Q and A: How do I remove content from Google search results?

Question

Hi Kalena,

I receive your Newsletter updates and I always enjoy them.  I’m working on a medical website and the client was wondering what to do if someone puts up an inflammatory website about a specific doctor? Can we report a threatening and/or inflammatory website to Google? I’ve never run into this problem before.  Any ideas?

Thanks, Mitch.

Dear Mitch

One of the best (and worst) things about the internet is the fact that just about anyone can publish just about anything.  This offers a great opportunity to disseminate information, however, this can certainly be a problem if  the information is inaccurate or defamatory.

In your case, if the information is actually true (even if it is unflattering – or even nasty), there is probably not very much you can do.

If the published information is untrue, your first course of action should be to contact the site owner and ask them to modify or remove the information.  If they refuse or are unresponsive, you may need to seek legal action to “encourage” them to make changes.

Once the site has been updated, and recrawled by search spiders (which may take some time), the updated content should start appearing in search result listings.  Google has a long memory and sometimes old (deleted) content seems to persist in search results for a very long time.  It is possible for the site owner to request (via webmaster tools) for content to be removed from the Google Index – but once again you would need the site owners co-operation to do this.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, recently published a post about getting pages removed from Google, but as a general rule Google will not remove defamatory content unless it has a court order to do so (although this policy may vary depending on the country concerned).

The official Google documentation page on how to remove a page from Google’s search results provides more information.

Good Luck..

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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