Negative search results—especially on Google, which is used for 93% of all internet searches—can be devastating for individuals and businesses. They can affect personal relationships, professional opportunities, and business performance. In today’s digital environment, knowing how to improve Google Search results for your name is crucial.
To begin improving search results for your name on Google, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Create positive online content,
- Claim and take control of all online accounts and profiles,
- Create a people card in Google,
- Participate in interviews and public relations activities,
- Opt out of data broker websites,
- Send an editorial request to news publications posting stories about you,
- Request a website update or remove harmful content,
- Request de-indexing of harmful content for Terms of Service (ToS) violations,
- Take legal action to remove defamatory content, and
- Utilize suppression strategies and online reputation management services.
At Minc Law, we have helped thousands of individuals and businesses remove damaging content from Google and other search engines. Our experience spans internet defamation, content removal, and online reputation management. We know understand the ins and outs of navigating social media and search engine reporting procedures, obtaining court orders to compel the removal of content, and monitoring the internet to identify and remove negative online content in real time.
In this article, we explain why you may want to improve your Google Search results and how to audit your digital footprint. Then, we provide actionable strategies for fortifying your online reputation by improving Google Search results for your name.
Why You Want to Have a Positive Online Reputation
Google processes over 8.5 billion searches per day, with 84% of searchers using Google at least three times daily. It is safe to assume that everyone is Googling you.
Before a potential customer decides to buy from your business, they check your rating on Google reviews. Potential employers conduct Google searches for your name as part of a background check process before hiring you. Even new acquaintances and romantic partners will likely Google your name at the beginning of a relationship.
And since more than 9 in 10 Google users never look past the first page of search results, it is crucial for the top results to present a positive image. Below, we explore three ways a positive online reputation can impact your life.
Career Advancement & Professional Opportunities
A positive online reputation can open many doors. When people believe you are already well-liked, they are more inclined to like you themselves.
Professionally, it is much easier to find new jobs, receive promotions, and network with industry peers when you have a positive reputation. Because professionals want to help and associate with those with good reputations, you can advance in your career more easily.
Business Growth, Trust, & Longevity
Your personal and business reputation both play a part in your business’s success. A good reputation not only increases the number but the quality of customers you attract.
Consumers are more likely to do business with brands with a positive public perception—and they are also more disposed to become loyal customers.
Brand reputation affects more than just customers; a strong reputation also helps you recruit high-quality talent and secure investor funding. On the other hand, a poor reputation makes it difficult to compete, innovate, and thrive in the marketplace.
For further reading, please see our article explaining ‘Why a Positive Reputation is Important in Business’.
Success in Personal Relationships
Google Search results can also affect your personal life. When you make new friends or start dating someone new, these individuals will likely Google you. The first page of Google Search results for your name can shape a new acquaintance’s first impression of you—for better or worse.
Your online search results provide insight into your interests, values, and background. Perhaps your search results show that you have a successful career and are involved in charitable causes. A casual searcher would see that you are a driven and caring person.
On the other hand, if a Google search of your name reveals distasteful social media posts and questionable news articles about you, potential acquaintances will want to distance themselves from you.
How to Identify Search Results For Your Name in Google
Knowing how to Google yourself is crucial for maintaining a successful personal and professional life. Learning how to monitor your reputation and push down negative search results helps keep the online information about you updated and accurate.
In this section, we list four effective strategies for tracking your online reputation.
Start by conducting a Google Search for your full name. It is also a good idea to search any nicknames, previous names (including maiden names), and your business’s name. Consider all possible spellings (and misspellings) of your search terms.
Include your job title or location (e.g., “Jane Doe Cleveland”) to help narrow down the search results even further. And to search for an exact phrase, try using quotation marks.
These searches help reveal any defamatory or damaging content about you, like hostile social media comments or fake Google reviews of your business. You may also want to search for yourself on other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo. Different search engines can render different results for the same search terms.
Use Search Modifiers
Google’s search algorithm is a powerful tool for locating specific information. But if you know what you are looking for, you can use search modifiers to narrow down your search results. For example:
- Use a minus sign (-) before a word in your query to exclude it. For example: “Jane Doe -Texas”
- Use “site:[website URL]” to search within a single website. For example: “site:Healthgrades.com Dr. Ross Geller”
- Use “intitle:”, “intext:” and “inurl:” to search for exact terms in a title, text, or URL. For example: “intext: Acme Diner bad service”
Utilize Google’s Built-in Filters
Google’s built-in filters let you see specific types of content matching certain keywords. While the default filter (“all”) shows text results, other filters include news, videos, maps, books, and images.
