Category: Online Reputation Management

How to Remove a Site from Google

It can be very shocking to Google your name or your company’s name and have results pop up that are negative, misleading or flat out wrong. We’ve all heard the cautionary adage, “Once it’s on the internet, it’s on the Internet forever”.  But is it true?

It doesn’t have to be. Here is is a rundown of the best ways to remove a site from Google and take back control of your online reputation.

First and foremost, you should try and contact the webmaster. Sometimes these things can be worked out right away, before you spend too much time and/or money on the problem.

Mama always said: You catch more flies with honey.

Contact the owner through their whois info or a contact form on their site.  Be polite. “Hi, my name is Lauren. You may not be aware of this, but that picture you have on your website is a picture of me and I would appreciate it if you take it down, please.”   It may be as simple as that. Most webmasters like to stay under the radar. When they’re called out in a non threatening matter like this, sometimes they’ll hussle just to make it all go away so they can go back to dominating the internet.

Daddy always said: That’s what the flyswatter is for.

Sweet-as-pie not working? Perhaps nice isn’t your style and you want to show them you mean business from the start. Contact the owner and inform them what they are saying is defamation and that your next step will be to send them a C&D, file a DMCA complaint with their host to have their site shut down immediately or just skip all that and get Google to deindex their site forever.   (We’ll be getting to how to do all this in a moment.) Just be warned about the “Guns Blazing” method: Webmasters are notorious for their keyboard warrior mentality. Any big internet legal terms you throw at them, may result in a “Come at me bro” response, so be prepared to follow through with your threats.

Neither of these options worked? Maybe you couldn’t even find contact information for the elusive webmaster.

What now?

Remove Personal Information from Google

If you are staring at the search engine results wondering, “How do I remove my name from Google?” At first glance you may think you won’t get much help from Google themselves. In fact, Google has always been adamant about maintaining a position of neutrality:

Google doesn’t own the Internet, and we don’t control the content of unrelated sites that appear in our search results. Our search results simply reflect what’s already out there on the web.

However, Google will make a few exceptions (assuming attempts with site owner has failed) with regards to your attempts to remove personal information from Google:

How to Remove a Website from the Internet

You may have decided that in order to delete a site on Google your best course of action is Legal action. You should know going into it you may be fighting a battle, at least in the States. The US constitution allows for alot of leeway with regards to freedom of speech. So far, cases tend to be either dismissed outright or ruled in favor of the defendant for this very reason.  That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, especially with  regards to specific complaints that the constitution does not protect.

Shutting down the Domain.  While difficult, getting a domain shut down is not impossible.  Typically, domains are shut down for one or more reasons surrounding:

There are ways to go about addressing these issues yourself, including filing a complaint with ICANN but it can be very convoluted and is recommended that you hire good intellectual property or domain name attorney.

Bringing down the site.  Removing a site from the internet via the site’s hosting tends to be a little less hassle than bringing down a domain.  Many times all it takes is a simple complaint to the Host:

  1. Go to whois.net to find out the name of the hosting company that hosts the site.
  2. Type into to Google the name of the host and “TOS” (Terms of Service)
  3. Review the TOS  and how it pertains to the offending website. Can you find a violation? Some of the TOS contracts are so all inclusive you’re bound to find some violation.
  4. Contact the host to inform them of the violation. The best way to do this is to go back to Google and type in the host name again followed by “DMCA” (The Digital Millennium Copyright ACT) The first result will usually lead you to finding the proper procedure for filing a complaint with that particular host.

The matter is usually addressed within 48-72 hours. Either they will contact the owner to remove the specific material or sometimes they will just shut it down completely, at least until the material in question is removed.

Remember, after you’ve accomplished a site removal through either the host or domain removal options mentioned above, in order to then remove a page from google search results, you will need to use the URL removal tool.

How to Remove a Website From Google

So lets say you want to skip all this headache and go straight to the source. You want to remove a site from Google. Assuming your issue doesn’t include personal information like a SS number or a credit card number then it can’t be done, yes? We already went over the fact that Google tries to stay more neutral than Switzerland, so it’s a dead end right? Not necessarily.

All of these trademark violations and copyright violations and every other violations aren’t just concerns for a hosting company; Google takes these matters very seriously as well.  In fact, Searchengineland.com did a fantastic article about how to remove a result from Google completely. And not just any result, RipOff Reports results! Rip off reports are known to be a bear to deal with in the ORM industry and while they can certainly be pushed down by reputation management experts, they’re nearly impossible to get removed from the source (ripoffreport.com). Until now.  According to the article:

  1. File a defamation lawsuit against the original author of the report (not ripoffreport.com and not Google. Otherwise, you’re probably just burning money)
  2. Obtain the court issued document declaring the material to be false and/or defamatory.
  3. Submit the declaration to Google.

