Proof Of The Harm Caused Directly By Google's Search Results
As this post from The Daily Beast demonstrates, Google is creating problems for everyone, not just you. In this case, because it involves a powerful entity, the MTA, and because this is an embarrassment for Google, the problem has a very good chance of being fixed pretty quickly. But as for that search result that's creating a headache for you, not so much.
Take a moment to think about what's going on here. Google is creating a false association that is misleading and potentially very harmful. Mistakes happen, but the real problem is that when this happens to an individual, Google is unlikely to acknowledge the harm or do anything to make it right. And it's impossible to delete search results. Ask anyone who's tried to delete Google results without using a valid legal argument.
Remove Google Search Results
Google's motto to not be evil now appears quaint. It used $ from a monopoly on the search to fund aggressive acquisitions enabling it to dominate multiple markets in addition to the search space. It is not responsive to the concerns of citizens and has clearly amassed too much power.
Like other industries before - oil, railroads, telephone - all saw individual companies gaining monopolistic advantages and all eventually had to be regulated in order to enforce fairness for competitors and customers. But Google's monopoly affords it out-sized lobbying influence over the governmental agencies that should be regulating its behavior, especially on issues of privacy. The EU requires Google to remove personal information appearing in their search results upon request. But in the US, if Google creates a similar problem for you, there's not really a mechanism to remove those search results unless a compelling legal argument is won.
Yet Google's search results can do great damage because of the associations made in those results. Because there's no traditional avenue to remove search results that are harmful, nontraditional services like imfy.us offer ethical and legal search results removal for a fee.
When Google Results Are Harmful
Doing a Google search for a name or business is an automatic response when a new person or company enters the conversation. This convenience empowers employers, customers, and partners to blacklist those whose search results reveal associations with negative information.
Negative results showing up on Google's page 1 are devastating to the trust you seek to build, and you'll never know how many were turned off enough to rule you out.
It could be a nasty product review, an unpleasant news item, a DUI arrest, release of personal information, a legal notice, a harmful social media post, etc.
Unless compelled by law Google will not delete a problem search result.
But that's no reason to just sit back and take it. There are remedies to your problem. This post will walk you through some of the ideas you may be able to use to mitigate the harm coming from Google's search results.
Make An Effort To Contact The Writer/Publisher
While Google may be a dead end, their search results are the consequence of content created and published on websites that may be accessible to their readership. If you're seeing a bad search result, make an effort to contact the publisher and/or the writer. Visit the page and search for an email address, by-line link, contact form, phone numbers, and try to connect, even if just to get more information. Don't come across angry - this does not work! Keep in mind that the publisher probably has no idea of the problem Google is creating for you, but may be sympathetic to your story. Offer to pay the cost of the edit or revisions. If the post has a comment section, register and make your plea in a comment - this is much more likely to be read than a randomly sent message.
While Google may not be responsive, there are people in the Google forums who may offer help. Do a search to check them out.Reach out to the writer. Writers often post their email in their by-line. Keep in mind that the writer is not your enemy. You are creating a hassle for this person just by reaching out, and in addition you're asking for a favor, so be sensitive and aware that the writer may not be controlling the content. If there's a comment section, post a carefully worded message that presents your issue as broadly as possible and request that rules to prevent harm to others are enforced. A comment is very likely to be read by the writer, who may open a dialogue with you.
And the publisher. Fill out the form on the contact us link. The issues created for you by the problem content may be significant enough to warrant a legal review. Sometimes the best argument for removal may be made by your legal team.
Other Ways To Remove Results From Google
There are several other avenues you can take to convince the original publisher or creator of the content to address your issue.
Social media: When the offending post is on a social media platform, approach the forum moderator, the owner of the platform, or better still the audience being reached by the platform. The larger the audience, the more effective a compelling argument can be since the poster can be held to account publicly. A post that is racist, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate should be exposed as such. If the argument is credible, removal may be the simplest way to avoid an unnecessary controversy for the writer. Gentle, persistent and credible pressure often works.
Political: If you are able to rally a considerable constituency to back up your request, the strength of your request is greatly enhanced. Political pressure of any kind is effective because it can be the equivalent of a public shaming. But getting there requires a lot of work, even when you have a good case. Building a successful network of backers requires a rallying point - a good argument that others readily agree with, as well as the time and effort to reach out one by one to make your case. Getting a signed petition in front of the publisher might get their attention.
Legal: Content that is defamatory, libelous, or revealing legally protected information is cause for a legal action. If your lawyer can argue that the publishing of the content harms you financially or exposes you to injury in any way the demand for removal can be substantive. It makes for a powerful argument, but you definitely need legal expertise to play this game.
Professional: When all else fails, shell out the bucks and go with a pro. Worldwide, this search result problem is so commonplace that there is an industry that has been formed to address the need. It's called online reputation management, and there are many players. Most of the larger entities offer a suite of services that include review management, monitoring online mentions, content with positive spin, improve star ratings, etc. But by far and away the most requested service is removal of Google search results. This fact motivated imfy.us to specialize in only this service and they have developed technical advantages in the arcane skill sets needed to successfully manipulate Google's results. At last there's a way to counter the bad karma coming from world's leading search engine.
What The Pros Do
None of the professionals offering removal services actually removes the harmful page 1 search result by deleting anything. They all use search engine optimization to advantage the ranks of other, harmless pages, to outrank the problem, pushing it down and off page 1. Some services build new content pages they control since they are easier to optimize but that may be unnecessary. Your page on facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other social media platforms often appear near the top of the search for your name. So create these accounts if you don't already have them. Very often these pages already exist in the results. If they do, they can be optimized.
The secret weapon behind removal efforts that most pros don't reveal is the ability to point links from a diverse set of ips. Because Google sees links from other sites as a "vote" for the content, pointing links to a site raises its rank profile. According to the developers at imfy.us, the quality of those links is what makes the difference both in the time it takes to remove a result as well as the ability of the removal to persist over time. Removals can slip back onto page 1 if the links are weak or compromised, or if Google assigns them less authority after they get posted.
Learn More From Google
Here are some resources that can help you understand some ways to address a harmful search result.
More On Regulating Google
Many of these links below consider regulating Google to mean regulating its management and storage of data, not the content that gets revealed in problem search results. But keep in mind that when it comes to Google's search, content is data and the huge majority of that content is not owned by Google. Google exploits other people's content to create a list of search results within which it then sells advertising. But using and ranking content they do not control creates an even greater responsibility to quickly address any harm created by their search results, because content may be false or misleading, and because we know that search results, like content, can be manipulated.
Facebook and Google Must Be Regulated Now : theamericanconservative.com
Can the government regulate Google search results? Lawyers weigh in : abajournal.com
It’s time for tighter regulation of how Facebook and Google use our data : theguardian.com
Should government regulate Google? : iwf.org
It’s Time to Finally Regulate Google : potomacinstitute.org
Addressing Facebook and Google’s Harms... : economicliberties.us
In The EU Google Is Held To Account:
Google receives 2.4m requests to delete search results : irishtimes.com
Google must delete your data if you ask, EU rules : telegraph.co.uk
Right to be forgotten : en.wikipedia.org