5 Ways To Remove A Page From Google Search
They say that nothing ever disappears from the internet. I imagine that’s slightly overstated. Nonetheless, there sure are a lot of services that seem to back everything up! In that way that photo of that drunken stag do, that unflattering article about that company that went bankrupt or that ex who aired your dirty laundry in public will probably be out there for longer than you’d like.
Fortunately, if you can make sure people can’t actually find what’s out there, that’s almost as good as actually deleting it. And as the go-to search engine for most people is still the internet giant Google that’s where we should definitely start that process.
Here we’ll explore some of the best ways to remove yourself from the Google search results. We’ll start with the good news. If you own the website then you can very easily and conveniently remove it from Google search.
Removing your own page from google search
Getting your own page removed is quite straight forward. The first step is to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. Once you’ve done that, you can then add your account to the website and verify it, so that Google knows it is actually yours. From there, click on your website and hit optimization.
You’ll see the option to ‘remove URLs’. If you click on that, follow through with a click on ‘new removal request’, enter the full address of the page you want to remove and then submit the request Google will do the rest. It might take a few days for everything to get processed, but then the page is gone!
Do note, when you copy and paste the page you want to remove make sure that you do not give the link to something only you can see (something that happens if you’re logged in, for example) as then your efforts will be in vain.
Removing offensive content from google search – route one
Of course, if the website isn’t yours, then it becomes a bit trickier. In this case, you need to have proper ground for demanding the content be taken down. So, don’t expect to be able to take down a negative review or even a competitor’s website! That’s just not going to happen.
On the other hand, if the website is defamatory or breaks the law, then you can request a removal.
Your best bet is to first contract the page directly and ask them to remove it. If you don’t know who owns a site, you can find that out by using the WHO IS database. If the owner is unresponsive or dismissive of your request, you can contact the hosting company. Often, they are more responsive to such requests, as they don’t want to go through the hassle of a court case.
If neither of those strategies work, you can always get a lawyer involved. They can draft very official looking letters that will scare the bejesus out of the owner or the hosting company and thereby turn a reticent individual into a compliant one.
Removing offensive content from google search – route two
That doesn’t work or isn’t possible? Then it’s time to contact Google directly. They might well do what you ask, after which the page will no longer be in their search results (though of course it will still be out there).
If the content is hosted by Google – say on Youtube – and it is offensive, then you can simply flag it. This will have one of their teams review the content and see if they agree with you. If so, it will be taken down.
If the content isn’t hosted on Google, then you can remove it through the third party content removal from Google. Though before you request that they remove something, make sure you check their Product support center page, as a lot of questions you may have are answered, so that you can approach this problem in the correct manner.
Some reasons you can remove content:
- It invades your privacy. If you’re not a public figure, then you have certain rights to privacy. In this way, you can ask Google to remove content that invades that – for example because it is pornographic in nature.
- It breaks copyright. When we create content it is automatically copyrighted. This is true even if you do not explicitly say so and didn’t watermark it. If somebody then goes on and copies that content without your permission, you can demand it be taken down and even take legal action.
- It breaks other laws. There are a lot of laws out there which manage what we can and cannot show online. If what you want taken down does not comply with the above two, then there might be other rules it breaks, which might provoke Google to take action. Do note, this might not always work as there is also something called freedom of speech, which Google will consider.
What if none of those are options?
Of course, those options really only work for content that breaks the law. So, what if that’s not the case? What do you do then? Beg? Bribe? Threaten with violence? Those might work. But they’re not your only options. You can also do the next best thing and that is to push the content down the Google results so that a casual search won’t be likely to find it.
This works better than you might think. A study has revealed that 95% of searches don’t go past page one. So, for the casual searcher pushing down the unwanted information beyond that page will already be enough. Of course, that won’t work with the more tenacious digger – say a journalist or a private eye – but you can’t win them all.
So how do you push down that unwanted page in the search results? By creating new content with your name, of course. Now, you could of course create new pages on the internet and then try to push those up in the ranking till they’re at the top. And that’s not a bad idea, as you’ll control those pages. To do that, however, you need to be quite committed and know your SEO.
There are easier options. You can:
Create profiles everywhere. The social media companies allow you to create profiles in your name. Start there. If you create Linkedin and Facebook pages, an Instagram account and create one or two online portfolios then those will rank high. Higher, in fact, than most inconvenient articles. Do note, if you want these profiles to keep rating high, then you have to make sure they stay active. Yeah, that can be a lot of work.
For that reason, don’t go overboard here, as that can end up being counter-productive. Instead, search out networks that you’ll actually use.
Guest posts on big sites. Another option is to write content for high-ranking websites. This will both push the content further down and boost your name. If you’re not a natural writer, then use a writing service to help you create high quality content. Do note that it will help if the content belongs to your niche.
Use help a reporter. If you’re in any way interesting and have the inside scoop for reporters, then sign up on this website. Hopefully, you’ll get a few reporters to interview you and use your name in articles. If these websites are big enough, those will again push to the top of the search results.
