We all have wished for a delete button for search results at some point or the other. It could be to delete something personal or professional which is incorrect on Google or any search engines in the form of an article, a picture, a blog post, an account, or a video. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Here, we will be sharing the procedure according to Google but for other search engine it will be somewhat similar.
In this post we will discuss a few case studies which have happened with our clients and the solutions we chose.
(1). Let’s begin with a case where some bloggers started spreading wrong information about a genuine company. We have hidden the company name in attached image due to some privacy issues.
(2). In the 2nd case, a boy shared some personal and fabricated information about her girl friend.
This example shows how a boyfriend ruined his girlfriend's life by posting her personal images and tarnishing her image.
These are the steps to remove any such information from Google Search:
Web Rule 1:
Start by making a list of original websites that’s actually hosting the content you want remove
In this case, there were multiple publishers who wrote false information about our client and Google wasn’t the original source of publishing the content. These blogs are the original source of publishing the content which can be easily uploaded on wordpress, tumblr or another popular blogging site. Google neither has these files nor can it delete them.
To remove something from the search results of Google, one has to remove it from the original source first. Once that is done, Google and other search engines naturally filter it out of their search results. However, there is a way to speed up that process which you can understand better through point no 2 given below.
Web Rule 2:
You might hit some red lights. Mostly, websites don’t have any duty to remove anything
Your reason for removal has to be really good too. Just because you are looking bad, there are some dislikes or negative comments aren’t good enough as a reason. Also have to have a really good reason to force a website to remove content. Looking bad in a picture or disliking a comment someone made on your Facebook wall isn’t enough. We’ll get into these serious reasons later on in this guide. Though it isn’t necessary that the sites have to remove your content down but they may still do it to help you. Just make sure to ask them nicely and things will easier.
Web Rule 3:
Keep it up. Persistence pays, so if you hit a wall, go around it
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is truer than ever when it comes to take downs. You will have to speak up, speak often, and keep doing it. It all depends on your level of dedication. You shouldn’t take a lack of response as an answer. You’ve worked hard and are competing for that very limited time span of busy people and companies. Without exaggerating it too much, following are the thorough points help you finding out to get something deleted from the web.
1. Find someone, or at least a department, to talk to
To remove an item, you will have to first contact the person who’s in charge of managing the particular website on which it appears. It would be even better, if it’s you, your account or website. There are some sites which have systems for requesting takedowns, but speaking to an individual does increase you’re the probability of the problem getting solved. Look for phone number of the website’s editor, writer or webmaster. The best would be to talk to someone who is technically sound and has the authority to actually help you in removing the content. Going through a long chain of people can eventually lead to your issue being forgotten.
The numbers can be usually found at the “contact us” link which is usually at the bottom of most websites. If in case, you are unable to find such information being listed, you can perform a special search to see who registered the site. This is referred to as a “Who Is” search that can be done for free on Google.
Simply type: whois + www.[the site you’re looking up].com, and you’ll get a result for the person who registered it. Note that the contact information given could be anonymous if the site had been registered through a proxy service.
Click on any of the first few URLs listed after the search ads, and you will see the result in the format given below.
You can find out valuable information like the company’s numbers, relevant email address, contact numbers, and fax numbers, etc. If the only thing available is a general phone number for the front desk then tell the receptionist that you would like to talk to someone who is in charge of website content regarding a take down request. Those dealing with a big company with an automated phone menu, keep trying until you get some other person on the line.
2. If you can’t talk, email
If there isn’t a phone number available, you can look for a personal email. Even if you there isn’t a personal email id, most of the sites usually have a standard format for employee email, which you can guess easily. One can also use the website, Email Format, that can help you guess by providing formats for many popular websites.
3. Make your case, and make it well
Usually there isn’t any legal reason to get an item taken down, so the only way to succeed is by being polite and nice. By screaming and being angry will not help at all. At the end of the day, it is your work. So, think of ways how you can persuade and convince them to remove it. The whole point is that the website cannot be forced and it is almost like doing a favour to you. Hence, better be really good to them.
This is (Name), a webmaster from Search Engine Times. I recently came to know that either you or your team has published false information regarding our company. I am sharing the URL of the false information (link).
The facts mentioned about our company in your content are not true. Hence, we would request you to remove this information as soon as possible because it is ruining our image in the market. In case, if it isn’t removed then we will have to take legal action against you.
Even if you have decided to talk to someone, it is always better to write down your request as well. Keep the following things in mind while writing.
- Begin by a brief introduction about yourself and the purpose for contacting (e.g., “I’d like to talk to you regarding the removing of an item/pic/content from your website”).
- Do thank them for giving you time and verify if they are the concerned person who takes down these requests. You definitely wouldn’t want to waste your time and energy on someone who doesn’t even deal with all this. It is not worth it. You should rather ask them about the right person, their phone number, name, email address which will eventually help you.
- Give them an idea and information about the item that you want removed and how it actually came online.
- Explain the reason behind asking them to remove the content. It is okay to get a little emotional but don’t go overboard with your emotions. Being dramatic will help you in no way. Make them connect with your issue or maybe even empathise with your situation. Tell them why it so important for that particular content to get removed.
- Once you have presented all the reasons, ask them that you would like them to remove it. Then wait for some time. Let them decide.
