One of the best and worst things about the Internet is that everything on it is there forever. This becomes a problem if you want to get rid of something outdated, remove personal information, or even just evolve your brand. Luckily, there are now tools that can help you remove the content you don’t want and replace it with the things you do.
Why Removing Unwanted Search Results from Google is Worth It
There are lots of reasons you might want to remove unwanted content from Google. Maybe you’ve had an unfair review left by an angry customer, or you want to rebrand and your old content is holding you back.
Whatever the reason, it’s normal to want to leave the past behind and evolve. Being able to remove search results that no longer serve you can help you grow your brand, find a new audience, rebuild your reputation, and improve your SEO.
And once you’ve removed the bad results and replaced them with good ones, you’ll feel more confident promoting your business and waste less time worrying about your reputation.
The Investment Needed to Remove Unwanted Search Results
If you really want to remove unwanted results from Google, you’ll need to be prepared to make a small investment.
There are a few steps you can take for free, but they may not be enough. If you want to be as thorough as possible, you’ll need the help of a reputation management tool.
These can help you remove search results, reviews, comments, or even records that you don’t want. They can also help you replace old content with new, relevant links and protect you from online threats.
These tools are invaluable if you want complete control over your online reputation – but that does mean you have to pay. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to choose from at different price ranges, and most of them will give you a quote based on your own, specific needs.
6 Steps to Removing Unwanted Search Results from Google
Taking control of your online reputation and removing unwanted search results will help you grow faster and feel more confident in your brand. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get rid of the Google results you no longer want people to see:
Step 1 – Audit Your Online Accounts
The first step to removing unwanted search results on Google is getting rid of any of your own outdated content.
This could be from your website, your social media, or accounts you’ve subscribed to that share your personal information online. You have control over and access to most of these results, so it’s easy enough to audit your accounts.
Here are some things you should consider:
Delete Posts, Pages, and Accounts You No Longer Need
The easiest thing you can do is delete your old posts. Delete them on social media, delete any blog posts or web pages you don’t want, and delete any other accounts you don’t want showing up in search results anymore.
Depending on what platform you’re using, there are different ways to do it, but it’s usually as easy as selecting the post or account and deleting it. This won’t remove search results immediately, but it will stop them from reappearing after you complete the next few steps.
Check Your Privacy Settings
The next thing you should do is check the privacy settings on all of your accounts.
This includes your Google account, your social media, and any subscriptions you have. Some accounts, like Facebook, make your profile automatically available on Google Search. If you want to separate your personal and professional life, this might be something you want to avoid.
Go to the settings on every online account you can think of, and see which ones are sharing your information with Google. Turn on as much privacy as you want or need, and then use the “Outdated Content” tool described in Step 4 below to update the Google Search result.
Add a noindex Meta Tag
This is pretty technical, and requires you to add a little piece of code to the header script of your posts or pages with a noindex meta tag, that looks like this:
This will stop Google from indexing the page, even if other sites link to it. So, next time Google crawls your site, it will stop suggesting that page in search results, even if other pages link to it.
Adding this code will also avoid your damaging SEO when you delete your old posts and pages.
Step 2 – Use a Reputation Management Service
Once you’ve done everything you can to remove content you control, it’s time to get help from experts.
A reputation management service will help you control what is being said about you online, including content shared about you, and search results related to you or your brand.
These services can help you identify, and remove Google search results, as well as help you get rid of negative reviews or contact webmasters to have them remove URLs.
Trying to get search results removed from Google can be both technically difficult and extremely time-consuming. Reputation management services can help you navigate the ins and outs of removing results, as well as quickly replacing old URLs with new links you actually want people to click on.
There are plenty of great services to choose from, with different features like brand management, review scraping, and even analyzing your online reputation.
Our top recommendation for managing your online reputation, though, is Nextiva. They specialize in helping monitor all of your social channels, engaging with customers, and analyzing social media performance.
