How To Remove Personal Information From Google: 7 Strong Tips

As the world’s dominant online search engine, Google has the power to scour billions of websites and return comprehensive results in mere seconds. The technology behind Google’s algorithms can be incredibly useful when you’re conducting research for school or work, looking for business contact information, or catching up on breaking news.

However, when your name becomes the subject of a Google search, you can end up being an easy target for stalkers, identity thieves, and other cybercriminals who will use your private data for their own personal or financial benefit. In these situations, it’s important to know how to remove personal information from Google.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely block your name and information from appearing in Google searches. As a search engine, Google is designed to locate data that already exists on third-party websites, and it currently doesn’t offer any functionality for preventing searches for a specific name or word.

However, there are actions you can take that will minimize your online exposure and make it more difficult for bad actors to find you and your personal information through targeted Google searches.

How To Remove Personal Information From Google

You’ll need to invest concerted time and effort into reducing your risk, but the seven tips below will give you the most bang for your buck in removing your personal information from Google. To snap to a specific tip, click the links below:

  1. Get an accurate assessment of Google search results for your name.
  2. Change your social media settings to private.
  3. Target the third-party sources of your information.
  4. Opt out of data broker sites.
  5. Simplify the process by using an opt-out service.
  6. Hide your residence from Google Maps.
  7. Create new content to help bury personal details.

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1. Get an accurate assessment of Google search results for your name

To give yourself a clear picture of the results that show up when someone else searches your name online, and help you determine how to remove personal information from Google, log out of your browser and/or Google account and clear your browser history and cache.

Alternately, you can use the Incognito mode in Chrome or a private window in Safari to conduct your search. Once you do this, search for your name and save a list of the top sites where your name appears online.

These third-party sites are the source of Google’s information and the locations you’ll need to target to reduce or eliminate the appearance of your name in future searches and help tremendously when it comes to how to remove personal information from Google.

2. Change your social media settings to private

With billions of worldwide users, the biggest social media sites—including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest—usually rank near the top of Google search results. As a result, your social media profiles are likely to be among the first few links anytime someone searches your name in Google. If you’re looking for how to remove personal information from Google, changing social media settings is one of the most important steps to take.

Setting your social media accounts to private can help prevent them from appearing in Google search results, although it may take some time for this to occur if your profiles were public previously.

If you’re serious about eliminating your name from Google searches, deleting your social media accounts is an extreme but effective step. You can opt to move forward without social media—a choice more and more people are making in light of data privacy concerns and the spread of fake news online—or create new accounts that have tight privacy controls from their inception, which ensures they’ll never appear in Google searches.

Google’s Outdated Content removal tool

After you’ve deleted your public accounts, enter their web addresses in Google’s Remove Outdated Content tool; they should be removed completely from searches in 10 to 15 business days.

3. Target the third-party sources of your information

This next step in removing your personal information from Google searches will likely be the most tedious and time-consuming part of the process, particularly if the test search described in the previous tip yielded multiple results.

For most of these third-party sites, you will need to contact each site individually and complete an opt-out request or otherwise request that the site stop collecting and/or storing your personal information.

Common culprits in this area include old listings on virtual marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist, company websites where you currently or previously worked, news sites and personal blogs. If a site doesn’t offer a clear process for opting out of data collection, you may have to find out who owns the site and contact the individual directly with your request.

Utilize ICANN lookups to see who owns a domain

You may be able to locate this contact information on the site, but if not, a Whois domain search may be able to direct you to the person who owns and maintains a particular URL. This will all help when figuring out how to remove personal information from Google.

4. Opt out of data broker sites

In recent years, collecting and selling individuals’ personal information has become a hugely profitable industry for data brokers, which mine publicly available sources (including social media sites and government records) and compile comprehensive files for millions of people.

They then sell access to these files to marketers or subscribers, meaning that total strangers can easily and cheaply find out your contact information, employment details, family connections, and other personal data points. This information can then be used for aggressive marketing campaigns, stalking, identity theft, and a variety of other undesirable purposes.