Note that the Google form doesn’t even ask for court issued documentation.  Honestly, if I wanted to remove a site from Google, before I went though the hassle of suing, I would see just where submitting a this complaint form to Google takes me.  Supposedly, Google removes more than a million search results a month, so it’s a process they are quite familiar with. At best, Google removes the site right away. At worst, Google asks you for more documentation which then you can follow the procedure outlined above.

TL;DR 

Here’s your Too Long; Didn’t Read sum up: If you want to remove a site from Google,

  1. Figure out your best plan of action. Can you report it to the host for TOS or DMCA violation?  Can you go after the domain for trademark violation? Is it the simple fact that the site is posting personal information about you?
  2. Once you’ve figured out the specific problem,  follow through with the appropriate tools and laws already at your disposal.
  3. If you’ve exhausted all of the above options, then be sure to find a good online reputation manager. Because really, in the end,  if it’s not on the 1st or 2nd page of Google, it might as well not be there at all.

 

 

 

Google Knowledge and Online Reputation Management

As you may be aware, Google unveiled it’s plans for the Knowledge Graph yesterday. Its essentially an enhancement to the Google SERPs that will allow people who are searching for terms that have multiple meanings and references to find exactly what they’re looking for more efficiently.

Source: Google

Google uses the term Taj Mahal as an example. A user entering this phrase may want to research the landmark or maybe, instead, they’re trying to find info on the Taj Mahal, the musician or maybe you’re just trying to find the local Indian Food restaurant that happens to go by the same name. With Google Knowledge, you will be presented with a sidebar of examples loaded with rich graphics from around the web to assist in your query. Not only will it present results in a way that you’re more likely to notice, but it will also present them in a manner that’s more informative at a glance without having to click deeper. According to Mashable, it’s a switch from simple keyword recognition to the identification of entities, nodes and relationships.

Of course my immediate question was what will this do for Online Reputation Management and Personal Branding? People are currently thinking big in terms of Taj Mahal and Frank Lloyd Wright but it would make sense that Google would include it anytime there were various results for any given keyword like… say… almost every name on the planet typically being shared with hundreds of people if not millions.

So today, I was doing my routine proactive reputation Search Engine check for my name, when I noticed something different:

More by Lauren Starling

The by Lauren Starling and the More by Lauren Starling that had not been there yesterday.  Not without a sense of borderline-geeky excitement, I clicked the two links. One led straight to my Google+ page and the other to a Google custom search for Lauren Starling, ME!

A double check on my last SERP result screenshot for Lauren Starling on May 8th shows that, no, I’m not imagining things.  I was also logged out at the time of all of these screenshots (very important, if you want unbiased search results). However, upon looking at my logged in screen I see a notice informing me that my profile is not complete.

Considering this sidebar is pulling information directly from my Google + account, it’s no surprise that when I click through to update the profile, I’m brought to the page where practically gives you the third degree:

It’s clear Google wants to know everything about me so that it can be the authoritative source for Lauren Starling.  I guess now we know what all that privacy policy hoopla was about earlier this year.  People may be given pause here: “How much more do I really want Google to know about me?” In the end, that will be your decision, but remember to factor in that they are going to produce results for your name with or without your input; At least with this method you are controlling what people will see about you.

I imagine once I complete the Google profile, my little side bar will be even more enriched. (I’ll be sure to post back with updates) Clearly, though, Google has introduced a new player in the game of Online Reputation Management. I guess it remains to be seen who comes out the biggest winner.

How to Remove a Url from Google in less than 24 Hours

url removalWhen you Google your name, you may cringe to realize that you have content out there that possibly even you put out that may not paint you in the most professional light. What might have seemed like harmless fun in your college years, may not be something you want your future boss finding down the road. Or maybe you’ve decided to have a specific username for personal purposes while using your given name for your professional image.

On the plus side, these are profiles or content that you control so it should be easy to adjust or remove. The problem is, even after these pages have been removed they can stay indexed in the search engines for weeks even months after you’ve altered them. Not so convenient if you’re attempting to clean up the SERPs just in time for that big job interview.

