content in question, emphasizing your desire to protect your privacy and online reputation.
Implementing the tag:
If they agree, they'll insert a line of code, known as a "meta tag," into the webpage's HTML code.
It appears as follows: <meta name="robots" content="noindex">.
This tag effectively signals search engines to skip over that specific content during indexing.
It's important to note that the content will remain live on the website. However, it will no longer appear in search results when individuals search for your name or related keywords.
Utilizing "no-index" tags allows you to control your online presence without requiring complete content removal. If the website owner agrees to apply the code to their website, consider this a win.
4. Ask Google to remove the content from search results.
While Google generally prioritizes indexing all publicly available information, there are specific scenarios where it will take action to remove content from search results.
This removal, distinct from the "Results About You" feature, caters to sensitive situations where the content poses potential harm or violates legal regulations.
These scenarios typically fall into three categories: personal information, legal concerns, and public interest.
Let's delve into these scenarios and the subsequent processes:
Google recognizes the right to privacy and allows individuals to request the removal of personal information like private addresses, phone numbers, or financial data exposed through hacked databases or outdated websites. The removal process typically involves submitting a detailed request through Google's dedicated tool, outlining the specific information and justifications for removal. Google reviews these requests on a case-by-case basis, and successful removals may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity and the website's cooperation.
If demonstrably false or misleading information about an individual appears in search results, Google allows for removal requests through its legal help center. This process requires documented proof of the content's falsity and potential harm caused to the individual's reputation. Upon verification, Google may directly remove the content or request the website owner to do so. The timeframe for removal varies, but it's crucial to provide strong evidence for swift action.
Google respects intellectual property rights and facilitates the removal of copyrighted content upon valid claims. This typically involves the copyright owner contacting the website hosting the infringing content or utilizing Google's designated tool. Once the claim is verified, Google expedites the removal process, often within days, to ensure copyright protection.
Google actively removes content that violates local or international laws, including child sexual abuse content, hate speech, and violent extremism. This removal process often involves automated detection systems and collaborations with law enforcement agencies. The removal timeframe depends on the content's severity and urgency, with immediate action taken in critical situations.
It's important to remember that Google's removal power is limited to search results, not the content itself. While it can delist the content from its search engine, it cannot force the hosting website to take it down.
Additionally, Google filters out as many requests as possible with an automated response.
Achieving approval may involve back-and-forth communication and clarifications, making it crucial to approach it with patience and persistence.
Two alternative strategies offer nuanced approaches: suppression and rebranding. Suppression focuses on burying the content beneath more positive information while rebranding aims to reshape the narrative surrounding the individual or entity actively.
Suppression (Push bad content down in search results)
This strategy leverages search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to push harmful content down in search results. A suppression strategy involves publishing new content to "control the narrative" of your search results. The benefits include:
- It has a relatively quick impact.
- No contact with the website owner is needed.
However, suppression requires ongoing maintenance and doesn't erase the content, leaving the potential for resurfacing.
We will cover this topic in greater detail later in the article.
This is a more drastic approach and involves a name change. Rebranding can be done with individuals and businesses but should only be done as a last resort. Benefits include:
- A fresh start.
- You can choose a name that is easy to brand.
- Taking ownership of the narrative.
Choosing between suppression and rebranding depends on the specific situation. For less damaging content, suppression might suffice. However, rebranding could be the more effective long-term solution for significant reputational issues.
What legal reasons can you use to remove search engine information?
Attorneys charge a sizeable initial fee with no guarantee of successful removal. Hiring a reputation management company is a much more cost-efficient way to remove content online.
Right to be Forgotten
This European Union law allows individuals to request the removal of personal data from search engine results. However, it doesn't guarantee complete removal and applies only to search engines, not the source itself. Additionally, it faces criticism for potentially infringing on freedom of information and journalistic integrity.
This option applies when copyrighted material like music, images, or text is used without permission. While the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a streamlined takedown process, it can be misused for censorship and needs enforcement against content creators outside the US. A 2021 study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society found that 20% of DMCA takedown notices were deemed invalid, highlighting the potential for abuse.
Defamation and Libel
These legal claims address false and harmful statements that damage someone's reputation. While effective in some instances, they can be expensive and time-consuming, with the burden of proof resting on the plaintiff.
Additionally, proving malice or "actual damages" can be challenging, especially for online content where the reach and impact are often difficult to quantify.
According to a 2022 report, only 4% of defamation lawsuits filed in federal courts are successful.
Google won't display negative results if you delete unwanted or harmful content. It is challenging to remove negative content from Google. This is why reputation management companies exist.
- Defamatory and damaging news articles about you and your brand.
- Removal of negative images or reviews about a company.
- Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking
- Social media crisis management plan
- Protection from potential future search result issues
Suppress Negative Content
The internet cannot remove everything. If someone cannot remove, update, or de-index the content, the next step is to try to suppress it.
People rarely go beyond the first page in their Google search results - or even the first entry. The first page of Google search results receives 90% of search traffic, and the organic results garner 32.5% of overall search traffic.
Although the harmful content you want to remove may still be there, it will do you no harm if it isn't. An online reputation management firm can help you eliminate harmful content and promote positive messages about you. This means that 90% of people who google you or your company will see only the positive.
It's worth looking into ways to increase your reputation score in search results if you are not getting the desired results for keywords related to your business or name. Although removing negative influences from Google can be the fastest way to achieve this, it can often prove difficult. You can stop negative results from Google by building new positive content. You can significantly increase your chances of concealing negative consequences and better manage your online reputation.
Taking control of your online reputation is crucial in today's digital age. One way to do so is by removing undesirable content from Google searches. By utilizing the services of a reputable online reputation management company like NewReputation, individuals, and businesses can effectively manage their online image and protect themselves from damaging content.
So, take charge of your online reputation today and partner with NewReputation for effective content removal and online reputation management.
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