If you’re a business owner, public figure, or someone who wants to have a personal brand, chances are you work hard to rank your own name above others. For you, finding your name on the first page of Google is essential.
But for many others, the thought of their personal information being so easily accessible may feel like an invasion of privacy.
So, how can you remove your personal information from Google? In this article, we’ll show you the steps you can take to be as invisible as possible on search engines.
Why Removing Personal Information From Google is Worth It
If you’re an everyday person (like most of us are), you probably don’t want your personal information readily available—and rightfully so.
Maybe someone you don’t know starts following you on social media, or worse, in real life.
Or maybe you’re applying for a job and your potential employer runs a Google search on you (which some of them do).
In these situations and many others, it would be nice to have some control over what information about us is out there.
You may not be comfortable with the idea of strangers learning your home address, phone number, or email address. In some cases, this information can even be used to commit identity theft.
There are even websites that contain most people’s personal information, including your address, phone number, and email address. A paywall is the only thing that blocks these sites from revealing your information, but sometimes the cost is as low as $2.99.
On other sites (like background check sites), it’s possible for anyone to find out if you have a criminal record, whether or not you’ve been divorced, and even how much money you make. And most of these sites are relatively inexpensive as well.
And while sites other than Google itself will still be able to host your information, removing everything from Google will make it much harder for people to find.
So, if the idea of your personal information being so easily accessible makes you uncomfortable, then it’s definitely worth taking the time to remove your personal information from search engines.
The Investment Needed to Remove Personal Information From Search Engines
The good news is that removing your personal information from Google is a relatively easy process.
But before we get into how to do it, there are a few things you should know. First, depending on how much information is out there, it may take some time to remove everything.
You may also have to pay a small fee to have some of your information removed.
But the good news is that it’s not very expensive, and in the grand scheme of things, the investment is definitely worth it if it means protecting your privacy.
The real cost comes in if you want to remove your personal information from other sites. For example, if you want to remove your information from background check sites, you may have to pay a small fee.
And to remove your name across the web, you’ll need to spend time and money to reach out to each site individually.
To find out which websites are hosting your personal information, you can use a people search engine. These engines will scour the web for any mention of your name, email address, phone number, or home address.
And while some of the results may be old and outdated, it’s a good way to get an idea of which sites you need to contact.
A newer way to find out where your name is is through online reputation management software. This software will do a deep search of the web and compile a report of all the places your name appears.
It’s a good way to get an overview of your online presence, and it offers lots of other features, including the ability to monitor your online reputation and protect your privacy indefinitely.
10 Steps to Take to Remove Personal Information From Google
Now that we’ve gone over some of the basics, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to remove your personal information from Google.
Step 1: Do a Google search of your name
The first step is to do a Google search of your name in quotation marks, like this: “Your Name”. This will give you an idea of what information is out there.
If you see anything that you’re not comfortable with, make a note of it.
Step 2: Check Google’s cache
Next, check Google’s cache to see if there is any old information that you want removed. To do this, go to the search results page and click on the Tools drop-down menu.
Then, click on Cache. If you see anything that you want removed, make a note of it.
Google’s cache is a snapshot of what the page looked like when Google last visited it. So, if you see anything that you want to be removed, save the links.
Step 3: Check Google Images
You’ll want to check Google Images to see if there are any images that you want to be removed. To do this, go to the search results page and click on the Images tab.
There’s a chance that others will share some of your name and personal information matches, especially if you have a common name.
If you can’t find anything about yourself in the first few pages, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing there–it just means that it’s not very likely that someone will find it.
Step 4: Prevent information from showing up in Google searches
If you want to have something removed from Google, you’ll need to reach out to them directly. To do this, go to their Google search results removal form and fill it out.
First, the form will ask you whether you want to remove information you see in Google search or prevent content from showing in Google search.
If you are a website owner, you can go into your website and have your information removed from Google search engine results pages (SERPs) by taking the page down or by using the “noindex” tag. The noindex tag tells Google not to index a page, which means it won’t show up in search results.
If you’re not a website owner, the best thing you can do is restrict access to your information. You can do this by making your social media profiles private,
or by using a social media account with limited information. You can also create a strong password for any online accounts that you have.
Step 5: Remove information you see in Google searches
To remove information you see in Google search, the process looks a lot different. This is because the information is coming from a third-party site, not from your own sources.
If you only want to remove the information from Google search, select remove information you see in Google search, then choose Only in Google search results.
