As a SEM-consultant, people often ask me how to remove a page from Google. Usually, it’s people that share their name with a shady counterpart, businesses whose brand name is under social attack, victims of character assassination, companies that suffer from cheating competition, or anyone that wants to break with web pages from the past.

It’s important that such issues are addressed properly. Having your brand shown high in the results is good, but negative reviews up high are killing.

But check first: do these people have a real reason to complain? If so, fix that first. Make sure your company picks up on customer service, bad products or shoddy aftersales. Done? Then it’s time to get rid of those ill-favored web pages!

Is it hard to remove info from Google?

Let’s be straight: it’s not easy to remove a page from Google, or any other search engine. Google is not built to rank by truth, but by popularity. Although Google certainly takes trustworthiness into account, it’s algorithm can’t decide between truth and fraud. Besides, do we want Google to become the Truth Police? That’s too much 1984 for me, thank you!

Ask to remove a page from Google

In order to remove a page from Google, you’ll need to “help” Google decide, usually through Google’s removal tools or a court order. Here’s a list of the few actions you can take in order to remove a page from Google. Note that success always takes some time and it depends on the decision of a 3rd party:

  • Remove a page from Google through Google’s Removal Tools
  • Obtain a court order to have the site closed down, or remove a page from Google.
  • Ask the publisher to remove the page. Be diplomatic - prove them wrong - threat - bribe - it’s up to you! Be aware that the publishers might decide to write another negative article on you or your brand, increasing your problems. Especially publishers that are “fighting the good fight” (or at least think they do) can be very vocal online, and are apt to voice their opinions.
  • Ask the hosting party to remove the page or website, if it clearly violates the law.
  • Buy out the owners of the website, and redirect the valuable link juice to your own website.

As you understand, it is hard to remove a page from Google, and might take a lot of your valuable time (and perhaps money). Also, the offending pages are often picked up by other websites and scrapers (such as Archive.com). Removing one website won’t remove it from all the others, and your problem will still exist.

Remove a page from Google’s top rankings

Alternatively, you can make sure the concerning page is pushed down Google’s rankings. This won’t remove the page, but will make sure that it will be a lot less visible. You’ll need to beat that page SEO-wise, by ranking the webpages that YOU can control or influence!

There’s quite a few ways to push an unwanted page down in the rankings, but you’ll need to rely on SEO and social skills:

  • Go social and apply webcare. React on negative comments, engage in discussions, explain your actions, apologise, be humble and always, always, ALWAYS tell the truth!
  • Create a new website or blog with your (brand) name as URL. Optimize a strong page for your (brand) name, and make sure that it contains interesting and relevant content. Optimizing pages for “review <your (brand) name>” can also do a lot of good.
  • Create profiles with you or your brand name on social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing, Wikipedia, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, Del.Icio.Us, etc. Create profiles in various languages, too, if relevant. Integrate these social channels with your marketing mix (always good to have more exposure!) and watch them appear on the 1st page of search results.
  • Write new pages to your website(s). Use public relations if appropriate. Google LOVES new articles and finds it more relevant than old pages, thus pushing the older ones down the SERPs.
  • Don’t underestimate blended search! Google’s search results shows more than just web pages. The search results also show images, videos, places, reviews, etc. Make sure you claim those spaces as well.
  • Use detectable black hat SEO-techniques on the page or site you want to get rid of. Some SEO-specialists claim that the use of “illegal” SEO techniques such as link farming can harm a website’s ranking. I doubt that, as it would make it too easy for shady SEO practitioners to sabotage competitor’s websites. Still, I guess the vote is still out on this one.
  • As a last resort, you can even use search engine advertising (such as Google Adwords) to show on the targeted (brand) name. Shown on the top of the page, it will push down all search results and allow you to attract visitors to the website(s) of your choice.  TIP 1: Combine your brand name with keywords such as “review” or “experience”. This allows you to direct an interested audience to your testimonials, and away from any unwanted content. TIP 2: Make sure that you have registered your own brand name with Google, so the competition can’t advertise using your brand name.

A combination of the actions above should enable you to remove a page from Google. Or at least help to reduce the impact of those pesky pages. Still, you want to make sure it won’t happen again. If you haven’t done so already, use Google Alerts to keep track on new web pages that contain your (brand) name.

We wish you all the best removing those pages from Google, and good riddance to all spammy and fraudulent webpages!

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