Hide Me From Google

What If You Don't Want Google to Show Things About You?

When someone searches for you, then Google might display things that you rather weren't there. Therefore you might be excited by the recent European Union court ruling that has enshrined the "right to be forgotten". As a result, Google has launched a service to allow Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from its online search results.

Spend 1 minute assessing our understanding of how this might impact you and your business.

Even assuming that the new law remains as it is, then such requests are not guaranteed to have the desired effect:

  • It is only a request, and will be considered on its merits;
  • The actual content will not be removed; only Google's link to it, and;
  • It only applies to European Union versions of Google's search results, eg google.co.uk; you will still see them at google.com.

Finally, and this is just speculation on my part, it is conceivable that someone, somehow, will create an online listing of these de-listed results. Given that initial reports suggest that the majority of requests have come from convicted criminals, would you want to be explicitly grouped with those?

However, it does raise an interesting topic; what if there are unflattering results displayed when someone searches for your business? We are not necessarily talking about illegality. It could be out-of-date, misleading, or even wrong information on other websites. Perhaps customer reviews with which you disagree. Or incidental anecdotes that hide the official story. Whatever they are, things can be done about it.

You have the usual legal routes, although as well as the practicalities of time and money, you might have different and moving international legal jurisdictions to deal with as well. There is nothing to stop you approaching a website directly, but this may not be successful. The third option gives you back control. It is a service called online reputation management.

Online reputation management is a means of diluting the effectiveness of negative online stories. If such web pages have less prominence in the search engines, then fewer people will see them. It is a simple as that.

This is a targeted version of normal online marketing. Usually our role is to get our clients to the top, so that they are at the top. With online reputation management, our role is to get our clients to the top, so that the others (who are saying things you don't want readily found) are not at the top. It is a subtle yet important distinction. The primary driver is different, but the necessary skills and techniques are the same.

A traditional approach of flooding the web with press releases is unlikely to work, especially given Google's recent devaluing of such web pages.

As always, we would only accept an assignment if we genuinely felt that we could make a positive contribution. However, when it comes to online reputation management, we also reserve the right to turn down any project with which we were uncomfortable.

If you would like to discuss your online reputation management, in confidence, then please contact me.

Thank you for reading this email. I hope that everything is in order with your online reputation, but if not, at least you now know that you have options.

By Kenneth Mackay, 3rd June, 2013

This is one of a series of articles that deal with common issues when promoting your business online. We hope that you found it useful. Go to our online marketing tips to see previous pieces of advice. If there are any topics that you would like covered, please let us know.

If you need to promote your business online, then contact us.

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