How to: Remove private content from Google Search

When we Google ourselves or our businesses, the results aren't always what we were expecting. If negative or private, we might wonder how we can get this information out of the public eye. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken.

To illustrate how these work, think of yourself as being inside a building and the internet being the landscape outside that building. Google is the window; it monitors and offers you a portal to show you what’s going on outside.

Google’s job is simply to report what it sees - it doesn’t want to jeopardise this by being inaccurate. So, if you want Google to change its report, there are two main routes you could take:

[1] Change the landscape

The simplest method is to actively change the landscape outside; or rather change the content on the internet.

If you have control over content this is by far the best option, since you don’t have to convince Google to do anything other than its usual task of monitoring.

To do this either:

  • hide the content that you don’t want Google to bring up - by changing the privacy settings surrounding it (i.e. making your Facebook Profile private, so content cannot be searched for)
  • remove the content entirely - particularly effective to stop outdated or irrelevant content from being found by Google. 

To complete the process, you’ll need to ask Google to re-crawl / reindex the page. Don’t worry if these terms are unfamiliar - the concept is quite simple.

The internet is so vast Google couldn't possibly have the time to scan absolutely everything before giving you your results (which will be in a few milliseconds of your request). To combat this problem, Google scans the landscape all the time - to try and keep its overall picture as accurate as possible. The results you get back will reflect the landscape last scanned by Google.

This scanning is called crawling - so asking Google to re-crawl a specific page means asking it to take a look at the part of the landscape where your now hidden or removed content was before. Google will take note of the fact that something has changed, and so update its overall picture.

If you don’t do this, you will have to wait for the next time Google is scheduled to look at your part of the landscape (which often takes a while).

How to request a crawl

  • Copy the URL of the page you want to be re-crawled by Google (i.e. the page you have removed or hidden content on)You’ll need the page’s URL and a note of something that’s changed (something that has gone from the live version which is still showing up on Google).
  • Go to Google’s removal tool and paste the URL into the request removal field. Click request removal button. 
  • Follow the instructions in the pop-ups, telling Google whether the content has been updated (which will be the case if privacy settings have changed) or removed.
  • Once done, your removal request will be set to pending.
  • It may take a while a few days for anything to happen, so be sure to keep tabs on everything.

If you are in control of the content you want removed, this should be a nice, simple process. However, if someone else controls the content you want removed it is a little more complicated. 

The best method would be to try and request that the content owner removes / hides the offending content. If they do this, you can then use the same removal tool to request Google to re-crawl the page.

[2] Remove sensitive information

If the content you are trying to remove falls into one of a select few categories of sensitive personal information, you may be able to take a different route. These categories include:

  • bank records
  • images of your hand-written signature
  • explicit material, shared without your consent
  • medical records

You can request that Google ignores certain content when scanning the landscape where this content can be found. However, this is not ideal since the content is still there and could therefore still be accessed in ways not affected by Google search - but it can sometimes help a lot.

Follow the procedure on Google’s information removal tool, selecting the Remove information you see in Google Search and then In Google's search results and on a website.


We hope that the procedures discussed in this article help give you some more privacy online. If you have any issues regarding this topic, please do comment below to get in touch.