One of my favorite exercises when I teach branding and social media to students is to get them to Google themselves. I always tell them to not only look at the URLs that are returned but also the images. I also tell them that if they manage their brand well, then the first 30 results should be all about them, should be positive, and should be something that reinforces their brand promise.
Often times, people write in to me and ask how they can remove a result that pops up either because it’s negative, not about them or something that they just don’t want others to know (like the purchase of a house or a political donation) and which doesn’t really reinforce their brand at all.
You can always click on a link below the link you want removed a zillion times but that’s not very efficient or expedient. You can also put more relevant and recent content out via social networks, but that can only do so much too and is also time consuming. You could hire a reputation company to put out content for you, but that costs money.
However, there are several other ways you can get rid of unwanted search engine results.
- Request removal of a cached page. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals?pli=1)
Google allows you to request removal of a cached page. Let’s say you update your photo or bio but the old page keeps popping up when you do a search. Google allows you to easily request a removal of that page. This would also be useful in removing a negative review of your business from search results.
According to Google: “If the page has been updated by the site owner, but the out-of-date version is still visible in Google, you can request removal of the cached version from Google’s search results. The process can be a little tricky, so make sure you read these instructions closely. (Important: This process applies only to HTML pages. Other files, like .doc files or PDFs, must be completely removed from the website.)“
- Remove content from someone else’s site from Google’s search results.
Google allows you to remove content for legal reasons, personal information, or outdated content.
- Legal - If you want to report content that you believe warrants removal from Google’s services based on applicable laws, use this tool to send a legal removal request.
- Personal information - If you have other concerns about your sensitive personal information appearing in Google’s search results, use this tool to find out how to remove personal information from the web.
- Outdated content - If the page, site or image has already been removed from the site in question, it may still show up in Google’s search results if we have not crawled the page recently. While you wait for our search results to get updated, use this tool to request Google not to show the outdated content from the page.
- Remove an image from Google’s search results.
To request removal of an image from Google’s search results, you’ll need to know the exact URL of the image you want removed. Here’s how to find it:
- Click the image that you locate in the image search results.
- Right-click View original image or Full size, and copy the link address.
- Paste the URL into a file or document, so it’s available when you use the URL removal tool.
Once you have the URL ready, follow the instructions for removing an entire page.
Image credit: Kraftek.net