How to Clean Up Google Search Results and Restore Your Reputation
July 31, 2014
A bad link, article or arrest record can destroy your reputation. Learn how to clean up Google search results and take control over your online image.
Google and other search engines are all-powerful in our digital age. They dictate the success and failure of businesses and employees alike. This trend is so strong that the front page of Google is now considered just as important as a CV or business card.
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When was the last time you took a few moments out of your day to google yourself? What appears in the search results? You might be surprised by what you find… or if you’re like many people, horrified.
If you've ever had a run-in with the law, no matter how it turned out, it could be the first thing that pops up in search results when your name is queried on Google and other major search engines.
That’s not all. Your private pictures could be posted on unflattering websites thanks to a jealous ex-lover. Your business could be listed on “don't work for” websites if you’ve ever had an altercation with an employee. If you've ever had an unhappy customer, you could be on “scam” sites.
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There are many ways that search results can negatively impact your reputation or that of your business.
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Keep in mind that the use of Google as a free background check on companies and individuals is also very prominent in 2018. Many hiring managers, for example, are now required to Google employees before giving them the job.
That’s right, they’re required to google your name before hiring you and decide based on the search results.
If a potential employee, employer, landlord, or lover did a background check on you through Google, what would they see? Would it encourage them to continue a relationship with you, or would it fill their head with doubts?
If there’s unflattering information about you on the internet, you're not powerless. This is 2018, after all.
It is entirely within your ability to change your internet search results for the better! Are you interested in removing harmful search results about you from Google, Bing and Yahoo and, in doing so, improve your overall presence online? Yes? Then read on!
What Sites Can I Remove My Info from to Keep My Search Results Clean?
There are several website categories that you don't want your name, face, or business attached to. These include:
People Search Sites
People search sites allow strangers to view personal information like your home address, telephone number, email address, and more. This can be extremely irritating, and if your personal information is up on the internet, salespeople can access it and use it to contact you against your will.
It also increases the chance of identity theft and credit card fraud, depending on how much information is on the search site.
Removing your information from people search sites allows you to protect your privacy.
Public Record and Background Search Sites
We probably don’t need to tell you that if you've had a run-in with the law or another uncomfortable encounter that's on public record, you want to remove yourself from directory and search sites that share this information with the world.
These kinds of sites generate a great deal of traffic, so even if you're not being searched, information on these sites will still get attention from Google. If you don't want the entire world's first impression of you to be the MIP charge you received in high school, you don't want your information on these sites.
Ex Revenge Sites
Have you ever seen revenge sites that allow ex-lovers to post revenge materials? These sites are growing in popularity this year, and the reason why you wouldn't want your information on them is obvious.
The only reason for these sites to exist is so that angry lovers can post demeaning or incriminating material to mar their ex's internet and in-person reputation. These sites are also notorious for extortion, offering “removal” for hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars.
Fortunately, you can beat them at their own game and remove the information yourself!
These are very popular and gain high status on Google, especially in 2018.
Any mugshot that you've ever had – for any reason – can appear on these sites. Mugshots are a matter of public record.
Due to the obscene amount of traffic on these sites, they rise very quickly in Google’s rankings and it's likely a mugshot will be one of the first results for your name if you've ever gotten one. This can be extremely damaging, and you'll want to remove it as soon as possible!
These are more common for businesses and business owners, and they can cause big problems.
Most people in 2018 (over 90%) will google a business before buying from them, and if the company shows up on a complaint site, it’s bad news. Complaint sites don't have to tell true stories, either. In today's’ competitive industry, a competitor might try to undermine your business on a complaint site!
Take control by having these “complaints” removed.
How do you get your personal details off of the above-mentioned websites?
Privacy Policies and Removal Requests
The most obvious way to eradicate negative information from the internet is to ask the webmaster to remove it.
Of course, you have to be working with a website where the point isn't to extort you for the information removal (asking one of the ex-revenge sites is likely going to result in a request for money), but you may get lucky with this approach.
Google’s “Remove Outdated Content Tool”
In some rare cases, Google will actually step in and remove information about you from the internet via their Remove Outdated Content Tool.
The policies on what Google is willing to remove are complicated and vary by the problem you’re having. In short, there are certain things Google will remove and things that they will not, and this can change at any time at the discretion of Google.
The following is a snippet offered by Google regarding their removal policies:
“You can ask Google to remove your sensitive personal information, like your bank account number, or an image of your handwritten signature, or a nude or sexually explicit image or video of you that’s been shared without your consent, from Google search results.”
Unfortunately, the following snippet is from the same page explaining Google’s policies:
“Even if Google deletes the site or image from our search results, the webpage still exists and can be found through the URL to the site, social media sharing, or other search engines. This is why your best option is to contact the webmaster, who can remove the page entirely. If a photo or information shows up in Google search results, it just means that the information exists on the Internet and it doesn’t mean that Google endorses it.”
