Article by Pierre Zarokian.
As a provider of online reputation management services, we often get inquiries about removing negative content and reviews from Google. Often our prospects cannot afford our services because all options for removing content from Google are time consuming and hence expensive. Most often content cannot be removed, but you can push them down the search results so they are less visible.
Here we would provide you some more details on all possible ways of doing post removals on Google.
- If your picture or some content that you own appears on the post that you own the copyright to, you may be able to file for a copyright removal or DMCA removal. Often times the site owners may only remove the copyrighted content, such as the image, so hence we recommend to send the request to Google first, because Google may remove the complete post from the search results, but if the image is gone, then Google would not remove the post.Via Google’s DMCA form you can also request removal of certain other content such as personal information. For example, if the site has your social security number or unpublished home address, you might be able to use their form to get it removed.
- Try contacting the site that has your content. It is rare that the site owners would just remove, but you never know. Always talk to them nicely and maybe even beg, but if you do not talk to them nicely they would never remove. The site thedirty.com is even known to post removal requests of those that have pissed them off, which makes the situation even worst. Some sites may request a fee for removal. Even tough this sounds like extortion or unethical, there are currently no laws in the USA that make this illegal. It is up to you if you would want to do this. If the post is really bad and effecting your reputation or life negatively, you may not have any other choice but to do this, as this could be the quickest way.Some sites like Yelp offer flagging or reporting and would remove certain content that is against their guidelines.
- Some sites allow the poster to remove content, including Yelp. If this is an option and you know who posted the info, then try to reach out to the poster to settle the issue and ask them to remove. If that does not work you may want to hire an attorney and send them a cease & desist letter.
- One of the most expensive ways of removal is legal action. You can never sue the website for posting the content, because they are protected by Communication Decency Act Section 230, which basically protects 3rd party sites and forums from liability on what others may post. The only you can sue a site itself is if the site owners themselves have posted something about you that is negative and not a 3rd party.
The better way of legal action is to sue the poster and if you win you can get a court ordered removal, which then you present to the site and the search engines and hope that they would honor them. Sometimes they don’t! The sites themselves will often not honor and Google has been known to deny some court ordered removals for various reasons.If you don’t know who posted it, then you need to file a “John Doe” lawsuit and show an attempt that you tried to find who posted it. This is a longer conversation to go into the details in this post, so you should check with a reputation management attorney on details or you can call us and we can explain over the phone.
- Hire a reputation management firm (like us) to help you. Often times, firms like us have dealt with many complaint type websites and may know of ways to get things removed quickly.
- Finally, if none of the above work for you, you can still try to push down the negative content by building up more positive content such as websites, blog posts and social media profiles and the SEO them to get them ranked higher than the negative. Our sister company, iClimber also offers social media profile creation service.