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Not every search result about your brand or name will be positive. Some results are wrong, outdated, and contain personal information.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can remove unwanted content from Google. Even if you can’t permanently delete something, there are other methods to suppress those results—making them less visible. 

6 Steps to Remove Unwanted Google Search Results

Here’s what you can do to remove unwanted search results from Google:

  1. Start With the Content You Control
  2. Use an Online Reputation Management Company
  3. Identify the Content You Can’t Control
  4. Contact the Webmaster to Remove the Content
  5. Ask Google to Remove the Search Result
  6. Check If the Removal Was Successful

The Easy Parts of Removing Unwanted Google Search Results

Removing content from a Google search result is actually easier than it sounds. This is great news for anyone who wants to eliminate content from the web, including personally identifiable information, background reports, defamatory content, and arrest records.

The steps for removal are actually fairly straightforward. You can possibly do it yourself with a computer and basic internet knowledge. 

The Difficult Parts of Removing Unwanted Google Search Results

Some type of content is difficult or impossible to remove from Google search results. For example, content types like Sex Offender Registry Listings, government or law enforcement public records, and telephone numbers may be impossible to remove.

Equally, some types of content that can be removed may require extra steps. For example, you may need a takedown notice, legal request, or court order to remove Google results in some cases. You may also need to prove that the unwanted content infringes upon Google Policies, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or other such policies.

Things can also get complicated when attempting to remove other people’s content, even if it is about your brand. At the very least, you’ll need to contact the site owner or webmaster with a request to remove the content. This process may require a lot of patience and back-and-forth with the site owner before you are successful.

You may need help from a legal expert or an online reputation management company in some of these cases. Regardless, removing unwanted search results takes time and effort. It may even take a few days or weeks before the result disappears from the search results after completing all the necessary steps.

Step 1 – Start with the Content You Control

By far, the easiest type of content to remove from search results is the one that you own and control. This content includes your social media accounts, website, blogs, YouTube channel, and other online assets.

Delete the Unwanted Web Page

Start by deleting the unwanted web page. The process may look slightly different depending on your content management system (CMS). WordPress is a popular option, so we’ll use it for this example.

  • Log into your WordPress dashboard.
  • Hover on the web page or blog you’d like to delete.
  • Select Trash.
Image of a WordPress dashboard

The deleted web page will be stored in the Trash folder and can be recovered. You can also delete the page permanently from the trash if you wish.

image of the "delete permanently" button on a WordPress page

Block the URL from Google Search Results

Deleting the unwanted web page is only the first step. The web page was already indexed by Google and probably linked to other pages on your site or externally. This fact can come back to bite you.

Crawl bots, including Google, will tag the page as missing once you delete it. This will harm your SEO efforts and overall rankings for the remaining content. A quick way to get around this issue is to use the Google Remove URLs Tool.

This tool will help you remove the web page from Google search results.

To do this:

  • Go to your Google Search Console.
  • Click the Temporary Removals tab.
  • Select New Request.
  • Select Temporarily remove URL.
  • Click Next to complete the process.
image of google search console in the "removals" tab

This method permanently removes the URL from Google search results since you have already deleted the web page. You can also skip deleting the web page if you only want to remove it from search results temporarily.

This option removes your pages from Google search results for six months. That’s enough time to decide if you want to remove the search result permanently.

Stop Google from Indexing Your Content

There is also a way to stop Google from indexing your content in the first place, meaning your content can remain live without showing up in the search results. This is a good option if the content is still helpful, but you don’t want it showing up on the search engine.

You’ll need to use the noindex meta tag. To do this:

Go to the <head> section of the unwanted page’s HTML markup

image of html markup head

Insert the metatag: <meta name=”robots” content=noindex”>  

image of html markup meta name

Please note that some CMS like WordPress doesn’t give you access to the source code. In this case, you can use a third-party plugin like Yoast SEO to instruct web crawlers not to index your content.

image of Yoast SEO wordpress plugin

It’s also worth noting that this method is not foolproof. It is better to delete and block the content if you don’t want it to appear on search results.

Don’t Forget to Remove Related Social Media Posts

If you are someone who promotes the content you generate on your personal or professional social media accounts, you’re not alone. This is one of the best ways to alert people who are interested in you and your business about new content when you post it.