Obviously, this is very select information. Most people who want to fix their internet reputation have different issues to contend with.
Third-Party Removal Services
In 2018, companies that offer to remove harmful information from the internet are everywhere. Established, award-winning firms like InternetReputation.com are your best bet for quality and reliability.
Our Internet Reputation team has decades of combined experience and we understand how to remove and monitor the internet for damaging information. We can even do it with almost no effort on your part.
Our third-party removal services are the quick and easy way to clean up Google search results and ensure all negative information on the internet is removed. This way, the fate of your reputation isn’t left depending on Google's rules or the goodwill of a webmaster.
The type of comprehensive internet reputation rehabilitation we offer is designed for today's online world.
How to Clean Up Google Search Results and Restore Your Reputation
Keep Your Social Media Profiles Clean
Your social media profiles, no matter how much fun you have with them, can sabotage you if you’re not careful. The good news is that, in 2018, social media companies offer several options that enable you to protect your own internet reputation, without involving a third party or getting in contact with Google.
Social media has been a worldwide revolution, and almost everyone uses it, but many people are extremely careless with it. If you post incriminating pictures of yourself on the internet, it’s likely going to come back to haunt you.
If you want to keep your social media profiles clean, here's some advice:
Adjust Privacy Settings
Adjust the privacy settings on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. You probably don’t want your profiles set to public. Particularly if you engage in activities that could be seen as bad or unprofessional (drinking, smoking, etc) and you or your friends share these pictures.
Everything on the internet carries a risk. Revisiting the topic of ex revenge sites, for example, any picture from your Facebook can be inserted into one of those posts for everyone to see. You can reduce this risk and privatize your information.
Be Careful About What You Share
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, even with your online reputation.
If you don't want pictures of compromising situations to be used against you, don't share them and don’t let your friends take them to share on their accounts. Also, stay away from social media if you've had a bit too much to drink, or are extremely emotional.
Sharing too much or the wrong type of information can ruin a good reputation in the blink of an eye. Likewise, though, properly-managed social media profiles can do wonders for an online reputation.
TIP: If social networking sites have caused you problems in the past, consider taking a break from social media. You don't want to accidentally make things worse.
How to Clean Up Google Search Results on Bing and Other Search Engines?
While Google is the heavy-hitter in the world of search engines, Bing and other search engines have a significant amount of users as well. For example, users of Windows phones are automatically directed to Bing when they do a mobile search, which means they don’t even see Google’s front page.
Bing has processes similar to Google for requesting outright information removal. The steps are as follows:
- Visit Bing.com and complete a simple search.
- Select “Help,” which is located in the bar at the bottom of the screen.
- Click "Report a Concern” in the Safety and Privacy column.
- File your concern and wait for a reply.
Of course, removing the information this way is completely up to Bing. Most of the time, they probably won't do so if it's public domain. The following is taken directly from their policy information:
“Please understand that Bing does not control the content that websites publish or which appear in search results. Removing a website from search results does not remove the content from the web; it can still be discovered by going to the site. To remove content from a website, your best option is usually to contact the site's webmaster and request that the content be deleted or removed.
“Reporting a concern may not result in the removal of a website from search results. Bing only removes search results that meet a specific set of conditions and circumstances to ensure our users have access to relevant information.”
For the majority of other search engines standard removal will work the same way. All will have a way for you to contact them and request that information be removed. However, if the information isn't a social security number or something of that nature, it's unlikely the search engine will take any action.
Third party companies like InternetReputation.com can show you how to clean up Google search results, repair the damage and put things on the right track.
Monitor Your Name to Maintain a Clean Reputation and Protect Your Privacy Online
Once you’ve cleaned up your name on Google and other search engines and your reputation is back on track, you’ll want to make sure that it stays that way. Just as a plant will die if you forget to water it, you can’t just fix your reputation and then forget about maintaining it.
Monitoring your name online can help you with maintenance by alerting you of any potentially-negative pages appearing in search results.
With monitoring services, you’ll be able to address any new issues right away. InternetReputation.com offers reputation monitoring and privacy protection services that help you protect and defend your online reputation for just this reason. The Monitoring & Private Protection services can help keep your internet reputation clean!
We also offer an alert service, so you will be notified any time your name or other personal details are published on the internet.
With us on your side, you can rest assured that we're monitoring your reputation and working to clean up Google search results for your name. We can help you rehabilitate and manage your online reputation, and our services will keep results for your name clean so only the best info about you is seen on the web.
Call us at 844-745-6673 to set up a free consultation or click here for additional information.