Igniyte's 2022 guide to removing content from Google

Removing content from Google is possible but it can be complex and form part of a proactive online reputation management strategy. Find out more here.

Removing content from Google – 2022 guide from Igniyte

Guide to removing content from Google

Online reputation management experts Igniyte understand just how important Google search results are to your business. But what if you want to remove content from Google? Is it possible? How does it work? Here’s the lowdown.

When someone searches your name or your business name on the Internet, the chances are they will use Google search.

The latest figures show that in 2022, 4.3 billion people around the world use Google over other search engines. To put it another way, Google owns more than 92% of the market share.

Google search results impact the reputation of the brand or individual concerned

This means that what shows up in Google search results matters a lot when it comes to businesses building their brand, or individuals concerned over their reputation.

Negative search results can adversely impact a brand’s external perception with customers and potential customers. And, of course, that’s where content marketing comes in.

Reputation management strategies include ensuring positive content shows up on Google search results in an organic way. Alternatively, it’s possible to buy advertising links that will boost page visibility.


Content marketing can influence Google’s search results

The aim of reputation management and digital marketing is to ensure that inaccurate information does not dominate search results. It’s also to make sure that fresh content appears on page 1 of Google search results.

And for individuals, personally identifiable information showing up in search results can cause problems beyond their business affiliations.

Google’s search results dominate the Internet. And for that reason, they dominate the content that people will see when they Google your name or your business name.


Can you remove a web page from Google?

So, what about removing content from Google? Is it possible to request removal of unwanted content from Google search results?

It’s a question that we are often asked at Igniyte, and we work with clients in removing content from Google where possible.

Other search engines can also impact the reputation of the subject, but in this blog, we’ll focus on Google web search results and whether it’s possible to remove personal information from search engine results.


Is it possible to remove content from Google?

If the first page of Google search results for your brand or business are all positive and accurate, then you may never have wondered whether it’s possible to remove content from Google.

But if people are routinely finding out about your business through negative content showing on online search results, then you may well want to take steps to remove it.

While the Internet is the kind of marketing tool that businesses could only dream of 30 years ago, it’s also largely unregulated. Anyone can write anything they like about you as a person, or about your business.

Google tends to rank negative search results high, so they will hover at the top of the first page. And, as such, can do an enormous amount of damage to your online reputation.


Why businesses and individuals want to remove content from search results

Removing content from Google becomes more of a concern when repeated negative content skews the results.

The more negative content there is, or the more sites it appears on that are considered to be high quality by Google, the longer it will stay.

For example, a story about financial fraud that is published on recognised mainstream media websites, such as Forbes or the Times, will be considered higher quality by Google and will show at the top of the search results.

Smaller and medium sized sites can also heavily influence the online content that people will see about you or your business. The impact of unwanted content can be profound and can often go on to impact everything from the business reputation to personal relationships.


The impact of negative content on reputation management

If you’re wondering how much of a problem this really is, and how many businesses are interested in removing content from Google, then you may interested to find out that a third of all businesses are concerned that negative content about them is coming up in search results.

Quite understandably, business owners and employees are concerned about incorrect information being written on web pages, or as a negative article or even through online reviews.


Search results help to form the external perception of a business

They are right to be concerned that this kind of online content could unfairly skew the external perception of their company. And, as part of their reputation management strategy, they may want to remove content from Google search.

We always advise clients to take a proactive approach to their reputation management and will always work with them in removing content from Google if possible.


Consumers trust search results

When we consider the fact that at least 65% of Internet users automatically trust search engines when it comes to researching a business, person, or brand, then the need to ensure negative content is kept to a minimum is clear.

There are other stats to back up the fact that the online reputation of a business is formed through the web page results from a Google search.


Search results are the 21st equivalent of ‘word of mouth’

These include the fact that 85% of people trust online reviews and information displayed on a news site as much as word-of-mouth recommendations from a friend or family member.

In other words, the first few links that people see via search results will inform their opinion. And these links could be anything from incorrect or biased personal information to other online content that forms a poor reputation.


Different methods for content removal

We’ll get to Google’s removal process later, but it’s worth knowing that should you want to remove personal information from a link or web page, then you can always try asking the Webmaster or author to remove information.

