Images found on the popular search engine Google can present risks to your online reputation. In this guide, we will share tips to remove images from Google to clean up your search results.
In today’s fast-paced digital environment, search engines are an everyday part of life. Millions of people use these platforms every day to learn about the world around them. In many cases, people use Google search to look up others. What they find in search results can have a powerful effect on decision-making processes.
A single unflattering or embarrassing image from Google can harm your online reputation, potentially keeping you from achieving your personal and professional goals. Removing images from the search giant can be a complex process. With the tips below, you can have success at taking down an image from Google, helping you to protect and repair your critical digital reputation.
Google Images: Risks to Your Online Reputation
Google Images is one of the most popular features on the search engine. Every day, millions of people use the feature to find photographs of people, places, and things. In fact, Google is sometimes used as an informal background check tool.
Image search results have the potential to influence others’ perceptions of you. Imagine if an embarrassing photo of your past were to appear in search results — images like mugshots, an explicit image that was stolen from you, or party pictures shared without your control. When people discover such images in search results, they may view you in a different light.
How can these images put your online reputation at risk? If someone discovers these images in search results, they may form a negative opinion about you, causing them to lose trust in you. If image search results are negative, you may miss out on opportunities in your life, including:
- Getting accepted into the school of your choice
- Landing that dream job you applied for
- Getting approved for a home, vehicle, or business loan
- Starting a relationship with someone new
In simple terms, even a single embarrassing image from Google can upend your chances of achieving your goals. It makes sense to remove images from Google search results as quickly as possible to protect your reputation and give you a fighting chance at achieving the successes you desire.
How Can I Remove Images from Google?
The removal process for Google images can be complex, and the search engine company may only agree to remove images under certain specific circumstances. These circumstances include:
- An explicit image posted without your knowledge or approval. This can include involuntary fake pornography, revenge porn, or similar images.
- An image that is considered an intellectual property violation.
- An image used as part of an identity theft scheme.
There is one major caveat to consider when you request removal from Google search results, and that is if an image can be considered as having a compelling public interest. If the image CAN, you are likely to be unsuccessful in getting it taken down. You may have to resort to other tactics to remove image results from Google, including legal options.
How Did My Photos Wind Up in Search Results?
When you conduct a Google search, you may be surprised to discover images, videos, and photos that you simply don’t want on the platform. You may even wonder “how did these pictures and videos wind up in Google search results?”
The answer is somewhat complicated. First, every image from Google is pulled from sources across the web, including:
- Public records sites operated by local, state, and federal agencies
- Third-party data broker sites that scrape public records and repost the content
- Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
- Third-party blogs or websites that host revenge porn or fake pornography
Most images come from these potential sources, but any image appearing in Google search results may have been shared inadvertently — or maliciously — by someone you know. And, once a photo is online, it may be extremely difficult to find every source. When you want to remove an image, your work is cut out for you.
Two Approaches to Image Removal
There are two primary approaches to consider when choosing to have an image removed from search results:
- When the photo belongs to you or is otherwise under your control
- When the photo was posted without your knowledge on a third-party website, blog, or file sharing platform.
When the Photo Belongs to You
This scenario is the easiest for you to control, as you have direct access and control over the image you want to be removed. Simply delete the offending image from your personal website, social media platforms where you posted it.
After you remove an image under your control, it may take time for the image to disappear from Google search results. Content removed from the search platform goes through a process of verification as the search spider reindexes every site where the image may have appeared. Check back periodically — eventually, the search results will be cleaned up.
When the Photo is Hosted on a Third-Party Site
This is where it can get complicated. You can request removal from the site owner, but they are under no obligation to do so unless you can prove specific violations of site policy. In other words, removal requests may or may not work, but it is always a good idea to ask. First, check the site’s homepage for an administrative contact email address or phone number. If that doesn’t put you in touch with the site owner, you may also consider contacting the site’s hosting company.
In worst-case scenarios, image removal may require the assistance of a professional, such as an attorney or a reputation management firm. These professionals can make a request for you and may use a removals tool like takedown requests, terms of service violation notices, or other legal avenues to help get images off any site that is hosting them. A website’s site owner is far more likely to honor your removal request if it is backed by a compelling legal reason.
Locating Images in Google Search Results
Removal of photos and video from Google search begins with identifying where the images are hosted. Simply type your name into the Google search box, hit submit, then navigate to Google Images for results.
Right-click on each image to learn where the site is hosted. The same image may appear on dozens or even hundreds of sites. Copy the link address or URL of each site and paste it into a list as you work through the search results. Also, you may want to write down the name and email address of the site owner to help speed up the request removal process. Removal processes vary between websites, so be prepared to follow every link and read up on each site’s removal policy to make your request.
When searching for your name, it is helpful to try variations in order to uncover every possible instance of your image in search results. Try variations like:
- Your full name
- Middle name
- Initials or abbreviations
- Name + location
As an example, the common name “John Smith” may not be sufficient to discover every image in online searches. Adding a middle initial — “John H. Smith” — may narrow down results, giving you more control over the search process. “J.H. Smith” or “Johnny Smith” may be helpful search terms too.
Monitoring and Maintenance of Google Searches
Once you have been successful in removing an image from Google, your work is not done. Reputation management professionals know that ongoing monitoring of search results is an important step that many people overlook.
Image results may turn up new instances of your embarrassing photo or mugshot. Just because you remove an image once doesn’t mean that it will stay off the web. Photos have tremendous “staying power” online, which makes regular monitoring and maintenance a critical aspect of protecting your online reputation.
Online Reputation: Your Image Removal Experts
Online Reputation is a leader in customized image removal services. Take charge of your reputation and preserve your public perception with our help. We have been successful in removing thousands of images from search results. Call our image removal team today at (844) 599-8680 for details or to receive a free consultation.
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