Let’s go straight to the bad news. It’s virtually impossible to block your name from being searched online. The better news is that you can control the results people get when they search your name on Google. With a little diligence, it’s possible to take back some element of control over your identity on the internet.
Why Can’t I Block My Name From Being Searched On Google?
The reason why you can’t block your name from appearing in Google searches comes down to the way that search engines like Google work. Google, and other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing, exist primarily to find information on the internet from third-party websites, not to host the content themselves.
That means that there isn’t some box you can tick on Google that will stop your name from appearing in Google searches. Even if Google could stop your name from showing up, they’re not the only search engine available, and your name could be found on other search engines instead.
So, What Can I Do To Stop My Name From Showing Up Online?
While you can’t stop Google from showing your name to strangers on request, you can reduce the number of places your name appears in the first place.
Search engines like Google find your name by collating data from anywhere it sees it online. By finding the websites where your name appears and removing your name from them, you can, in theory, make it impossible for your name to appear in a Google search.
Make your online profiles private (or better yet, delete them)
If you have a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platform account where your name appears, Google can easily find it.
One way to stop your name from appearing in searches from these places is to make sure your profiles aren’t visible to search engines. To do this, set all your social media profiles to private.
Unfortunately, if your profile was already public, it’s too late. Your information will continue to appear in Google searches regardless.
The most surefire way to keep your existing social media accounts from leaking your name onto Google is to delete them. Doing this and then starting new accounts with all of the privacy settings enabled will ensure that your social media data isn’t indexed in Google’s search algorithm.
Go directly to the source
But what if, after a quick search on Google (pro tip: use incognito mode to get the most accurate results when you’re looking yourself up on the internet), your name appears on a domain outside of your control?
In this case, the only way to delete your name off the internet for good is to either opt-out of sharing your data on the site or contact the site owner directly and request that they delete your personal information.
The vital part of this operation is finding all of the places where your name might be appearing. Here are some of the types of sites that might be hosting your name on the internet:
- Data Brokers – Websites like Whitepages and Spokeo have a business model built around collating and reselling personal data such as your name, home address, and phone number. In most cases, you should be able to opt-out of your data being listed or sold on these sites.
- Craigslist/eBay – Old advertisements you placed on online sales boards might still feature your name as well as your phone number or email address. Take a look back over any listings you might have made and delete anything that has your name on it.
- Newspaper archives – Digitized archives and newspaper clippings might also have your name on them. You can usually contact these sorts of sites directly and ask them to remove your personal information.
- Blogs and other websites – Blogs and websites that belong to individuals and companies can legally feature any of your details that are part of the public record. If you’re unsure who owns a site, you can do a Whois search to find out.
If your name is posted online in a malicious, threatening, or exploitative way, Google can step in to help delist the site hosting it from showing up in Google searches.
However, even if Google delists a certain site from appearing in search results, the content that holds your name will still be present on the site itself.
Google can’t remove information from the internet. Moreover, Google isn’t the only search engine either. Even if Google were to stop your name from showing up, your name might still appear on Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engine sites.
Get professional help
You shouldn’t underestimate the level of effort required to stop your name from showing up on Google. There are likely over 40 data brokers that currently feature and sell your personal information, including your name.
The best way to shortcut the continuous-time commitment of finding and contacting places where your name appears online is to enlist a subscription-based online data privacy guard.
Services like DeleteMe continuously scan the internet for your name and personal data and coordinate efforts to take your name offline.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
While it’s possible to reduce the number of times your name shows up on Google, removing it from search results for good isn’t an easy thing to do. Once your name has appeared on Google in some form, it takes a concerted and dedicated effort to stop it from showing up again.
DeleteMe can make the job of removing your name from Google search results easier — and more likely to succeed.
However, as always in data security, prevention is the best cure. Stop your name from showing up on Google by ensuring that your personal details aren’t anywhere they shouldn’t be in the first place.