However, if you later delete the blog post or webpage because you no longer want to make this content available, you will want to delete any related social media posts as well. Google will return results for YouTube when someone performs a search, for example. Simply deleting your original webpage, but leaving the related YouTube post active, may allow people to still find the content you now want to remove.

You also may want to delete any related posts on Facebook or Twitter, as Google sometimes archives those posts and makes them available in its search results.

Step 2 – Use an Online Reputation Management Company 

Webimax homepage

Removing your content from Google search results is the easy part. However, things aren’t as straightforward when the unwanted content belongs to someone else. Your best bet is to use an online reputation management service like WebiMax.

WebiMax mainly uses content deletion and promotion. The company can help you delete unwanted content for search results, as long as there is proof of misinformation. WebiMax will also create new positive content to suppress the harmful content where deletion isn’t possible. The negative content is pushed past the first page, where people are unlikely to find it.

Nextiva, on the other hand, is an online platform that helps you generate more positive reviews and connect with your audience to bury negative content on your own.

Step 3 – Identify the Content You Can’t Control

If you decide to proceed with a reputation management company, they’ll handle this for you. But they may double-check with you to see if you actually want certain URLs, pages, or content removed. This is particularly important if you’re paying per removal, as you may decide to prioritize some content over the rest.

For some, you already know exactly what you’re trying to get removed (and that’s what brought you to this post). But for others, there could be several negative things about you or your business on the web that you don’t even know about—which is why this step is so important.

Run a Google Search

Since most people searching for you or your brand will be using Google, it makes sense for you to start here as well. This will also help you prioritize which pages, URLs, or pieces of content to start with.

For example, let’s say one particular piece of content could be perceived is more damaging to your reputation than something else. But it’s buried deep on the 10th page of the SERPs for all related keywords. You’d be much better off starting with something that’s the second or third result of a given search.

While you’ll ultimately get to both, it’s important to start with what the majority of people will discover first.

Get Organized

If there’s just one culprit that you’re trying to get removed, then you can just move on to the next step. But if you’re discovering multiple results that you want removed from Google, you should start to compile a list of everything.

Here’s why.

First, search results change. Just because a few URLs are top hits today, they may be harder to find next week. While it’s good news if unwanted search results drop in the rankings, you’ll still want to get those removed. And if you’re not organized now, certain things might slip through the cracks.

The easiest way to approach this is with a simple list. Use Excel or Google Sheets and just copy and paste each unique URL for the content you want gone. This will allow you to keep notes during your outreach to the webmasters and ultimately verify that the content has been removed.

Check Multiple Sources and Content Types

Google can ultimately index content from tons of different sources. So you’ll want to be thorough here as you’re making the list.

Unwanted search results can present themselves in a wide array of formats, including:

  • Blogs
  • News articles
  • Google Images
  • YouTube videos
  • Forum comments
  • Social media posts and comments
  • Customer reviews

Continue adding these to your spreadsheet whenever you come across something that you don’t want to appear on Google.

Step 4 – Contact the Webmaster to Remove the Content

Using a reputation management company is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of unwanted Google search results. However, this option isn’t open to everyone. If that’s the case for you, you may try to contact the webmaster to take down the unwanted content instead.

Take the list you put together in the previous step, and use it contact the appropriate webmasters.

Request for Content Removal

We want to give you a fair warning. This strategy requires a bit of work, and your efforts may not always pay off. With that said, it’s still worth trying. 

Start by looking for the webmaster/site owner’s contact information on the website. It might be on the About or Contact page or buried in the footer. Alternatively, you can use tools like DomainTools or Whois.net to find the webmaster’s contact information.

WhoIs domain lookup homepage

Always be friendly and professional when you’re contacting a site’s webmaster. Threats and confrontations likely won’t get you anywhere and will just make matters worse. The site could publish more negative information about you or your brand, which Google would recognize as fresh content and elevate it even higher in the search results.

So, keep your emotions out of this interaction. We find it easier to speak with people on the phone, especially when it comes to something like this.

Here’s why: If the webmaster has a vendetta against you, anything you put in writing might be published and used against you. They could screenshot your texts or emails and publish them, which just adds more fuel to the fire that you’re trying to extinguish.

