While you surf the bitstream, you leave behind a digital trail of words and photographs that get picked up and are further indexed by Google robots, following which anybody can view the details. By the time your personal name hits Google, there is almost nothing that you can do. Google has stated that they do not remove content from active search results, unless that specific content is considered illegal or is in violation Google’s policies and guidelines. This being said, there are several ways you can remove your name from Google or un-Google your name. Mentioned below are the different steps.
Step 1: Learn about what personal info can be viewed
Regardless of whether you term it vanity search, ego-googling, or self-search, it is wise to check in with yourself on a regular basis. This is especially relevant when you are planning to switch careers or are heading for divorce. Search with your full name (both with and without your middle name). You can also search by entering your family name, nickname, and any other aliases you may have.
Step 2: Get in touch with the website that causes offence
There arise scenarios when a particular blog, website, or Facebook friend posts an unflattering image or potentially-embarrassing quote spoken by you, and Google has done its duty to immortalise that content on their search results. While Google may not be ready to take any action, the individual who posted the content “can” do something.
- If he or she is a friend, contact him or her and request politely for removal of the offensive content.
- If both of you are not friends, contact him or her through email by being direct, professional, and polite.
- If the individual is maliciously trying to tarnish your image, do not shoot an email because it can be potentially copied and pasted to cause further embarrassment. Instead, send a letter through postal service.
Step 3: Alter Existing Content
For content that can be controlled, such as Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter, alter the page that is linked to in Google search results. Log into your account and follow the link offered by the search result. Then, you can either delete the post or image or simply make modifications.
Google will delete info only if it is in violation to their guidelines and policies. If the info is being displayed on search results, you should fill out a form that is provided by Google.
Step 5: Eliminate outdated accounts
While obsolete accounts may not cause potential embarrassment, it is a good practice to discard information that is no longer relevant. In addition, change any personal info on social media sites such as Facebook or change the privacy settings so that your personal info is visible only to you. Change your name on the account page. While the links could still be potentially active, this step may, in all probability, leave the visitors puzzled with regard to where they have landed.
A Couple of Tips:
- There are certain free and paid services that will assist in clearing your name from search results. For example, LinkedIn and Ziki
- Utilise the removal request tool of Google to remove potentially embarrassing search results or content that is cached.