Search engines can turn up hundreds of pages of results for a person or business. Web-based tools can locate negative business reviews, decades-old news articles, adult content, and other unwanted material you may have not known was even posted to the internet
That routine traffic stop that happened during college could be showing up on a police blotter website. Your physical address may be displayed on a data broker site. There is so much information available via search engines that it is enough to give the average person an anxiety attack.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience removing damaging and defamatory internet content, and know exactly what you should Google to effectively find negative this unwanted content:
- Google your full name;
- Use titles and suffixes;
- Search your location;
- Think like a defamer;
- Use different search engines;
- Use search modifiers;
- Find related websites;
- Utilize search result time restraints;
- Conduct a reverse image search;
- Use incognito search;
- Utilize Google’s built-in filters;
- Google your phone number.
Below, we will walk you through 12 tips to finding negative search results and how to locate all information about you that is floating around the internet.
12 Tips to Google Yourself to Find Negative Search Results
Googling yourself is not only acceptable behavior but something that is absolutely required for having and maintaining a career or a personal life in the digital age. It is not your vanity that is at stake. It is your online reputation and your personal brand.
Studies have shown that roughly 40% of people research a potential suitor before moving forward with a date. Furthermore, approximately 80% of employers conduct online investigations into candidates for a job before scheduling an interview. If your future partner or potential employer are going to know about it, then you have no choice but to learn yourself.
Of course, most people Google themselves, even if they don’t admit it. A little over half of millennials and just under half of Generation Xers have Googled themselves, according to one survey. And among members of Generation A, one in 10 members Google themselves every day.
The results though are what matters, and reinforce why you should Google yourself. One in five people find outdated or inaccurate online information. One in three find information that was influenced by someone with the same name.
You may have tried Googling your name and found pretty standard personal information like your social media profiles and posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But chance are you may not have searched thoroughly enough. The internet is a vast information flea market where facts, innuendo and outright slander exist side by side. Its important to search thoroughly and deep.
Tip 1: Google Your Full Name
Googling your full name, including nicknames, maiden names, previous names, or your business’s registered name, is a great first step toward locating defamatory negative content such as false online reports, fake Google reviews, and malicious comments. Do not limit the search to your first and last names.
Think of all possible names by which you or your business may be known. Make sure to include your middle name, shortened business names, any common misspellings or personal monikers. If you are a married woman, past friends and acquaintances might only know you by your maiden name.
Make sure to Google the previous, current and hyphenated versions of your surname or surnames. This type of Google search will serve as the foundation for a thorough investigation of your online presence.
Online Reputation Management & Monitoring Tip: We recommend creating a free Google Alerts account to monitor your online reputation and the internet for specific keywords. Simply enter your name and the target keywords you want to monitor, how often you want to receive notifications, and create a Google Alert. You will then receive a Google Alert anytime your inputted keywords are mentioned anywhere online.
Tip 2: Use Titles & Suffixes
Including professional titles in your search query is especially important for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and professors. This helps to unearth potentially business-ruining anonymous reviews on platforms like Vitals, Rate My Professors, Yelp, and Avvo.
For example, if you are a lawyer who has recently married and you took your spouse’s last name, try searching: “full name + ESQ (professional title for attorneys),” or “maiden name + ESQ.” You may have nasty comments written about you on a competitor’s review page and you would not even know it.
If you are a man and were named after your ancestors, adding a suffix could be beneficial, particularly if you are known that way in your professional life. Searching for “Robert Griffin III” might yield more specific results than just “Robert Griffin”, especially if you live in a highly populated area.
Tip 3: Search For Your Location
Speaking of highly-populated areas, including your location can be one of the most valuable tools in assisting in your hunt. Many different consumer reviews, national news publications, mug shot, gossip blog, and cheater shaming websites typically sort posts and reports by categories, location being one of the most popular.
But these sites generally do not follow one uniform pattern for how they write cities and states, so remember to include both short and longhand versions of your location. Also, avoid using acronyms such as L.A. for Los Angeles, N.Y.C. for New York City, and M.I.A. for Miami, etc.
For example, if your name is John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt and you are from Los Angeles, California, consider searching “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt + Los Angeles California,” “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt + Los Angeles,” or “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt + California.”
Tip 4: Think Like a Defamer
Although it may be a hard thing to do, putting yourself in the shoes of a defamer or someone else who wants to do you harm is essential if you want to find all of the dirt online. Entering specific keywords will help you discover defamation and hidden content previously not turned up in a basic search.
If you suspect you have been posted about by a vengeful former lover, former spouse, or even a disgruntled ex-employee, consider searching with some popular expressions and phrases that an online critic would use.
Listed below are several commonly used derogatory terms found in defamatory posts. These words can be used in conjunction with search modifiers.
- Rip off
Tip 5: Use Different Search Engines
Sometimes false and defamatory posts and web-pages may show up in one search engine’s results and not in another’s. To give yourself the best chance of locating ALL unwanted content on the internet, conduct searches across as many internet search engines as possible.
While Google facilitates nearly 75% of all search engine queries across the globe (roughly 3.5 billion per day), it is not the only search engine you should concern yourself with. There are several other popular search engines which have captured anywhere from 1-10% of the global search engine market. Several alternative popular search engines to Google include:
What is more, several of these search engines enjoy sizable market shares in certain geographical regions. For example, Bing claims just over a 33% market share in the United States, a stark contrast to its 9% global market share.
Tip 6: Use Search Modifiers
Google’s search algorithm is exceptionally proficient at locating information that you are looking for – even when you are not entirely sure what it is you are looking for. But what if you have a pretty clear idea of what you want to see?