If you are a victim of revenge porn, for instance, you can use the “images” filter to find videos and images tagged with your name.
Find Related Links & Websites
Google’s “related:” and “link:” search shortcuts let you find related and linked websites, respectively. For example, you can search “related:peoplefinder.com” to find similar sites like My Life, Spokeo, and BeenVerified.
You can also use “link:originalsource.com” to find all web pages linked to the original source. This method only uncovers pages with the exact URL match, so you may need to run multiple searches for various articles.
Finding related and linked websites gives you a holistic view of your digital footprint and a starting point for removing unwanted content about you.
How to Improve Google Search Results for Your Name
To bolster your online footprint effectively, you must employ a combination of offensive and defensive strategies. Below, we list ten proven techniques for taking charge of your online presence and fighting back against damaging online content.
Create Positive Online Content
Creating content that you can control—and sharing positive content about you—is a very straightforward and simple strategy to improve search results for your name or chosen keyword. Regularly creating constructive content also helps counteract any negative posts about you online.
Start by purchasing your domain name from a domain provider like WordPress, GoDaddy, or Google Domains. If possible, buy as many variations on your name as possible (i.e., Janedoe.com, Janedoe.net, and Janedoe.org, etc.).
While building your website, optimize it for your name and other chosen keywords. Google’s indexing tool takes keyword density into account when ranking websites, so use your name organically across your site.
Then, increase your site’s credibility (and ranking) by adding backlinks from other sources. Link to your website from all of your social media accounts, and take advantage of opportunities to have authoritative websites link to your website. Obtaining backlinks creates a spider web of authority signaling to Google to prioritize your content ahead of less trustworthy sources.
If you are not ready to set up and manage a website, you may want to use Medium instead. Medium is a free and open publishing platform that also ranks in SERPs. By writing regular blog posts on Medium, you save yourself the trouble of managing a website while still creating authoritative online content under your name.
Claim & Take Control of All Online Accounts & Profiles
Social media profiles and posts can appear organically in search results, so take the time to curate a positive image on all your online profiles.
Take control of all social media, networking, and business account profiles under your name. Bolster them with positive, constructive content that matches your brand identity. Follow these tips to optimize your social accounts for improved Google Search results:
- Ensure your profile picture looks appropriate and professional,
- Set all your accounts to the maximum privacy settings with which you are comfortable,
- Deactivate or delete any social media accounts you no longer use,
- Be careful about how much information you share about yourself, and
- When you do choose to post information, make sure it is up-to-date and accurate.
If you own a business, you should also take control of your profiles on online review websites. Claim a profile on sites like Yelp and Google so you can manage your business information, respond to reviews, and be notified of changes to your average rating.
Create a People Card on Google
You can also add a personal blurb for yourself in Google by creating a people card. Google users who search for your name will then be able to see your card in Google Search results.
While adding a people card does not guarantee it will appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), the more information you provide, the more likely it is to rank well.
To create a people card, navigate to Google and search for your name. You can also search for “edit my people card” or “add me to Google.” The option to add yourself to Google Search should appear at the top of the search results. Click “Get started” and fill out the requested information, like your profession and a description of yourself. If you have a common name or share a name with a celebrity, you may need to create a unique term such as “Jane Doe restaurant owner” or “Jane Doe Seattle.”
Once you submit your card, it can take a few hours to appear in Google Search results.
Participate in Interviews & Public Relations Activities
Being quoted in a high-profile publication can overtake negative search results about you from less authoritative sources. Depending on your industry or professional status, you may be able to find a publication that is willing to interview you.
To find a writer or publication to feature you, consider browsing ‘Help a Reporter Out (HARO)’, a platform that connects journalists with sources for quotes and interviews.
Opt Out of Data Broker Websites
Data broker sites collect and sell personal data to other companies for marketing and research purposes. Many of these platforms allow individuals to opt out of the collection process.
Data broker websites aggregate and share information that may be inaccurate or out-of-date. Opting out of data broker sites helps you take control of the kinds of information that is available about you online. Removing your information from these sites can increase your privacy and protect you from cyber-attacks and online fraud.
The opting-out process varies by data broker, but you can typically start by contacting them directly or submitting a request through their website.