Then, the form will lead you to the Request removal forms. One is for outdated web pages and the other is for outdated images.
Follow the prompts on each form to fill out the required information. Google will then review your request and remove the content if they deem it inappropriate.
Step 6: Get Google involved if you’re not the website owner
If you want to remove the information from a website and your search engine results, but you’re not the website owner, you’ll need to fill out Google’s legal removal request form.
This is a more complicated process, and it can take some time for Google to review and remove the content because it is more serious.
In general, Google will only take action if the content is illegal, such as:
- Defamation, slander, or libel
- Unconsensually posted pornography
- Significant private information (e.g. Social Security number, bank account number, etc.)
- Hacking/phishing techniques
- Child exploitation
- Private documents
- Content on sites with exploitative removal practices
It’s important to remember that your information may still be on the web, even if Google removes it from their search engine. The best way to remove your information is to reach out to the website owner and have them take it down.
Step 7: Reach out to the website owner
If you want to remove your information from a website, the best thing to do is reach out to the website owner and have them take it down.
Oftentimes, a website will have a contact form or an email address that you can use to get in touch with them.
If you can’t find any contact information, you can try doing a Whois lookup to find the website’s owner. A Whois lookup is a search that lets you find out who owns a website or domain.
Once you have the website owner’s contact information, reach out to them and explain that you would like your information to be removed from their site.
In most cases, the website owner will be happy to remove your information. However, if they are not willing to remove it, you can try asking them to blur out your information or make it less visible.
And if you’re unable to contact the webmaster, the Whois lookup generally includes the website hosting company’s information. You can try contacting the hosting company and asking them to take down the content.
Most of the time, they will be willing to help you if you explain the situation.
Step 8: Pursue legal action
Odds are, you’ll probably be able to remove your information from the sites you need to either manually, with the help of Google, or through the third parties that own the websites.
However, if you can’t remove your information and it’s causing you serious harm, you may need to pursue legal action.
You can start by sending a cease and desist letter to the website owner or hosting company. This is a formal way of asking them to stop displaying your information on their site.
If they don’t comply with your request, you can take them to court. However, this is usually a last resort because it’s costly and time-consuming.
Before you pursue legal action, you will definitely want to consult with a lawyer to see if it’s the best course of action for your situation.
If you decide to do this, here’s what you can expect:
- The first step is to file a complaint with the court.
- Then, you’ll need to serve the website owner or hosting company with the complaint and summons.
- After that, there will be a hearing where both sides can present their case. This may last several hours or even days, depending on the complexity of the case.
- If the court rules in your favor, they will issue an order for the website owner or hosting company to take down your information.
- If they don’t comply with the order, you can ask the court to impose sanctions against them. This could include things like fining them or putting a lien on their property. In serious cases, it could result in jail time.
Step 9: Continuously monitor your online presence
To make sure that unwanted information doesn’t surface online, you need to monitor your online presence continuously.
There are a few different ways you can do this:
The first way is to do regular Google searches of your name, address, phone number, email, etc. This will help you catch any new information that’s been posted about you, but you probably won’t be able to see everything there is about you on the internet.
Another way to monitor your online presence is to set up Google Alerts. With this, you can get an email anytime someone posts something about you online.
You can also try using a service like InternetReputation.com or NetReputation. Businesses and brands generally use these services to monitor their online reputation, but they can be helpful for individuals as well.
Step 10: Keep your information private
Oftentimes, the personal information that gets out online originates from the person themselves.
So, to protect your information, you need to be careful about what you post online and who you give your information to.
Here are a few tips:
- Never post anything online that you wouldn’t want the world to see. This includes things like photos, videos, comments, etc.
- Be careful about what you share on social media. Even if your privacy settings are set to “private,” there’s always a chance that someone could see what you’ve posted.
- Only use social networking sites that you trust. Avoid sites that have a history of security breaches or that are known for selling user data.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to remove most of your personal information from Google and other search engines. However, it’s important to keep in mind that once something is online, it’s almost impossible to completely remove it.
So, the best thing you can do is take precautions to prevent your information from getting out there in the first place.
If you’re serious about controlling your online presence, the best way to do it is with online reputation management software.
While it’s mostly used by brands, there are plenty of individuals who use it as well.
There are a few different things that online reputation management software can do:
It can help you track your online presence and see what people are saying about you.
It can help you monitor social media and other websites for any mention of your name, address, phone number, email, etc.
Ready to get started? Check out our article on the best online reputation management platforms right now.