In our experience, however, the website owner or content author (whether individuals or at publisher level), is generally not willing to grant this request.

After all, they’ve generally placed the content for a reason. Sometimes, though, this does work as an approach, and you may well get a link removed.


Work with an experienced reputation management company

This kind of request is best made via a company such as Igniyte, as we have experience in forming a removal request that has a higher chance of working.

It’s always worth trying the above methods and asking for the negative link to be removed totally or asking for a few modifications to the content in order to remove your company name for example.


Taking control of your online reputation

Trying to gain more control over your online reputation through a request to remove URLs or content from a given page, can backfire.

There is always the possibility – however remote – that the webmaster may double down on the negative content by including the request for removal in a new piece of content.


Search engines love refreshed content

This kind of action doubles the chances of negative results as Google would consider this kind of addition ‘fresh content’, which always ranks higher.

Google and other search engines like to boost new content as it’s more current and therefore ranks higher.


Try getting the name removed rather than the page

If you can’t get the whole piece deleted by the site owner from showing up on search engine results, you could try asking the writer/owner to remove the personal information that’s causing a problem.

By removing the phrase or keywords that are showing up on the algorithm, this could remove the problem for the subject while allowing the content to remain in an altered form.

This would likely mean that the web page wouldn’t disappear, but it would drop down in the results shown by search engines and therefore do less damage to the subject’s online reputation.

It is sometimes possible to make a web page invisible to Google’s index, which means that over time it will drop out of the search results.


Launching an official Google removal request

If all the above fails, or isn’t deemed the best approach, then in some cases a Google removal request will be granted by the search engine.

The official removal process from Google is clear that a removal request will only be granted for online content under specific circumstances.

Negative reviews, for example, would most likely not fall into this category. However, revenge porn probably would.

So, Google takes the following two factors into account when asked to remove content:

  1. Whether the content can be removed for legal reasons. For example, where the content is not legally compliant.
  2. Whether removing the content could be considered as a way of protecting its users.

Google’s criteria for its removal process

Google is more likely to remove content from its search engine results if the site owner has breached legal obligations.

The kinds of legal breaches include things like the General Data Protection Regulations from the European Union, or example.

Here are some other examples of the kinds of removal requests that are likely to be granted.


Identity theft

Igniyte has successfully ensured that web pages are removed for violating terms of service violations that result in causing financial harm to the subject.

The kinds of information that Google might consider legal removals include a page that displays bank account details, credit card numbers, images of signatures or any other information that could reasonably be considered as a cause of fraud or ID theft.


If a web site charges for removal

It has been known for Google to remove negative content from the search engine if the site owner is trying to charge for removal of this kind of content in a kind of blackmail. They call this exploitative removal practices.

Obviously, this never applies to review sites and in any case doesn’t remove the page itself. Rather, it stops the page or post from showing up in search results.


Sexually explicit information

Google will remove some sexually explicit material that has been posted to a page without the subject’s consent.

However, this request still has to meet certain criteria, which are:

  • The subject is underage
  • The subject is nude or shown in a sexual act without consent
  • The content was supposed to be private and was made public without consent – something dubbed ‘revenge porn’
  • The subject didn’t consent to the act itself, nor to the image being made public in search results.

Copyright infringement

Both Google and Bing will agree to take down content that is considered copyright infringement.

This comes under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and includes content on a page that is infected with phishing or malware, content that violates trade marks and some forms of personal information.

The latter includes things like bank account and social security details or Government ID number.

Google often respects the fact that the DMCA protects copyright. However, often we find that we need to work with our legal partners to ensure removal.

You may also have heard of the Right to be Forgotten, which does apply if a page breaches GDPR. However, the Right to be Forgotten is a specific part of data privacy laws that only applies in Europe.


Help with removing content from search results

Working with a team experienced in reputation management is more likely to get you the results you need than going it alone.

Online reputation includes content removal, but also creating your own content that will naturally rank highly in search engine results.

For more information on creating your own content to push down any negative search results, or if you want us to help you get something removed from Google search, head to Igniyte.com.