We also prefer phone calls because it’s harder for your tone to be lost in translation. Emails and texts may be interpreted incorrectly and harm your chances of getting the content removed. 

If the webmaster is willing to cooperate with your request, the content will disappear from search results a few days or weeks after they delete it. 

It’s worth noting that many site owners use WHOIS privacy settings to hide their contact information. If this happens, you may not be able to contact them directly. 

Working with a reputation management company can help remedy this situation. They have the tools and experience required to track down site owners easier than you can do on your own. Reputation management companies also have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to track down even the more elusive webmasters.

Ask The Web Admin to Add a No-Index Tag

Asking the site owner to remove the unwanted content might be a tall order. There’s likely a good reason why they created the content in the first place. You can compromise and ask for a no-index tag to keep it from being indexed by Google.

Here, the webmaster will add the <meta name=”robots” content= “noindex”> to the header of the HTML page. This metatag instructs crawl bots not to index the content so it won’t appear on Google search results. Before the content disappears from Google search results, it might take a few weeks.

You can also ask the webmaster to remove identifying search phrases from the page. For example, your brand name may appear in the page description or title of the HTML page. However, simply removing the brand name from the page means people won’t find it in the search results when they Google your brand.

Step 5 – Ask Google to Remove the Search Result

There are limited instances where it is possible to remove content directly from Google. You can ask Google to de-index the unwanted content. This effectively removes the content from Google’s search engine. If this step is successful, Google doesn’t need to contact the site owner or publisher to de-index the content.

Find Out If You Qualify for De-Indexing

De-Indexing isn’t a silver bullet. But it can be a great option if you qualify. Some of the types of content that can Google is quick to de-index include:

  • Sexually explicit information
  • Identity theft or financial harm
  • Legal issues
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations
  • Right to be forgotten

It’s worth talking to an attorney or reputation management company about your options. For instance, an attorney may be able to spot copyright violations or other legal grounds to substantiate your removal request.

Submit a Removal Request to Google

Google offers a few removal scenarios on its support page. Simply scroll through the options and click the relevant link to your application. You’ll be redirected to a new page with the application steps and more details about submitting your request.

Then click on the Start removal request button to proceed.

Screenshot of Google's removal request button
You can ask Google to remove certain types of links from the search results by filling out a removal request.

This process isn’t really designed for negative publicity or unfavorable news articles. But it tends to work if you’re trying to remove personal information from Google, including:

  • Social security numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Images of driver’s licenses, passports, and identification docs
  • Images of handwritten signatures
  • Medical records
  • Confidential login credentials

Google may also consider the removal of doxxing information if your contact information is present on the same link as something explicit or calls to action for harm or harassment.

You’ll receive an automated email from Google to confirm that they’ve received your request. From there, they’ll evaluate the situation to see if it qualifies for removal.

Depending on the request type, it’s possible that Google may ask you for additional information. If this happens, they’ll send you more detailed instructions on what’s missing and how to submit it.

Google will send you a notification on the decision, which typically contains one of three messages:

  • The URLs will be removed from all queries
  • The URLs will be removed from queries containing personal identifying information (like names and aliases)
  • The request did not meet the requirements for a removal

If the request is denied, Google will include a brief explanation of why.

Step 6 – Check If the Removal Was Successful

Any one of the steps outlined here should work in most cases. Also, consider using multiple removal methods until you find one that works. Finally, check if the unwanted result has been removed successfully.

Enter the URL into the Search Bar

Type in or copy/paste the exact URL you attempted to remove in the search bar. Next, check if the unwanted content still appears on the search engine results.

Remember that it can take up to two weeks for the content to disappear from the search results. After that, you’ll have to wait for Google to re-crawl the pages before the result disappears.

Lastly, the URL is case-sensitive. So Google identifies different cases as different pages. Therefore, you may need to repeat the removal process for all the URL versions you’re attempting to remove. Be sure to check in every few days to see if the removal was successful.

Wait it out

It’s not always possible to remove unwanted content from search results. We mentioned suppressing the unwanted content. But, you’ll have to wait for Google to index and rank your new content.

The process can take a few months or up to a year. Eventually, the unwanted content will be pushed down to the second or third page or beyond, where people are less likely to see it.