If you are in the business of being on the Internet, whether you are a small company or Google, you need control over what is placed on it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a few others allow easy hosting and sharing of pictures, but you don’t get to control them. If searching for your name or your company’s name has turned up a picture that it shouldn’t, for any reason, you can request it be removed from a Google Image search. You can’t get rid of it entirely, but you can limit access. There are several easy steps, so let’s go through them in a how-to version of The Modern Nerd.
Step 1: Find it. Don’t Panic.
If a search for your company has turned up unrelated and unhelpful results, you can request that it be removed from the Google Directory. You will need the complete URL of the page or the picture. If you are doing an Image search, you will need to look at the full image and take the address from the browser’s bar and copy it somewhere to reference quickly later.
Step 2: Webmaster Tools
If you have never visited the webmaster tools page on Google, it is worth a visit. They have tools for your site that can measure traffic and see problems. You will need an account, but it is free to sign up, and it is the same Google Account you use for Gmail and Plus.
Locate the Optimization link on the left menu. The next link you are looking for is REMOVE URLS. Create a new removal request and type or paste in the link that you found earlier. You must be very careful to ensure that the link is exact. URLs are case sensitive.
Step 3: Robots?
Large search engines use algorithms called robots to ‘crawl’ the internet and add pages to their directory. They are completely automated, and there are several tools you can use to keep the robots out of your domain, and you will need to do this to make sure that a removed site stays out of search results permanently.
You must add a text file called robots.txt to your site, which must contain a few lines of code that tell the algorithms which files and folders are off limits. The exact syntax of this code is readily available online, just search robots.txt for examples.
Step 4: Discretion
This one step you can take to limit the exposure to a potentially detrimental image or webpage. However, the most sure way to prevent problems is to make sure that personal images, information, and materials are kept away from the Internet.
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