In addition to the biggest, best-known data brokers like Intelius, MyLife, PeopleFinders, and Spokeo, dozens of smaller sites operate largely under the radar to gather and sell access to your personal information, making the effort to identify and opt out of all of them an incredibly challenging task.

You’ll need to contact each one individually and fill out the opt-out request form on their site (or in some cases, send your request via traditional mail or email) to have your information removed from their databases.

Jumping through the specific hoops on each site can be confusing, frustrating, and tedious, and it may take several months for the company to comply with your request. If your time is limited, your best bet is to target the “big fish” in the data brokerage pond and leave the smaller sites for later.

Looking to go beyond deleting personal data from Google? Get your data automatically removed from dozens of people search websites and data brokers, and avoid hate raids, for less than the cost of a Netflix subscription with Removaly.

5. Simplify the process by using an opt-out service

If you simply don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to opting out of each data brokerage site individually, a comprehensive information removal service like Removaly can tackle the process for you.

Companies like this have the opt-out process down to a science since they’ve removed personal information from both well-known and obscure data brokers on behalf of thousands of clients. These services are skilled at reaching data brokers you might miss if left to your own devices, and they’ll take the time to follow up on your opt-out requests to ensure that all of your personal information has been completely erased from the sites.

Many services will even continue to monitor the web to immediately address the appearance of your name and personal details in newly-launched databases. This all moves towards getting a strong grasp on how to remove personal information from Google.

6. Hide your residence from Google Maps

how to blur your house on google maps
Example of a house blurred in Google Maps

If you’ve ever seen one of the distinctive, camera-laden Google Maps vehicles cruising around your town, you can be sure your home will appear on a search for your address in Google Maps’ Street View. These 3D images are captured from public property, so you can’t stop Google from taking photos of your house, but you can request that they blur its appearance in Street View.

Taking this step will make it more difficult for people to visually identify your home (and any vehicles, license tags and other personally identifiable details that may have also been captured in the photo).

To have the image of your home obscured in Google Maps:

  • Search for your address in Google Maps.
  • Zoom down to the Street View level and select the photo(s) you wish to have blurred. Photos that don’t clearly show your home address will not qualify for removal.
  • Click the link that says “Report a problem” in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Complete and submit the form that appears.

Your request should be processed within 24 hours, but keep in mind that this action is permanent and cannot be reversed, which could make selling your home in the future more challenging.

For a full dive into this process, please see our article How To Blur Your House On Google Maps: A Complete Guide.

7. Create new content to help bury personal details

If the previous steps are unsuccessful in clearing out the search results for your name, you may be able to artificially obscure existing links by creating and publishing new, high-ranking content associated with your name.

Make sure whatever content you create—a new personal website, blog, blog posts, press releases, or social media accounts—is designed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind to ensure that it rises to the top of future Google searches.

This is a pure “online reputation management” play and is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you control the information that shows up for your name in Google searches.

If you’re trying to get a strong grasp on how to remove personal information from Google searches, it may not seem like adding more information to Google is the way to go. However, you’d be surprised at the positive impact that online reputation management, or ORM, can have on controlling your personal data.

Final Thoughts on How to Remove Personal Information from Google

At this point, you’re probably overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort required to prevent your personal information from appearing in Google searches—and you’re not wrong. Minimizing your online presence in a digitally-dominant world is a massive undertaking, but so is trying to repair the damage from identity theft, hacking, and other forms of cybercrime.

Whether you opt to do it yourself or enlist the help of a specialized service to remove your personal information from the internet, your peace of mind is worth the investment. As far as how to remove personal information from Google, though, taking the steps above will get you at a very good point.

Looking to go beyond deleting personal data from Google? Get your data automatically removed from dozens of people search websites and data brokers, and avoid hate raids, for less than the cost of a Netflix subscription with Removaly.

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