They can also help you schedule and publish content on your social media to save time. All of the publishing tools you need are in one place with Nextiva.
Step 3 – Contact the Site Owner Directly
If there are search results about you or your brand you want removed, and another site is hosting this content, you can reach out to them directly. This step can be a little tricky because it’s not always easy to find contact information for a domain or website owner. It also relies on that person being willing to remove the content.
(We’ll talk about what you can do if they won’t remove the content in Step 5.)
If you still can’t find anything, there are a few tools that will let you look up domain owners. These tools are called “whois” and are accessible through hosting sites like Bluehost, GoDaddy, and whois.net.
Once you are able to contact the site owner, ask them to delete, edit, or remove the pages and content you want gone. Then, they’ll also need to add a noindex meta tag to those pages to stop them from showing in search results.
Try to be as calm and professional as possible when you first make contact. The site owner will be more likely to help you if you’re polite, and the goal is to resolve things peacefully before escalating the situation or threatening legal action.
If you do find them unwilling to cooperate, though, move on to the next step.
Step 4 – Get Help from Google
Google has some power when it comes to removing search results.
There are some things that you can easily have removed, like personal information, anything illegal, hate speech, or slander. If you want something a little less dramatic removed, like an outdated blog post or an old negative review, it might be harder to get Google to take it down.
Luckily, for harmless results like this, Google does offer some tools you can use to try to remove the results on your own.
Here are some ways you can try removing the results directly through Google Tools:
Use Google Search Console
This is a temporary solution, but using your Google Search Console account, you can request to have a URL blocked for 6 months. To make this permanent, you’ll then need to add the noindex meta tag mentioned earlier.
As long as you own the URL, you can log into Google Search Console, open the Removals tool, select Temporary Removals, click New Request, then select Temporarily Remove URL, and Next to complete the process.
This is a great way to quickly block a URL from Google search results, but it only lasts six months so don’t forget to add the index code.
Use the Outdated Content or URL Crawler Tool
Google has two tools to help you remove results faster. One is a URL crawler available through Google Search console, and the other is an Outdated Content tool available to anyone with a Google account.
With the URL tool, you can ask Google to recrawl your site once you’ve made changes, which will help it update the index faster and remove pages you’ve deleted.
If you’ve been able to delete content or results from another site, you can submit a request through Google’s Outdated Content tool to get Google to review the page and quickly update the content or URL.
These tools won’t delete content, but they will speed up the process of removing any URLs as soon as you delete them using the other steps.
Ask to Remove Content on Legal Grounds
This won’t work in every situation, but there are circumstances where you can request content be removed from Google on legal grounds.
This only covers personally identifiable information or illegal content, but it’s worth a try if you are desperate or worried about your safety due to search results. You can view the full list of personal information or legal reasons you can request a search result to be removed from Google here.
Step 5 – Take Legal Action
If you’ve tried every other step on the list and nothing has worked, it might be time to consider contacting a lawyer.
If the search results you want to be removed are having a strong negative impact on you or your business, you may have grounds to file an action against a webmaster or get legal support to bring it to Google.
If any of the results are slanderous, in breach of copyright, illegal, or are putting you in danger, this will be easy. If it’s just a case of a bad customer review, you’ll have a harder time building a case.
Make sure you weigh up the pros and cons before engaging in a legal battle, because even if you can’t remove the results, a reputation management service may be able to help you bury them or hide them, and will definitely be cheaper.
If you are set on using legal action to get the results removed, though, your best bet is to contact a content removal attorney. They’ll be able to help you send the right letters and demands, file the right documents to remove content, and get it permanently removed from Google search.
Once you’ve removed the results you don’t want from Google, you should take steps to improve the rest of your image online. This includes monitoring and removing negative reviews, cleaning up your brand, and pushing positive content to the top of search results.
An online reputation service will help you easily position yourself the right way online, and save you from having to remove Google results in the future. They’ll take out all the hard work and stress for you, so you can focus on growing your brand. Check out our top recommendations here.