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You want people to find out about your brand–but what if Google search results are outdated, wrong, or contain personal information?
It’s not always possible to remove unwanted content from search results, but you should get rid of anything you can. You may also be able to make the unwanted content less visible in search results, if you cannot remove it.
The Top Online Reputation Management Companies for Removing Unwanted Results from Google
Removing undesirable Google search results is a key part of protecting your brand’s reputation. Instead of handling this issue in-house, many businesses enlist professional services to help them maintain a positive online image. These are the top options:
- WebiMax – Best overall
- NetReputation – Best for ultra-responsive customer support
- InternetReputation.com – Best for personal reputation management
- Reputation Defense Network – Best for permanently removing false content
- Podium – Best for getting reviews automatically
- SEO Image – Best for legal and medical practices
- Gadook – Best for rebranding after reputation attacks
- BirdEye – Best for getting Google and Facebook reviews
- Reputation.com – Best for knowing your competition’s reputation
- Go Fish Digital – Best for improving Yelp reviews
- Netmark.com – Best for hands-off, fast responses to reputation hits
You can read our full reviews for each of these companies here.
5 Steps to Remove Unwanted Google Search Results
Here’s what you can do to remove unwanted search results from Google:
- Step 1 – Start with the Content You Control
- Step 2 – Use an Online Reputation Management Company (WebiMax)
- Step 3 – Contact the Webmaster to Remove the Content
- Step 4 – Ask Google to Remove the Search Result
- Step 5 – Check If the Removal Was Successful
The Easy Parts of Removing Unwanted Google Search Results
The good news is that some type of content is easy to remove from Google search results. Some examples include personally identifiable information, defamatory content, and even background reports and arrest records.
The steps for removing these types of content are also fairly straightforward. You may even be able to do it yourself with basic computer and internet knowledge. This is especially true if it’s your own content, such as an outdated web page or blog post.
It’s even easier when you use a reputation management service like WebiMax.
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 a professional 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.
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.
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.
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
Insert the metatag: <meta name=”robots” content=noindex”>
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.
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
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.
Get a Free Audit and Proposal from WebiMax
Ask WebiMax for a free audit of your internet reputation. Don’t be surprised if WebiMax discovers unfavorable content that you didn’t know about.
Next, a representative will create a custom proposal and quote. You can opt-out of any services you don’t want. Either way, the rep will let you know what the company can do to get rid of any unwanted Google search results. They’ll also give you a time frame for the removal.
The great thing about WebiMax is that it doesn’t matter if the content can be removed or not. The company will devise and implement a strategy to push content that cannot be removed down to lower search result pages. Since most people never make it past the first page of Google’s search results, this often equates to removing the content.
Explore WebiMax Services
You might prefer that unwanted or harmful results don’t show up on Google in the first place—or that future negative results that may show up get handled immediately. To assist with this, WebiMax offers reputation management. The company will monitor your digital presence and take appropriate action if negative information pops up.
Other WebiMax services include:
- Web design
- Social media marketing
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing
- Online PR
- Digital marketing
- Lead generation
- Local marketing
Step 3 – 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.
Request for Content Removal
This option is hit-or-miss, but it is worth exploring. Sometimes webmasters might be willing to remove harmful content if you ask them. You can find their contact information on the website’s Contact page.
Avoid threats and confrontations which could only make things worse. For example, a threatening email or legal demand letter may be added to the unwanted content. Google will recognize it as fresh content and elevate it in the search results.
Instead, be friendly and professional. When possible, speak to the webmaster on the phone. Again, emails or texts may be added to the unwanted content. 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 is worth noting that many website owners choose to take advantage of privacy settings through the WHOIS database. The website owner will hide contact information, leaving you unable to find this information easily. When you hire a reputation management company to represent you, the company may be able to track down the site owner more easily than you can.
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 4 – 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.
Step 5 – 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.
If you don’t like the idea of waiting for years, get in touch with an online reputation management service like Webimax. Come up with a plan for moving forward today.