Last Updated: August 19, 2022
Is everything that’s ever been posted on the internet really permanently public, or is there a way to remove the results you don’t want to be seen?
In an era when all kinds of information are available in just a few clicks, their misuse may damage your online reputation or business.
Keep reading to find out how to remove search results from Google coming from different sources and preserve your reputation, and see tips to protect your information and privacy online.
Let’s start from the basics.
How Do Search Engines Work?
A search engine crawls the web discovering new and updated content using its crawling bots. Pages on the web are then indexed and ranked to be displayed when a user performs a query related to their content.
The most widely used search engine is Google. Google’s algorithms use different criteria to rank the pages and show the searcher the best possible results that match their query.
However, there are cases when you may want to remove search results from Google. As almost anyone can post content online, sometimes it can be misused and aimed at harming someone. In cases like this, the results that appear in search engines can be harmful to someone’s privacy or reputation.
The easiest way of removing such results is on the websites you own. This includes:
Your Blog or Website
If you own a blog or website, when you change the content you have control over, the search results will also change as soon as a search engine crawls again.
If you’re a member of a forum where you’ve engaged in an online discussion that escalated and is threatening your reputation, chances are you won’t be able to delete it.
However, you can take steps to remove Google search results that associate it with you by logging in to your account, changing your username, and making it untraceable to you.
Social Media Accounts
Depending on the platform, there are different ways to determine which content you post should be visible and to what audience. In some cases, you can even set certain posts or information to be available only to selected members of your community or just you. Adjusting these settings properly should be enough to remove a result from Google.
If you own a YouTube channel and have posted videos you no longer want available, you can remove the content or adjust your settings so it can’t be seen by everyone.
|DID YOU KNOW: Most social media sites have default security settings that rely on your passive consent to access your personal information. According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of Facebook users in the US were unaware that a site kept a list of their interests for advertisers.|
Removing Content From Web Pages That You Don’t Own
But what about the results of information you don’t want to be seen that is located on websites that aren’t under your control?
Don’t worry, the fact you didn’t publish it doesn’t mean that you have absolutely no control of it, especially when it’s regarding your privacy.
The fastest way to remove personal information from Google is directly contacting the administrators of the websites that are displaying the information in question. However, make sure that it wasn’t published with a bad intention first, because if that’s the case, your reaching out may only make things worse.
There are also a lot of data broker websites that collect and sell databases to different clients, such as marketing companies, people search sites, top background check sites, or risk mitigation services that use your data to verify your identity.
Either way, this is probably happening without you even being aware of the process, which can be really frustrating and just another reason for you to learn how to remove results from Google search.
|DID YOU KNOW: When looking for ways to remove your personal data from WhitePages and people search sites, make sure to read their Terms of Service and fully understand them. There are some sites that will allow you to remove only certain information, not your whole profile.|
How to Remove Search Results From Google?
In some cases, you can address Google directly with the request to remove certain information that appears in search results. For the content to be removed this way, it has to be in breach of Google’s Terms of Service.
Some of the situations when you can reach out to Google to remove your personal information include:
Requesting to Remove Doxxing Content
Doxxing refers to making someone’s private information available online without their consent to reveal their identity in real life.
The information can include a person’s name, address, phone number, job, and more.
Doxxing can be used as a form of online shaming that can have serious consequences for its victims, which is why you should remove any Google search result with your personal information to protect your online privacy.
If you approach Google with a request to remove the results where your personal data appears, and it’s not assessed to be information of public interest, Google will most likely proceed per your request.
Requesting to Remove Non-consensual Explicit Images
If there are any unwanted explicit images of you or revenge pornography posted by a vindictive ex-partner showing in search results, knowing how to remove something from Google search can be crucial for your reputation.
In these cases, if the photo or video content shows you in an intimate state or a sexual act, and it was taken or made public without your consent, you can make a request for removing it from search results.
Requesting to Remove Involuntary Fake Pornography
A similar situation occurs if you’re among the victims of fake images or videos showing you nude or in a sexually explicit situation and the content is clearly fake or posted without your consent.
Requesting to Remove Content About You on Other Sites
Some sites can maliciously post sensitive and personal information about you only to charge you a fee for removing it.
Luckily, Google is aware of this, so you can make a request to remove results from Google which will be further decided upon based on the content that shows and the previous history with removing personal information that the website in question has.
Requesting to Remove Financial, Medical & National ID Information
If you find some website displaying your personal information that can be used to perform identity theft, don’t hesitate to request the removal of such results from Google.
This information includes your social security number or any other identification number, your bank account or credit card number, confidential medical records, or images of your signature.
Requesting to Remove Images of Minors
Users under 18 or their authorized representatives can make a request for Google to remove search results displaying their images.
