Google Won’t Remove Pages About You

Matt Cutts Explains Why You're Out of Luck

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If you’ve been involved with the web for any significant amount of time, there is a good chance  there may be pages up somewhere that you’re not thrilled about, but are out of your power to remove. Whether it is a page you made in high school or somebody else talking smack about you, you’re concerned about your online reputation (as you should be) and would like to see the page removed from Google’s index altogether.

Unfortunately, Google cannot be held responsible for this because as they say on the official help page for "How do I remove content from Google Search Results?" they do not own the Internet. The company says, "In order for information within Google search results to change, the information must first change on the website where it appears."

Matt Cutts Blog

Google’s Matt Cutts posted about this on his own blog after receiving countless emails from people making such requests. He was kind enough to share his response to these emails, which usually goes something like this:

Unfortunately there’s not much I can do. The page you pointed out is not spam, and pretty much the only removals (at least in the U.S., which is what I know about) that we do for legal reasons are if a court orders us. We typically say that if person A doesn’t like a webpage B, only removing page B out of Google’s search results doesn’t do any good because webpage B is still there (e.g. it can be found by going to it directly or through other search engines). In that sense, the presence of that page in Google’s index is just reflecting the fact that the page exists on the wider web.

The best actions for you from our perspective can be one of a couple options. Either contact whoever put up webpage B and convince them to modify or to take the page down. Or if the page is doing something against the law, get a court to agree with you and force webpage B to be removed or changed. We really don’t want to be taking sides in a he-said/she-said dispute, so that’s why we typically say “Get the page fixed, changed, or removed on the web and then Google will update our index with those changes the next time that we crawl that page.” Our policies outside the U.S. might be different; I’m not as familiar with how legal stuff works outside the U.S.

This is pretty much the same thing you get from the official page. "If you can’t get the webmaster to do anything, we’re really sorry, but our hands are tied without action from the webmaster," is the position stated there. Though Google uses the opportunity to suggest reporting social security or credit card information in results, adult content in results when SafeSearch is on, defamatory content in results, and inappropriate images in video results. So if the content you’re trying to get removed falls into any of these categories, there might still be hope for you.

Once people understand that Google can’t take responsibility for listings they don’t like, they seem (for the most part) to accept the explanation. It’s the understanding in the first place that is often lacking. Hopefully Matt’s comments will set the record straight.

Ultimately this leaves you no choice but to amp up your reputation management efforts. Go to the root of the problem. Make nice with people if you have to. It won’t always work, but just like with the rest of life, sometimes you have to live with past mistakes and acceptance that someone might not like you.

>>> Should Google remove pages upon request?

… Discuss what Google should or should not be doing with other WebProNews readers below…


Google Won’t Remove Pages About You
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  • Fed UP!

    All I ask is that Google stops producing derogatory search results that were removed from the webpage 2 months ago. They are the ONLY search engine still producing these derogatory search results. I have sent in numerous removal requests through the “removal tool” which were removed. But, today, I typed in the query data and the same results appeared under the “Omitted Search Results” option. So, what is the point of removing the results? It’s sad that the most widely used search engine is also the most out of date with it’s search results. The effects of the negligence can be widespread and far-reaching.

  • T-mac

    I had a biz 5 years ago and some lady that was crazy posted hundreds of spam , lies about my site and biz that werent true. ON yelp and on google maps. Google maps is the worst , they will never take anything down it is scary.
    lady was threatening me, family etc..
    Google said take her to court. i have better things to do then go to court.
    Yahoo took em off quick
    yahoo is the best.
    But damn someone messes with you on google maps, its lights out your screwed . so stupid.
    if they dont want to police the pages, fine but let the biz owners either say a rebuttal or add something in defense, yelp sucks big time.

  • http://rankmysitebetter.wordpress.com David

    Interesting discussion indeed, but Google, or any search engine, isn’t publishing what they find, they find what has already been published. For all of Google’s resources, I don’t think even they could determine true statements from libelous ones. Leaving it in the hands of a court to decide is probably the most appropriate way to handle grievances – but then to respond immediately for sure.