Send an Editorial Request to a News Publisher
If a news publication has posted inaccurate or irrelevant information about you, you can send an editorial request for redaction or removal.
Most news editors are unwilling to take down news articles completely. However, many will redact or edit personal details that might affect the subject’s privacy. For instance, an article reporting on a local arrest may be edited to protect the identity of the arrestee.
An attorney can help you draft a tactful and effective editorial request, negotiate with editors or publishers, and take legal action if necessary to protect your privacy.
To learn more about this process, see our article: “How to Remove News Articles From the Internet.”
Request a Website Update or Remove the Content
If harmful content has been posted about you on a website, you can contact the site owner to ask them to change or remove the information. This kind of information can include outdated occupation information, incorrect contact information, or old product listings.
Most social media and networking sites have dedicated reporting processes for requesting the removal of content that violates the platform’s policies. If harmful content about you from social media is ranking in Google Search results, you may want to report the post to the platform where it was originally posted.
For further information on reporting harmful social media content, check out our in-depth guide: “How to Deal With Social Media Defamation & Libel.”
Request De-Indexing of the Content for Terms of Service (ToS) Violations
Google and other search engines have Terms of Service (ToS) dictating what kind of content is allowed on the platform. Sexually explicit content or copyright infringement, for example, violates Google’s ToS and may be removed (de-indexed) by Google’s legal team.
If you believe a search result violates Google’s ToS, you can send a de-indexing request. De-indexing is the process of removing a web page or site from a search engine’s index. A deindexed site or page will no longer appear in search results for specific search terms or keywords.
When you submit a removal request through Google’s outdated content removal tool, explicit content removal tool, or copyright infringement removal tool, remember that the process can take some time, and not all requests will be successful. Removal requests may be rejected or ignored because Google may not be in agreement with the reasons you are requesting removal or that it violates their Terms of Service.
Keep in mind, also, that de-indexing is not complete deletion. When Google de-indexes content, it is not removed from its original source. The content can still be accessed via direct links or social media shares.
If you want to remove content from the internet completely, we recommend having it removed at its source first. Then, submit a de-indexing request with Google to ensure outdated results do not appear in Google Search results.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive guides explaining ‘How to Remove Unwanted Google Search Results’ and ‘How to Remove Your Photos From Google Search’.
Utilize Suppression Strategies or Services (ORM)
It is sometimes impossible to remove harmful content from the internet completely. In these cases, your best alternative may be to suppress the content instead. While it is possible to create positive content and curate a positive online reputation on your own, you may not have time to spare for the regular upkeep and content creation required.
Professional online reputation management (ORM) consultants and services use search engine optimization (SEO), content removal, and public relations strategies to monitor and improve your reputation. These services can help boost the visibility of positive content while identifying and suppressing (or removing) negative content that may harm your reputation.
Take Legal Action to Remove Defamatory Content
If you have been the subject of defamatory attacks online, it can be difficult to handle the situation on your own. An experienced defamation or content removal attorney may act as an invaluable resource, helping you explore your options for removal, sending cease and desist letters, and filing a lawsuit to compel the content’s removal.
A cease and desist letter serves as a warning to the individual publishing the unlawful content. Such a letter demands they stop their actions and remove the content—or face potential legal consequences. It is important to seek legal advice before sending a cease and desist letter, as it should be written and delivered in a specific manner to be effective.
If the content in question is defamatory, infringes on your rights, or violates your privacy, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit to obtain a court order to remove the content. You may need to file a John Doe lawsuit to identify the anonymous perpetrator before holding them accountable.
For more information, please see our comprehensive article explaining ‘Why Hire an Attorney as Your Online Reputation Expert’ and ‘How to Remove Defamatory Content From Google’.
We Help Individuals & Businesses Clean Up Their Online Reputations
If you or your business is the target of defamatory online attacks or other damaging content on the internet, it can be difficult to know where to start when cleaning up your reputation.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience working with individuals and businesses from all walks of life to bolster and repair their online reputations. This includes removing defamatory and unwanted content from search engine results and actively monitoring the internet for digital threats to your reputation.
“I am so happy with the first-class service I received. Thank you for helping me re-claim my good name!”
Steve G. MD
Feb 5, 2023
If you would like to explore custom online reputation management services or your options to remove damaging content from the internet, reach out to schedule your initial no-obligation consultation with an intake specialist by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.