Google Cares About You: 5 Tools That Are Your Best “Closed-Mouth” Friends
The Internet has become a vast landscape, and in our modern society, you cannot hide from it. Whether or not you realize it, your name and information are out there and searchable from many different sources. Just about everyone is publicly searchable, and something will come up for us all.
If you are like many American’s and have decided to step off the grid a bit, and you want to remove your name from search results, there are a few techniques you can take to do so.
Due to the sheer volume of information on the Internet, it may take a while for all servers to update and you will have to do a little homework, but it is entirely possible to remove yourself from Internet search engines completely.
Find Out Where You Show Up on the Internet
First, you will need to find all the places you have registered for accounts online so you can remove or deactivate them.
Knowem is a great tool that helps you locate yourself within over 550 popular websites. Using a username search criteria to link you to an account, you will then be armed with your homework. The service charges a small fee to find your accounts, but you will have to remove them or deactivate them yourself manually.
Managing Your Online Reputation Through Google
The next step in removing your name and information from searches is to do a few searches yourself to see what comes up for you. Thankfully Google makes it easy to do a people search and review the sources where certain information appears.
Once you have done that, you can create a Google Account and put in information that you do want searchable or remove the details you don’t want out there. Sometimes by adding in new information, it pushes old, outdated information to the bottom of Google search results.
If you do find pictures or information about yourself that you want to be erased, your next step will be to contact Google directly to ask them to remove this from their search engines.
You may also want to contact the website where the information shows up and email the webmaster directly, asking them to remove it from the site also.
You can also log into your Webmaster Tools section of Google to request removal of cached, outdated or erroneous URLs for sites that you own and manage.
Remove Yourself From Social Media
Nowadays, most of the references to you and information about you may come from social media posts, either your own or someone else who mentions you by name.
Go back through your records and deactivate or delete any and all social media accounts, even ones that you no longer use like MySpace, Tumblr, or Reddit. You might also have accounts with social offshoots from your regular shopping stores such as Amazon, Macy’s or the Gap.
Each of these services has a way to deactivate or completely remove your account. Merely changing the privacy settings will not remove you from all searches, you need to get rid of the accounts altogether.
There are also tools you can sign up for like AccountKiller that will determine the difficulty or ease of removing an account and give you specific tips on how to eradicate your information from those sites.
Remove Yourself From Data Collection Sites
There are services like DeleteMe or Abine.com that for a fee, will remove your name and information from sites like Spokeo, PeopleFinder, and Whitepages.com. They will first run an analysis to determine how prevalent your information is out there and from what websites it will need to be scrubbed.
Forget.me is another highly reputable service for Europeans that values the “right to be forgotten” and will help you remove your name and information from the Internet from a wide variety of sources. They remove all links, photos and posted content that appears on both Google and Bing searches.
You can try to contact the website directly to get yourself removed. However, it can be time-consuming, and you may run into roadblocks along the way. It is best to leave it up to the professionals if you want the job done thoroughly.
Remove Embarrassing, Outdated and Inaccurate Information
Even when webmasters update pages, often Google retains the old search information, and that is what might come up showing your name or information. This issue is called caching where a page has been saved in Google but does not exist, or there is a new, updated version of that page.
Thankfully, Google has a handy tool called the “Url Removal Tool” where you can enter a URL that shows outdated or inaccurate information and request that Google remove it immediately from search results.
The best way to keep yourself out of Google searches is by being proactive and very careful and selective about what you sign up for online and where you enter your information. Taking a few precautions now means not have to clean up your online reputation later.