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.
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:
- Your social security or government ID number
- Your bank account or credit card number
- An image of your handwritten signature
- Your first and last name or the name of your business appearing on an adult content site that’s spamming Google’s search results.
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:
- Go to whois.net to find out the name of the hosting company that hosts the site.
- Type into to Google the name of the host and “TOS” (Terms of Service)
- 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.
- 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:
- File a defamation lawsuit against the original author of the report (not ripoffreport.com and not Google. Otherwise, you’re probably just burning money)
- Obtain the court issued document declaring the material to be false and/or defamatory.
- 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.
Here’s your Too Long; Didn’t Read sum up: If you want to remove a site from Google,
- 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?
- Once you’ve figured out the specific problem, follow through with the appropriate tools and laws already at your disposal.
- 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.