Try out the following refiners to improve your search efforts.
Exclude Terms With a (-) Minus Symbol
To find pages without a particular search term, put a (-) sign operator in front of the word in your query. Note that there should not be a space between the minus sign and the word.
This method would work well for those that are trying to wade through any filler search results such as social media platforms or unrelated topics.
Search Query Example: Dayra Lomba-Minc-Law OR Dayra Lomba–LinkedIn.
Search Within a Single Website
To find results from a specific website, use the site: shortcut followed by the site URL you wish to locate. Keep in mind that you must enter the entire site domain in your query. Note the missing “.com” at the end of the incorrect search query.
Search Query Example: Dr. Ross Geller site:Healthgrades.com NOT Dr. Ross Geller site:Healthgrades
Using “In” Or “All” Searches
You can use the following manipulators to search for exact words in either a title, URL or text. This is very handy if you can only recall certain details of a post or if you are hearing about it from a third-party.
Search Query Example: Searching intitle:, inurl:, and intext: will hone the search criteria to bring you relevant results as will searching allintitle:, allinurl: or allintext.
Tip 7: Find Related & Linked Websites
A useful method of employing Google’s shortcuts is to find related websites and links to bring them to the forefront of your search. The internet is such a vast place that it will be nearly impossible to find every single website related to a certain topic. However, related websites generally employ the same SEO tactics to become prominent in their area of expertise and gain more views.
Say you found an alert for an old arrest on MyLife.com and are wondering how many other knowledge databases could be hosting the same information. You can find similar websites if you type in related:mylife.com. Using this, you will find links to data broker sites such as Spokeo, PeopleFinder, BeenVerified, WhitePages, and more. From there you can inquire about their opt-out policies to help clean up your digital footprint.
Another effective method of locating unfavorable information, such as outdated news articles, is to find every page hosting a certain link.
Say a news article was written by a big-time publication like The Miami Herald and many smaller news stations and blogs picked up the story as well. How is it possible to know how many others are hosting this link? Using link:miamiherald.com can help you track down all web pages that link back to the original Miami Herald article.
Keep in mind this modification will only return pages with an exact URL so if there is more than one article, you will need to do multiple searches.
Tip 8: Set Search Result Time Restraints
Perhaps you have already removed negative internet content from the past, and now want to keep tabs on any new mentions. Setting Google search time restraints will help narrow the search to only the latest news within a specific time frame.
By setting Google search result time restraints, you can monitor Google results for content that was published within the past hour, day, week, month, or year. You can even search for things within a specific time period using the custom date range filter.
Tip 9: Conduct a Reverse Image Search
It is not uncommon for fake online attacks to be accompanied by a photograph, video, or other media. Conducting a reverse image search on Google is an extremely effective way to locate websites or platforms where a picture is posted.
For example, maybe you have found a professional headshot of yourself accompanying an intimate report on an infidelity website. Dragging and dropping that image into Google Images can yield other websites where that photograph is posted, along with related images (images that look similar).
To conduct a Google reverse image search on a desktop:
- Upload the picture in question to Google Images;
- Drag and drop that image in Google Images; or
- Search Google Images with the URL.
Tip 10: Use Incognito Search
Incognito mode, alternatively known as private browsing, is a setting within your internet browser that prevents the storage of information such as your browsing history, cookies and site data, and information entered into forms (like your name that you have been searching for).
Searching in this mode enables you to view Google search results and web pages without having Google drive up the results to the top of your page. This is extraordinarily useful for people who have found themselves to be the subject of several news articles or people who are just doing a bit of digging into themselves before job hunting.
Tip 11: Utilize Google’s Built-In Filters
Google’s built-in filters are fantastic tools for finding out different types of content that could be referencing you on the internet. Google’s default mode is the “all” filter which (obviously) shows everything in a text format.
Generally, people do not go past the first five or even ten pages of someone’s results on Google especially if the content gets repetitive. So they may opt to use the different filters that are available. These include images, news, videos, books, maps and shopping.
The “images” filter is particularly skilled at finding adult content on the web as porn videos tend to have the same title card. Many prospective first dates or hiring managers are interested in finding out what you would look like, so it is extremely important to check and see what images are popping up in your results.
Tip 12: Google Your Phone Number
Not a lot of people are aware of it, but Googling your phone number can yield some very interesting results since these numbers are assigned to only one person at a time. Not only will telephone number Googling link you to many different data broker sites but it can also lead you sometimes discoverying some very harmful information on predator and shaming websites.
Some sites, like PredatorAlerts.co and PredatorsAlert.com, are only found using someone’s phone number. These sites contain sensitive content about people like explicit photos, full names, addresses and more. People who have registered accounts with “hook up” apps such as Tinder, Hinge, and Seeking Arrangements have frequently found themselves the victims of these kinds of posts.
Minc Law Can Help Remove Negative Internet Content
Identifying negative and malicious content on the internet is just the first step towards protecting your online reputation and personal brand. Removing negative content in a timely manner is critical.
If you have located defamatory and negative content about you in Google’s search results and want to remove it as soon as possible, reach out to the content removal attorneys of Minc Law today.
Ali Arko gets great results. She is persistent and will get the job done for you. She had a newspaper article removed after an ex employee made inappropriate allegations about me to the newspaper. The newspaper did not check any of the facts of the case. The newspaper went through 3 different editors, and Ali was able to talk to two of them and was able to get the false article removed. The google search of my name was hurting my business. Thank you Ali for your great work. I highly recommend her.
A. T., Dec 9, 2019
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