Can Google lose my name?
November 23, 2017 5:19 AM   Subscribe

When I Google my name, there's a link right on the first page to an activity in my past that I wish would be forgotten forever. Short of asking Google to remove the page from its results, what can I do to bury the news to page 90 of the search engine?

When I Google my name, there's a link on the first page to an activity in my distant past (25 years ago) that I wish would be forgotten forever.

I'm nowhere near famous so it's not like people look me up on the Internet constantly. And it's nothing illegal so there's little on that page that could come back to harm me (think of a situation similar to one where someone was involved in a political party and latter switched allegiance and doesn't want the previous involvement to remain all that public).

Short of asking Google to remove the page from its results, what can I do to bury the news to page 90 of the search engine? I'm already on LinkedIn and Twitter (first results) and wouldn't mind raising my professional profile through other outlets so better search results appear. Finally, not interested in Facebook.
posted by Kwadeng to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you live in an EU country? There is a “right to be forgotten” case currently working its way through the court system, so you may have the right to request that Google delete it.
posted by Automocar at 5:26 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you live in the EU, you can request Google to remove information about you - but note that this does not mean that the content will be removed worldwide.

You can also ask Google in general to remove information but they are more restrictive in what they'll do outside the EU:

But broadly, you're asking about SEO. There are thousands of businesses devoted to this. First point: most searches (95%) stop at page one. If the info isn't there, people don't look further, so page 90 would be excessive. Page 2 is likely enough. This means there needs to be ten pieces of information more relevant to you in the first page of results for your name. You need to find sites that Google of which Google Search thinks highly and ensure that your name is found on these sites.

A personal domain ( likely won't manage this as people won't be linking to your new domain. Instead, look up other people you know and see what sites appear under their names. Make more Twitter accounts with your name. Flickr. Tumblr. YouTube. Spotify. Can you get your workplace to put up a page that has your info on it? Even if you don't like Facebook, get a blank page put up with your name. It doesn't have to have any information on it, but it will start to be indexed if you make it public.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 5:32 AM on November 23, 2017 [16 favorites]

One tip for finding places to get your name higher in results is to Google people in your field or with your interests and see which sites their names come up on that rank highly - professional directories, particular websites, etc. and then work to get your name on those.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:37 AM on November 23, 2017

The book “So You’ve Been Publically Shamed” has a chapter detailing how one of these companies managed to do this for one woman.
posted by FencingGal at 7:41 AM on November 23, 2017

This may or may not be useful, but a friend has recommended signing up for lots of little road races to clear up a google search because the posted race results quickly bump other pages.
posted by bighappyhairydog at 9:10 AM on November 23, 2017 [9 favorites]

As far as I know (not a wizard), if you have been extra interested in a particular search result (like you keep clicking that bad result to imagine how bad it'd be if a boss found it).... then Google will keep showing it to you. So your own repeated viewing of your Google search is different than another person's first-time viewing of your Google search. Check on a new-to-you machine (or ask a friend to send you screengrabs) to see if this is actually as big a problem as you think.

If you still need to bump that thing down, you can open Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wordpress, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Blogger, etc accounts, using your real name. IMDB is very high-ranking too, so make a profile if you've ever worked on a friend's short film. And if you're famous enough to merit a Wikipedia (if you've been published maybe?), consider linking some articles you wrote on relevant Wikipedia pages, too.

You don't have to use all these new profiles- just grab the usernames @DannyWong12345 or whatever, and make the bio "Danny Wong is on Twitter". You want your name- identical to the "bad" search result- to be the first 2 words in the new bio and in the new URL or handle. Those new results, on high-traffic sites, should boost higher in the search than whatever other thing you're concerned about.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, you should open a clean browser or use privacy/stealth modes to more accurately mirror what the general public will see if they google you.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:50 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

You say "short of asking Google to remove" the link, but do you also mean short of asking the link owner? Because that could be highly effective. I've done this when there was a community group newsletter popping up when you googled me; I explained the problem and nicely asked the community group to either block my name out of it or take it down, whichever was easier for them, and they gladly did.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yea for a while I had an image of myself appearing in google image search even after I convinced someone to take down the source material. I was able to get it out of the search results by reporting a broken link to google (which was accurate). Even if it's not illegal or shameful in any way, some of us enjoy our privacy.
posted by mammal at 10:18 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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