Google Legal Removals and Requests
Google states that if you come across content on any google product that may violate the law to let them know so that they can consider blocking, removing or restricting access to it. Some people may see this and think that they can block or remove websites that are spreading bad information about them or their business or are displaying private information and so contact Google to have it removed.
Pages that have been pointed out don’t always get removed however as sometimes Google may not see it as being necessarily illegal or in the wrong. We’re here to tell you why this might happen and what to do if it does and you believe that the offending website is still in the wrong even if Google doesn’t believe so.
Why Google Won’t Remove Content
A software engineer for Google posted a whole blog on why some pages don’t get removed. Overall the main reasons for a web page not to be removed is that it is not classed as spam and that most, if not all, removals tend to happen because a court had ordered Google to remove the website in question. It is also done so that Google doesn’t have to take sides in the dispute and can better protect its reputation.
Removing the page from the search results doesn’t actually remove the site itself as it can still be found if going directly to it or by simply using a different search engine.
According to the software engineer, the best actions to take if Google cannot remove the website is to either contact whoever owns the website and convince them to take it down/modify it or get a court to agree with you and force the website to be removed. Once it has been removed, Google will update its index with the changes next time they crawl the page.
Why Google Won’t Remove Your Private Information
Google’s web search works by indexing pages on the web and making them available to people who are searching. Because Google doesn’t actually control the information on the pages on the web they will usually only remove them from their index if the site owner themselves removes them from their site or blocks the content from search engines.
There are some exceptions to this though and if you really want the information removed then first you will need to get in contact with the site owner and work with them to get it removed and then ask Google to remove it once you have come to an agreement. The overall best thing to do would be to make sure measures are in place that stops your private information from being leaked in the first place.
Data Protection Breaches – Keep Private Information Off Google
The first thing to note when trying to remove information from Google or other search engines is to be mindful that anything that you post online including images, videos, blog posts etc. could end up on there. When using social media you should be able to customise your profile settings to keep any information you post on their private and just between friends so that no one from the public can just access and use your it.
On most social networks you should also be able to hide addresses and names from being indexed by Google while still allowing your friends and family to see them. You can even keep your profile from showing up entirely on some social media platforms, Facebook is a good example of a platform that allows you to do this.
Removing Private Information That is On a Site You Don’t Own
Sometimes your private information ends up online no matter the steps you take to prevent it. What can you do if that information ends up online? Google rarely helps out with these issues as stated earlier so a different approach must be taken. A good example of this is if you have applied for a home extension and given your home plan, this will be displayed on the government website where it cannot be removed.
Contact the site owner themselves and ask that they remove your information from the page in question or block it from search engines. If successful, Google will edit their index when the site is next crawled, also mentioned earlier, and the content should no longer appear in the search results.
The majority of webmasters will not agree to remove content so now you turn to Googles legal procedures to get the content removed.
If Google also declines to remove the content then you have 1 more option before it gets expensive. Contact the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) who can rule in your favour and force Google to remove content.
If the ICO also rule against you, your final option is to get a solicitor involved which can incur a hefty expense.
If the content is removed during any step above
Once a document is removed, it will remain in the search results until Google recrawls the page again to get a fresh copy (this could take weeks). If you want the information taken down as soon as possible and don’t want to wait for the recrawling process you can specifically request that Google remove the information from their index. You can only request this once the information no longer exists on the web.
To do this you will first need to access Google’s public removal tool, then choose “New removal request” and enter the URL of the page in question. If the owner removed the page or blocked it you will need to select “Webmaster has already blocked the page” and the checkbox that says “the page returns a 404/410, or has been blocked by robots.txt or a noindex meta tag:”.
Google will then use this information to check that the page no longer exists or is blocked and then remove it from the search results.
If the site owner has modified the page instead so that it no longer includes your personal information you should choose the option that says “Content has already been removed from the page” and then enter a term that has been removed from the page. These terms have to be removed from the page and cannot appear anywhere else on it.
Google will check to make sure that the terms no longer exist on the page and then they will remove their copy of the page from their index until the recrawling process is complete and they update the index with the modified page.
If a Legal Request et al fails
After exhausting all your options you still come up short, or you need a professional to do all this for you, we can help. Reputation Management is a middle ground between doing it yourself or spending multiple thousands per month on solicitors. Reputation Management has the benefit of being able to take over search result pages so that the negatives are pushed to page 2 or 3 where no one ever ventures so even if the negative content is kept live, no one will find it.