Ask people to review you on review websites. This is another good option, as many review websites worth their salt will rank quite high. So, get people to write reviews about you! You might not want to make them all super positive, by the way, as these review sites might notice that you’re trying to skew their results and will not react kindly to being manipulated.
Whatever route you take, make sure that you use the same name of the content that you want to push down. Otherwise you might well manage to push yourself up in the ranking, but fail in pushing down the negative article!
If you want to create your own domain
Of course, if all of that isn’t enough or you’d like to use this chance to create your own content, then that’s possible too. If you’re going to create a new domain to push something negative about yourself down, make sure that you use a domain name that will help you with that.
To get this right, you really need to know a little bit about how keywords work on Google. To give you the shortened version, a keyword is what a person types when searching for information about you. So, let’s say your name is John Smith, then those would be the keywords people would search by.
Of course, they wouldn’t get much with ‘John Smith’ as that’s such a common name that they’d never actually find any information that’s specific about you with just those two words, but you get the idea.
So, if the article is about your personally, then you’ll want to use your own name in the domain name (Google assumes your domain name signals what your site is about). You’ll also want to create websites on your site which are about you. So, perhaps a bio and a portfolio, both which make use of your own name. Yes, this does mean you can’t just create a single page business website (despite the advantages thereof).
Of course, if it’s your company that’s suffering the bad exposure, then that is the name that you’ll want to rank for. So, make sure that you use it in your domain title and all across your website.
The next step is to learn everything you can about search engine optimization (or SEO for short). This will then help you push your domain name up in the ranking. Again, a huge amount of this has been written elsewhere, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, here. Still, a few pointers won’t hurt.
- Quality over quantity. This is both true of your own content as well as the links that you manage to create linking to your content. Google cares more nowadays about who links to you than how often you are linked to. So, find high-quality websites and get them to include links to your page. You can do that by creating great content and then making them aware of it.
- Long-form articles. There is quite some evidence that all things being equal, Google cares more about longer articles as they feel that these contain more useful information. 1500 words is considered a good amount.
- Improve what’s already ranking. A lot of people spend all their time making new content in the hope of getting that to rank as well. And sure, that works. A better strategy, however, is to take content that’s already ranking and to then improve it. This will be far more likely to push that content higher up and thereby push unwanted content further down.
- Understand it will take a while. Getting something to rank well on Google is not something that will just happen overnight. This is in part because you have to build traction and in part because Google feels that older pages are more trustworthy. Yes, that does mean that the negative article will stay up there longer than you’d like. That is why I mentioned using all those other websites first.
Don’t forget about the long tail
So, is that it? Not quite. Remember the keywords I spoke about earlier? Some of you might have realized that you can have a short keyword (e.g. John Smith) and longer keywords (e.g. John smith is a scam artist). You might be able to push negative articles or reviews about the shorter article down the ranking, without affecting the longer ones.
These longer keywords are often referred to as ‘long-tail keywords’ and if you’ve followed the advice I’ve outlined above, they are going to be the biggest problem you still have left. If people know what they’re looking for, then by typing the right keywords they can circumvent all your efforts and still find that negative content.
And as the tenacious are the very people you’d rather not have finding this information, that’s not good.
So, what do you do? Well, your best bet is to also try to rank for those long-tail keywords and push the content down in this way. In the above example, you could get content out there which specifically describes john smith as not being a scam artist. Perhaps by writing articles about how there was a misunderstanding and so on.
To make sure that this content will rank for the long tail keywords that you’re trying to block make sure you use the actual phrase in the title of your piece or get the author to do so. This will make it far more likely to succeed.
Jeez, that’s a lot of work!
You bet! It’s quite a mission to get something that you don’t like out there down from the internet. You’d probably be better off trying the legal recourse before you try drowning it out. If that’s simply not an option, then a good strategy is to create a huge amount of noise in some other way. Perhaps you can create something that people will take notice of.
Do note that negative news is noticed by a lot more people than positive news is (just take a look at the average newspaper if you find that hard to believe). So, it might be worthwhile to create something that’s titillating or shocking to the average audience.
Of course, there is one big drawback to using this strategy and that is that if you create a stink out there and newspapers do pick it up, they will probably do a background check on you by Googling your name. And if the original content that you’re trying to push down is still out there and easy to find, they probably will find it and – if they think it’s interesting – talk about it in their articles.
In that case, you’ll be even further from home, as now you’ll not just have to compete with the original story but also with newspaper. And quite often they rank quite well on Google. So yeah, this strategy has its risk.
Things do blow over
So, be careful with that strategy. A better idea might be to simply wait it out for a while. If you live at least a little bit in the public eye and are creating content of your own, then that can be enough to push content down over the long run.
Sometimes that might be enough. After all, we pay far more attention to our own reputation than most other people do. In psychology, this is known as the spotlight effect. The best solution might therefore be to simply sit tight and hope for the best.
Though you might not want to apply to any jobs while you’re waiting. After all, it does not just report who are likely to Google your name and you don’t really want to be blind-sighted by an unattractive story during an interview.