How to Remove Personal Information From Search Results
There’s nothing like the horror of discovering that your personal information appears in publicly available search results. What should you do when this happens? Priority #1: don’t panic! In most cases, this can be remedied swiftly and without high costs.
The expert team at The Reputation Management Company has years of experience removing personal information from search results. We’ll explain the types of information you can have removed from Google, how to remove yourself from search results, and how to approach other websites to ensure that your private data is removed from search results.
Personal Information vs. Personally Identifiable Information
“Personal information” is a nebulous term that means different things to different people. It also means other things to companies that harvest data, depending on their practices! However, the key term you need to understand is Personally Identifiable Information or PII. This is the data that can be removed from Google.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
PII is a type of data that can be removed from Google search with a simple request. It includes:
- Your address
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your credit card number
- Your bank account number
- Your medical data
- Your signature
- Your login details for sites
- ID numbers (e.g., social security)
- List of relatives and other household members
- Pornographic images that have nothing to do with you but are associated with your name
- Deepfake pornography that identifies you
- Professional information (in some instances, e.g., risk of doxxing)
This fairly comprehensive list includes virtually all types of data you might want to be removed from the internet. However, some types of data might require extra effort to remove, even if you perceive them as “personal information.” The Reputation Management Company can help you understand the difference between the two.
Other Personal Information
Personal information that isn’t covered by Google’s policy on PII removal includes:
- Your name. Getting all traces of your name scrubbed from the internet is difficult. As long as it isn’t associated with any of the data listed above, your name can still be published and indexed by search engines.
- Compromising images. Google typically won’t remove compromising images simply because you ask it to. It’ll note that it doesn’t own the images, and you’ll need to get in touch with the website publishing the photos to have them de-indexed.
- Records of your activities. There’s no rule prohibiting others from publishing details of your activities online as far as Google is concerned. It doesn’t have the time or resources to investigate these on a case-by-case basis. If you think that a record of activities has identified you, you’ll need to go directly to the publisher to have this information removed.
If you’re unsure whether a search engine will remove your personal information from the internet, you need to speak to experts who can help you. The Reputation Management Company specializes in clarifying what can be removed from search results and devising strategies to help brands and individuals protect their reputations online.
What Information Can You Remove From Google Search?
The above list is fairly exhaustive. Almost anything that identifies you by publishing data can be scrubbed from Google. The most important things to have removed are your phone number, address, and workplace. This data type can be used coercively, and many feel deeply uncomfortable.
The Reputation Management Company understands that clients often wish to have information removed that can’t be treated simply by asking Google to take it down. Our professional team uses various techniques to address problems at the source (i.e., the website publishing the troublesome details) that don’t rely on Google’s policy for search removal.
How Do I Remove Myself from Search Results?
There’s no hard-and-fast way to delete your online presence. The internet is a blessing for brands looking to grow and expand, but it’s also a minefield and has created an “indelibility.” Your online history is almost always accessible to someone who searches in the right places using the right tools.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Information you’d rather keep private might get published, but this is largely the result of negligence and carelessness rather than malice. Likewise, people tend only to find damaging information on search results by accident – it takes a serious vendetta and a wealth of search-ready data to trawl your history in full.
The best strategy is to work with professionals who understand the complexities of data removal. The Reputation Management Company doesn’t stop at putting in requests to Google or even de-indexing pages containing your PII – the team will pursue every avenue to eradicate personal information, identifying threats and taking appropriate action wherever necessary.
What Personal Information Can’t Be Removed From Google Search Results?
The fundamental question that Google considers when moderating PII is, “are we putting an individual at risk by making this information public?” Even then, the onus is on the individual requesting that PII be taken down – the search giant won’t do it without prompting.
It sounds cold – it is cold. Google allows PII to be taken down mainly as an insurance policy. Suppose people started seeing Google as a place where you can find out anything about anyone without restrictions. In that case, it might cross that thin line between “scary but ultra-smart internet behemoth” and “toxic wasteland.” The company cares too much about its reputation (and potential legal repercussions) to allow that.
Information that doesn’t appear to put you at risk generally can’t be removed without approaching the publisher directly. For this, you’ll typically need expert input from the team at The Reputation Management Company.
How Do I Remove My Personal Information From the Internet for Free?
If the data you want to remove is covered by the provisions above, you can file a request with Google using this form. This is free and a great tool if you want to remove simple PII such as your social security number, login details, or bank details.
If the data you want to clear is published by a website and isn’t covered by the definitions above, you might need to contact the publisher directly. This can be difficult and time-consuming to achieve by yourself – the team at The Reputation Management Company can help you contact parties publishing your PII at an affordable price and ensure that they take this data down.
Removing Personal Information from Websites and Search Engines
Deleting personal information isn’t always up to Google. The search giant is putting more effort than it used to into letting individuals remove their data from the internet, but its capabilities are limited. Below are the main two strategies if Google can’t help you directly.
Requesting that a page be de-indexed means that Google won’t crawl it in the future. It won’t show up in search results as a consequence. This is one of the most basic strategies employed by The Reputation Management Company – still, it requires contacting the publisher.
Removing Personal Information from Websites Entirely
You can also request that a publisher delete the article and de-index it, which is the most comprehensive way to get your PII out of research results. This typically requires negotiations and explaining why the content is harmful – The Reputation Management Company can provide expert guidance in this area.
How the Reputation Management Company Can Remove Your Personal Information from Search Results
When you work with The Reputation Management Company to remove search results containing your PII, we’ll fully employ various strategies to protect your online reputation. Here’s how The Reputation Management Company does it.
Finding Your PII Online
Knowing where your PII has been published is a vital first step. This helps the team identify which parties need to be contacted (besides search engines) to ensure total removal.
Removing Google Search Results
The next step is getting Google to do everything possible to remove your PII. Besides filling in the generic form, the team will create a case showing why publishing your PII is harmful.
Removing Information from Other Websites
Contacting the websites publishing your PII is time-consuming and requires deft negotiations. This is difficult to achieve by yourself, which is why working with a team of experts is the best way to get your personal information removed from search results.
It’s always a last resort, but The Reputation Management Company won’t hesitate to instigate legal action if your PII is being published online without your consent. Get in touch to learn more.
Contact The Reputation Management Company to Remove Personally Identifiable Information Online
If your personal information is being published online without your consent, you need assistance from a team of reputable experts. The Reputation Management Company specializes in this type of data removal. Get in touch with our team to learn more.