This actually happened to me a while back, when I was going through a routine search with my name. I realized that I had carelessly used one of my personal usernames on a site attached to my full name and it was showing up at the mid top of the SERPs for Lauren Starling SEO.
Lauren Starling
The first decision you need to make is what to do with it. Delete the account all together? Or try to alter the account to the appropriate name? Since it was ranking pretty well for my name already, I decided to see if I could change the username to my full name, instead, and solve the problem that way. Some sites will let you do this, others tell you you’re stuck with what you signed up with. Luckily, this one allowed me to switch out the username for my full name.

So it’s logical to assume that a massively popular social site would have the search engines reflecting any change quickly, right? Ironically, because it’s a massively popular site, Google is going to use it’s resources efficiently when dealing with it. Meaning-Unless Google detects a good reason to, it’s not going to continually crawl profile pages. So even though I have a fresh new page on the site for my name, the old page with my username (now with a 404 error) is still the one showing up in the Google results for Lauren Starling SEO.  I have no idea how long it will take for Google to naturally find the 404 error on this Juggernaut of a website, so instead of waiting around to see, I decide this is a perfect opportunity to try out the Google URL removal tool.

Google URL Removal

Google understands that sometimes you want a page removed from Google’s index faster than they are able to update it organically. So they’ve set up a url removal tool to help you expedite the process of removing the outdated page from the SERPs. It’s important to note that this tool only works if the site has already been updated to reflect the changes.  This will not help you if you’ve not already had the information, from the source, updated.

Google URL Removal Tool

To remove a url from Google, first make sure that you are logged into your Google accounts. Next, go to the Google webmaster tools and click on the New Removal Request.  Then, type in the exact url that you want removed and then click continue.  Finally, click Remove this page. You will see that there is a pending request for your URL removal.

Removing a Page from Google

*Note:  Google will only remove the url you submitted and will not investigate further. It’s common for large sites to have multiple urls with the same content, so be sure you weed all those out and submit the request for multiple removals.   The quickest way to find all the urls you want to remove is to do a query in Google for site:whateversite.com/username.  So, in my case, I did a search for site:pinterest.com/mytopsecretusername  While only one url was showing up in the search for Lauren Starling SEO, using the site:domain.com/username query showed that there were still many more indexed urls out there. I ended up having to submit 19 urls all together.

Remove Google Cache

A URL removal is not to be confused with an attempt to remove Google cache.  For the above example, I had physically altered the url by changing the username, thereby rendering the previous page unusable. Therefore, I wanted the old url removed completely. If, perhaps, the url had been fine but, instead, I needed to alter the username on a page in the site; I would need for Google’s cache to be updated if wanted it to be reflected in the search engines results. Google does offer you the opportunity to remove a cached page from Google by submitting the url that you want updated and then typing a word from the previous (out of date) version to demonstrate that the live version and the cached version don’t match.

Remove Search Results from Google

Your part is done. Now it’s time to let Google take over. Once you’ve submitted the URL, Google will  check the validity of the request. In my case, Google could clearly see that the page was returning a 404 error and so they updated it accordingly.  The period of time from submission until actual removal from search results was less than 24 hours.

Remove Name from Search Engine

How To Remove a Website From Google

Some of you maybe thinking: Good to know, but my real problem is I want to remove my name from Google, or remove a page from Google or even remove an entire website from Google. Oh, and by the way, I don’t control these sources. But, man, they’re truly harshin my online reputation. Don’t worry, I’ve got tips on how to remove all of the above a from the search results… in my next post. So be watching for it.

How to get Google to Show a Positive Online Reputation in under 10 minutes

Controlling Your Online Reputation with a Custom Search Engine

I bet you’ve heard SEO takes months, sometimes years to optimize. When it comes to something as vital as the results displayed for your name though, you may not have the luxury of time. Luckily, you have alternatives. Using Google custom search will have you controlling all the results for your name or brand in a matter of minutes.

Google Search for your Website

So you’ve finally decided to take control of the content out there on the Search Engines regarding your online reputation.  Well done!  Part of managing your reputation online involves using the online reputation management tools (Many of them free monitoring tools like Google’s custom search bar) that are out there at your disposal.  I’m going to demonstrate how you can use custom search engines to control the content for your name or brand. First, however, we need to find all the neutral or positive results Google already has for you.  These are the sources you will use in this custom search search on your website a little later.

