Can You Remove Negative or Embarrassing Content from Search Results?


With an incredible 77% of businesses admitting to Googling any potential employee before hiring them, maintaining a positive image online has never been so essential. Whether it’s a bad review or just an embarrassing old photo, it’s all too easy for negative content to appear alongside your name or brand in online search results.

Is It Therefore Possible to Remove This Negative Content from Search Results?

Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, there are some “right to be forgotten” laws that mean you can demand for outdated or irrelevant content to be removed, but this only applies to a fairly narrow set of circumstances. For the most part, reviewers and publishers have every right to write what they like, so no – you can’t demand for content to be removed. Therefore, one of the best options for reducing the impact of negative content is to seek out expert online reputation management.

What Is The “Right to Be Forgotten”?

The right to be forgotten was first introduced to EU law in 2012 when Spanish businessman Mario Costeja Gonzalez argued that a sixteen year old article about his financial difficulties was no longer relevant. Because it appeared whenever people Googled his name, it was having an unnecessarily negative impact on his business dealings. The court agreed with Mr Gonzalez and the right to be forgotten will now soon be enshrined in EU General Data Protection Regulations.

Recent examples of the right to be forgotten in action include old newspaper articles detailing crimes a person was later exonerated of. However, the rules around this issue are quite tight. There are plenty of cases where Google can refuse to remove content. In fact, during 2015-16, 75% of requests for information removal have been denied. So, although the right to be forgotten can be a useful tool in some cases, it cannot be relied upon.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Instead of removing or un-Googling content, online reputation management is a practice designed to more positively promote content. Through high quality SEO backlinks, social media and blogs, reputation management takes a holistic approach to making sure search results show brands in a positive light.

Online reputation management eliminates the need to remove negative content, simply by actively promoting positive content. This is a great approach for improving personal or brand image online.

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