- In case, they do not agree for full deletion, you can offer alternatives like taking off your name or presenting as anonymous or asking them to block the content from being indexed etc.
- You can end it by thanking the people from the website for helping you, giving their time and considering your issue. Do appreciate them for their efforts.
- Thoroughly check the written request for any spelling or grammatical error. These matter a lot.
You should also be aware of the name of the person whom you speak to from the website. Do keep a record of your communication which might be required at some stage. Just because one person didn’t listen and help, it doesn’t mean everyone is alike. Therefore, try with some other person at the company.
Web Rule 4:
Delete things from Google Search with Google’s URL Removal Tool
If you ever come across a link in Google that needs updating (in other words, you’ve removed or changed content on the publisher’s site, but Google’s search results still reflect the old content), you can use Google’s URL Removal Tool to fix it.
For this, you need a Google account and the URL which you want to remove. Just paste that URL in request bar and click on request remove button. Within 48 hours, Google will approve or deny it. One can also view approved, denied and pending removal requests.
Web Rule 5:
If you can’t delete something bad, bury it with something good
If only everything was as easy and perfect, we could get rid of anything that we want. Though in reality, things aren’t that easy. The truth being, everything is going to be the way it is. Only for special circumstances or if one gets lucky the content could get removed. Try and remove whatever is possible and keep creating a lot of positive content as damage control. This is a great way to improve your search results and portray a good image.
Create and manage public profiles for yourself
There are some sites that consistently appear high in the search results. Just by creating a profile on them with your name and a bit of information, can go a long way in suppressing negative results. Do make sure to set your privacy settings to be publicly viewed, and post content that you’re completely sure about. Something you won’t regret later that you posted.
Here is a list of few sites which you can use:
Author stream: www.authorstream.com/
Slide share: www.slideshare.net/
Yahoo Pulse: http://pulse.yahoo.com/
One can also register themselves with their own name on news websites and comment on different articles, although you have to remember that these types of posts don’t tend to rank as highly as compared to those on the sites listed above.
Link amongst your various sites
One of the ways through which Google determines a site’s rank in the search results is by analysing the number of times other sites link to it. Though, you can get your content to rise by linking it to itself. For example, create an account in twitter, connect it to your quora account, then connect both to your Facebook page, and lastly you should link all of them on your Blogger page. Of course, the key is to you use your accounts as much as possible and interact with other people. This will help you get really good results.
Take back negative keywords
In case, the search for your name is generally positive, but including a certain keyword brings up some kind of negative or unwanted result, you should try to reclaim that term. Let’s say that a search for “Manu Doe” is positive, but “Manu Doe”+ “State College” brings up negative results. Manu Doe should start including the phrase “State College” in his positive content creation in order to associate it with his good reputation.
Web Rule 6:
Report legal violations to the search engines
If the content that you want to get removed is violating any law (copyright infringement is a common one), then you can visit this link, just select “Web Search,” and proceed as per the instructions given in the website. Usually, Google and other websites would remove content if it falls into the following categories:
- Copyright or trademark infringement
- Impersonation or misuse of another’s identity
- Child pornography
- Confidential information (including social security number, bank account number, and credit card number)
- Threats of violence against another person
- Malware/viruses obscenity
- Court-ordered removal
- Cyber bullying
- Child exploitation
Web Rule 7:
If something is truly defamatory, get a lawyer
Without legal documentation supporting your claims, you cannot remove any content or anything negative which is being said about you just like that. As per the guidelines and rules of the current state of internet law, it isn’t obligatory for hosting companies and websites to remove allegedly defamatory content.
Any statement that you dislike doesn’t qualify to be labeled as defamatory. Defamation has a proper definition. It’s also balanced against free speech rights. Say for e.g. you bought a shirt online and found out that it isn’t of good quality. You decide to post as a review that it isn’t good but then it doesn’t mean it is defamatory. Rather, if you post something against the seller to get back at him, that is defamatory in every sense. You have all the right to express what you feel for the product but deliberately dragging a person is not the right thing to do
Defamation requires the following four elements
- There should be damage to the person’s reputation being spoken about
- It should be a false statement of fact, not opinion
- In case the defamatory matter is of public concern and even if there is some slight fault which depicts negligence on the part of the publisher
- If it is publicly published to at least one other person
There is additional requirement for celebrities and public figures. The statement should also be maliciously untrue–you would know it was false, but you still expressed it with a hurtful and bad motive.
Thus, if the claims
- Are showcased as facts and not opinions,
- Are untrue (and you have the proof), and
- Have actually caused quite a damage to your reputation, you might want to speak with a First Amendment attorney, especially the one who does specialize in Internet defamation.
You would have noticed that in the above mentioned cases, we started off by preparing a list of the false publishers. Next, we figured out the email id of the publishers through their contact page or social media pages. Later, a mail was sent to them as per the format mentioned above in the article. We also found that around 50% of webmasters do not want any legal action to be taken on their business. Hence, they easily agree to remove the content from their website. In case, someone doesn’t agree then you can follow the advanced ways suggested by us to force them to remove it. You should also remember to check if the content is still available in Google despite its removal. Once found, remove it through the Google URL removal tool.
So, there is no need to worry if you come across such false information about you or your company on Google or any other search engine. Follow the steps mentioned in the article to remove the content without much hassle. Do try them and tell us your experience. For any doubts and queries mention it in the comments section below. Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.