There are a few ways you can Google your own name, depending on your goals. You may want to see just what you are up against first, in terms of competition, as there may be plenty of other people out there with your same name. The best way to do so is to tweak the query search a bit with different search operators. I’ve tried out a few with regards to googling first and last names and probably the best is just “firstname lastname” (quotes included in the search) this way you are sure to get the full mention of the two names together in Google’s index.  If you have an unusual name, you will see significantly fewer results than a more common name. For example: If you type into Google  “zeffie zimmerman” you will only get 9 results where as if you type in “john smith” you will get  22 million results. Yikes.  You may think you would prefer one situation over the other, but both have their pros and cons. For example, with a name like John Smith, you would have a pretty simple time staying under the radar. Zeffie, on the other hand, would have nowhere to hide: If it’s out there with her name on it, she better hope it’s something good! However, if you’re like the majority of us, your own name results will fall somewhere  in between.

It probably didn’t take long for Google to figure that most people will probably share their first and last name with other people on this planet. Therefore, Google really does like to present as many appropriate options for the search as possible when presented with a bare or broad search (like John Smith) So you can see the kind of dilemma a person is facing if they want to maximize control the content for their name reputation but Google, in it’s ever ending desire to ensure a positive user experience, is constantly presenting multiple names and mixed results, right? So is it time to throw in the towel before you’ve even begun? Not at all. You still have the option to tightly control your content with the method I previously spoke of called ORM Funneling.

Online Reputation Management Funneling using a Custom Search Engine.

You may not be in a position to control all the general SERPs but, since Google is interested in continually promoting appropriate results, you are certainly in a position to put your best internet foot forward. In other words, pick a source that will be your authoritative source and use that for your ORM funneling efforts. You could go for a public Facebook page which Google already loves.  Or you can set up an official tumblr or worpress.com blog. My recommendation, however,  is own your own domain name. It’s professional, proactive and Google loves it.

Lauren Starling Serp ResultsLet’s bring it back to the situation at hand, shall we? When doing the search for “lauren starling” you’ll see approximately 2500 results. While this tells me what I’m up against in terms of competition, remember what I’m also needing to know is the variety of people Google is serving up for the broad search term Lauren Starling. So to be sure, do the search again, this time without quotation marks, bringing up all the different Lauren Starlings out there. Clicking to expand the the image to the right, you’ll see that I control 2 of the top 3 results for my name. Chances are a searcher is going to click on at least one of those top 3 results. This puts me in a great position to utilize that ORM funneling.  One way that I have been doing it was to drop content links from one site to another, steering the audience in the appropriate direction. Another great way, however,  is to create a Google Custom search on your site.

Google Site Search

Google Custom search is a platform that allows anyone to create their own Google Search Engine which will display only results you dictate. Can you see how this is optimal for the situation of brand and name control? You can add this search for your website with just a few lines of code that I’ll quickly walk you through.

Add Google Site Search

Start by clicking on Creating a Custom Search Engine. Note the “Sites to Search” category. The key is to enter in all the URLS that you already control, so that when someone searches your name in this Google site search bar, Google will only choose from these URLs when presenting results. To get a good list, I would recommend doing another search for your name to see what Google currently has indexed for you. This time try using a niche or geo qualifier. Appropriate qualifiers for me might be lauren starling seo,  lauren starling orm, lauren starling houston…etc.  Once you’ve added your urls and customized it the way you want it to appear to your audience, you simply click save, grab the code and put it where ever you’d like on your site.  As you can see, I’ve put it in the side bar of this site and also in the top content of Lauren Starling.

So, go ahead and invite those hiring managers, potential clients or that college admissions board to use your custom search bar to make their research a bit easier.  Everyone will soon find, that by adding Google search for your website, you’ve not only enhanced your searcher’s experience, you’ve just brought yourself one step closer to controlling the content for your online reputation.

Google Search Bar

Google CSE Autocomplete
If you have a moment, play around with the customized search bar on the top right side by adding in search terms surrounding my name. It should even autopopulate for you. Imagine how impressed your potential employer will be when they start to type in your name and John Smith Employee of the Month auto completes!!

Cendrine Marrouat

Cendrine Marrouat, is today’s winner for having the best SERP reputation management. As founder of Creative Ramblings, Cendrine followed her calling by assisting individuals and small businesses with their branding efforts in social media. In an obvious attempt to lead by example, Cendrine’s multiple professional and personal citings on her About page reads like a virtual how-to guide in brand/name management. It’s certainly clear she’s grasped the importance making sure that you control all the content out on the Search Engines for your name and online reputation.  Looks like her efforts paid off:

Serp for Cendrine

Way to go, Cendrine!