However, remember that Google requires evidence that the representative is entitled to act on the minor’s behalf, and only considers image URLs for removal.
Sometimes, for different reasons, you may not be able to remove content from Google. If that’s the case, there is another tactic you can apply called search result suppression.
It consists of publishing positive content associated with your name or business, so negative content gets pushed back from the first page of Google.
|DID YOU KNOW: Although search result suppression is not the go-to method for saving your reputation, considering that according to Google facts and stats 75% of users don’t get past page one of Google’s search results, it’s still a pretty solid solution.|
|Removing from Google the content you don’t want to be seen can be done in different ways, depending on whether you own the website or not.|
|Removing your personal information and other unwanted search results from Google can be important in protecting your online reputation or your business.|
|Some of the ways include changing your privacy settings on social media accounts, opting out of data broker sites, and carefully reading the terms of service of the websites you use.|
|In specific cases, you can request Google to delete content from its search results to protect your privacy or reputation.|
Don’t Forget to Protect Your Social Media Privacy
If you’re a long-time social media user, chances are your posts, comments, and even pictures don’t look and feel the way they did when you posted them anymore.
Old content can often be a potential threat to your reputation or cause trouble if seen by your employer. Here’s where knowing how to remove things from Google comes in handy.
To keep this from happening, make sure to delete and remove the tags from old pictures and posts you don’t want to be seen.
To avoid these situations in the future, try to share, post, and comment in a way you’re comfortable with the world seeing, or make your profiles private by choosing your audience.
When you want to remove results from Google search, in addition to making sure all the privacy settings are adjusted on your accounts, try to set clear boundaries with your friends and family regarding the kind of content you’re comfortable with the posting about you on their social media.
|DID YOU KNOW: Cybercriminals can use all available sources to collect and sell your personal information on the black market. One of the ways to determine if your data is being used in this way and try removing such search results from Google is to conduct your phone number search on the dark web.|
Removing Outdated Content
Crawling and indexing pages can be quite an overwhelming task, which is why Google and other search engines make cached copies of the pages crawled so they can access them faster upon request.
This means that not every time you search the web the freshest version of a web page appears. Google recrawls pages at different intervals, and if administrators or webmasters make any changes, Google can still display the previous version of the page until it’s recrawled.
In such cases, you can use the Google Search Console and go to the removal tool to request removing Google search results containing outdated content or the pages that no longer exist, but appear in search results.
You need to submit the URL of the page in question and request its removal. Google specifies that this can be done only for the pages that have been modified or removed.
You will receive a confirmation once your request is received and another one when it’s processed, while also being able to see all of your requests and their status at the bottom of the page.
Once Google determines that the submitted page is removed, the process is pretty straightforward. However, if the page is live with only its content changed, you need to take a few additional steps to remove something from Google.
If Google determines that the URL you listed is still live, you will be asked to check one of two options: that the snippet and cache are outdated and need to be changed, or that the page is removed.
Once you click on the option that the content appearing in search results is outdated, you will be given the option to submit the words in the snippet that are no longer on the live version of the page.
|DID YOU KNOW: When you manage to delete Google search results, the content still remains on the web page where it‘s posted and can appear in other search engines results or be found directly on the website unless the administrators delete it.|
Set Google Alerts
If you want to keep your online reputation under control, setting up Google Alerts to let you know when you might look into removing something from Google is a great thing to do.
Set up a free account and enter the keywords you want to be alarmed for when used—this can be your name, your business or product, or any topic that interests you. This way you’ll receive notifications when any of the keywords you selected are mentioned online.
Additionally, you can choose how often you want to receive notifications and to what email address, and specify the language, region, or type of content you want to monitor. Once you set up your preferences, click on the “Create Alert” button and you’re all set.
|DID YOU KNOW: Knowing how to delete Google search results is an important skill in protecting your privacy and online safety. But Google is not the only place you can find your data, so make sure you know how to remove your data from the internet and other public sources.|
Being aware of the information about you available online is the first step towards protecting your reputation, as well as preventing identity theft and other possible scams.
With all the steps provided in this article, you’ll hopefully be able to choose the right process depending on the type of content you want to be removed and the reasons for it.
Also, you’ll be all set to protect your personal information and keep it away from commonly available databases.
When using different websites or social media platforms, you need to agree with their terms of service, so make sure you fully understand them. There is certain information that you can keep away from search engines by choosing the proper security settings, but this is not always possible.
You’ll need to make all of your social media and different website profiles private or delete them, opt-out of databases that collect and share your information, and take some or all of the steps provided in this article on how to remove search results from Google.
According to Google, when you delete your history manually or it’s automatically deleted based on your auto-delete settings, the process of removing it from the system is started right away. However, for some purposes like business and legal requirements, certain data may be saved for an extended time.