    This way, Google can optimize their search engine results in response to a person’s search, whatever the content.

  • http://www.straightalk.biz STRAIGHTALK

    ok so U have pissed someone off or U have a bully on Ur case..

    Well my wishes too U, I’ve learned to do as I will like others do unto Me.. So I really never had this problem yet… and hope never to have such an issue..

    We live by what We do..

    Norman Flecha

    • Sponsored

      so you are lucky that is all.

      your insinuation that we must have done something to deserve to be attacked on the internet is ridiculous. true in some cases maybe.

      there is such a thing as a victim. people are victims every day thru no fault of their own. count yourself as lucky and pray you continue to be.

  • Scott

    Google says they do not own the data and they aren’t the publishers of the data? Are they really that dumb to think this?!

    Google is an independent site, granted it didn’t actually write the content within its site, BUT it IS a publisher of this information since the data it publishes is held in its own database, it is second hand data! It crawls sites, takes data and places it into its search engine database… google you are now a publisher! Go back to school would you!

  • Sponsored

    I do not agree with Google. There is something about me on the internet that is heinous, horrible, abominable and completely untrue. It is so hurtful. If you enter my name on google this horrible nightmare stuff comes up with my family pictures, pictures of my little boys, etc. Any normal person looking at it would agree it is terrible and tragic what has been done to me.

    Google could easily take it down but will not. They hide behind their policy that the website of origin must take it down. This will never happen however as the site or origin is anarchy based and the site’s reason for existence is to attack, maim, smear, hurt, etc. A visitor to their site posted this stuff about me on the site. I have asked them to take it down and they will not. I wrote them a letter asking them to take it down and to my horror, they also placed my letter on the internet.

    Shame on google for not realizing there are cases upon which they should act.

    Sincerely, Link

  • Guest

    I can understand why Google wouldn’t want to get into a “truth police” position. Or allow people to “pick and choose” what shows up about them in their search engines.

    HOWEVER, I also think they need to respect privacy. If somebody wants to “opt out” completely of their search engine, they should allow them to do so. Similar to a “do not call” phone list.

    I’m a vocational rehab counselor, who had a former client go on an internet smear campaign years ago. Even now, it’s the main result when a person googles my name. I can’t do anything about it at all. I can’t write a rebuttal. I can’t even acknowledge I know him, as this would violate HIS privacy. Even without that obstacle, I can’t sue him or the website (Sec 230 of the CDA). It’s a complete legal loophole. I’m sure Google just hopes people will learn to adjust, but I honestly don’t think that will happen.

  • http://www.babypushchairsonline.co.uk Baby Pushchairs

    I think it is just fair for Google to remain in neutral ground. Although it is a tough pill to swallow sometimes, it does make sense for the affected party to contact the webmaster to remove the content at that level. Otherwise there would be no ending to the amount of requests for removal of content through out the web if Google start accepting such requests. Your online reputation should not be the responsibility of the search engines.

  • http://www.mypartyplanner.com/ Party

    I don’t believe that this is fair, but at the same time, there is no credible way to prove that you are you, and Google loves to keep as many pages in the index as possible :)

  • http://completepersonaldevelopment.com Personal development|Self Help

    This is a really hard subject!
    Defamation in any form can be totally devastating both personally and financially!
    Google has so many resources available they should at least be policing them selves!
    I wonder how people affected would go in suing Google itself for defamation for allowing these sorts of things to be shown on their search engine!
    I prefer to conduct myself in such a way that no-one ever has reason to publish anything derogatory about me and if they do anyway – I hope Karma kicks their butts for it!
    Kymmy :)

  • http://www.dulyon.com/ Loose Gemstones

    Hard to believe that Google cannot find some sort of verification system that protects the user better.

  • http://www.ascentent.com Ent Services

    It just works like the Internet Time Machine where they index all the files. So it’s tough luck then.

  • http://www.sulubancliffbali.com Luxury Bali Villas

    Thanks for the warning. It’s about time people stop posting rubbish as it would be indexed.

  • http://www.internet-empire.com Seo Singapore

    Those guys who like to post defamation articles have to beware because there’s no turning back for this one.

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