Update: Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) has been rebranded to Google Search Console. Everything is exactly the same as it was before. Just a new name. The name was changed to be more inclusive since webmasters are just one of the many groups of people that use GWT.
Sometimes you find an article that has been written about you personally. Whenever you Google yourself and find something negative, it can be very distressing. Here’s an example of an experience that was shared with me recently:
I have deleted my Facebook account, but it still shows my name and username (which I used elsewhere) when you Google search for it. On YouTube I also deleted my account, but comments that others made still come up with my name attached. I desperately want to delete them, but I do not know how. I am never getting on Facebook or YouTube again. I just want it all deleted – especially those comments with my name on them.
I asked them why they wanted to vanish from the Google index. I also asked what they might have done to put themselves in a situation where they needed to remove their information. I received an interesting reply:
I didn’t do anything really bad. I just replied to someone on YouTube in the video comments section. He didn’t like my reply and found out my name. I suspect it was from Facebook where I couldn’t hide or delete my email which included my username. I guess I better be careful what I say on there – will everything there be copied and put on the internet too? I just don’t know what this is all about. Anyways, I got my name deleted from the video comments section by contacting YouTube and the video uploader. If it takes months to delete this from Google cache, that’s bad news for me.
This individual had two major issues at this point:
- From a marketing standpoint, this could really hurt their image. You always need to take quick action to resolve negative reviews about you and your company.
- On a personal level, they were also being harassed by the same person who found out their email address.
You need to always be aware that anything you put on the web could be used against you, whether it’s justified or not. The best way to help yourself is to be wary of what you put on the web to begin with. If you do find yourself in a situation like this individual’s, however, you do have some actions you can take.
Note: If you ever feel like you are in real physical danger, your first step should be to contact your local police.
Removing the Content from YouTube
Often times, your best bet is to contact the offender directly. Many times, people don’t realize that you have a problem with the content. However, if you don’t feel comfortable contacting them, or they do not respond to your request, you can take more formal action.
If you want to formally get the content removed, you need to fill out YouTube’s privacy complain form. In most cases, YouTube will contact the offending account. Don’t worry, they will keep your personal details private and the offender will not know you submitted the form.
Note, if your issue is that of copyright, you need to fill out a copyright complaint.
Removing a Page or Site From Google’s Search Results
If you need a page to be removed, then you need to get the webmaster to remove the page. Google is a search engine, but they do not actually control the content on the web, so they cannot remove the page. While Google can remove the page from search results, the page would remain accessible by other means, unless the webmaster removes the page. If you are the webmaster, you can do this with the URL removal tool in Webmaster Tools.
If you contact the webmaster and they do not remove the content you can use this tool to take legal action.
In either case, once the page has been removed, you can go here to get the content removed from search results – including snippets and the cache. If you want to keep images from appearing in a Google image search, go here.
Your Search Engine Presence
What you say will show up on Google if you post it on a web page, forum, or even a comment on a YouTube page. So in all keep in mind there are some crazy people out there that take things to the extreme. I have been tempted to write many things and I usually pull back and think “Do I want this comment associated with my name?” Always remember that removing your web presence can take a great deal of time and effort.
If you want to increase your web presence in order to rank ahead of negative reviews or content about you, you need to implement a good SEO strategy. A good SEO plan can help you or your company to stay above negative search results. If you need some clear cut advice on various SEO strategies or want to learn more about it, you can watch these videos.