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Paying For Online Content Removal

If you’re a frequent reader of our articles here at Reputable.com, chances are you’ve come across a situation or are currently faced with the dilemma of whether or not to pay to have content removed online. Putting aside the fact that there is a huge gray area (morally speaking) when it comes to websites that generate revenue from charging customers to remove detailed information, negative reviews and images, an unfortunate part of the Reputation Management industry is that these services do exist and have become more commonplace in an age where data can be published online in an instant. This article will provide tips on how to go about getting unwanted data removed from a website completely and whether or not it is a worthy investment to do so.

In many cases, we become aware of negative content that affects us through a simple Google Alerts notification or by word of mouth. One of the quickest ways to get an individual or company’s attention is to have a negative review or other unflattering expose published on a website that ranks highly in search engines. This reality certainly is not lost on website owners who specialize in this sort of journalism or data entry, as it has become highly profitable over the last few years as more people go online to find out information on everything from a current boyfriend to a potential employee.

So how does a person who is concerned about maintaining his or her online reputation go about removing this data instead of knocking it down? In some cases, a friendly phone call or email will do the trick. However, this absolutely will not work when it comes to sensitive data that has been published online for the express purpose of motivating a person or business to pay a fee for its removal in the future. When simply pushing down an undesirable search result won’t do (usually in cases of criminal data and excruciatingly negative reviews) your best option is to seek out a price from the website administrator in question and negotiate to the best of your ability to get it wiped off the Internet completely. This is the best way to ensure that prying eyes don’t discover the data in the future – although there are some risks.

Paying For Internet Content Removal

The first step to paying a fee for getting undesired content removed permanently is to establish a communication link between yourself (or your firm) and the website that has published the content. This can be easily done in most cases with a simple WHO IS search at DomainTools.com or by using the website’s Contact form. It is important to keep in mind that the price is usually up for negotiation, so the calmer, more emotionally detached you remain, the better chance you have of working out a final payment that is within your budget.

In some cases, websites that derive a large percentage of their revenue from content removal will have a pre-established price list depending on their Search Engine Optimization efforts and the type of data in question. For example, many sites that dedicate efforts towards publishing criminal data have a set list for eliminating entries that often depends exclusively on the type of crime in question. Something minor such as Public Intoxication, Open Container infractions and traffic violations may come with a much more reasonable fee when compared to felonies such as major theft, repeat large quantity drug possession and violent crimes – but this isn’t always the case. In many situations, the fee will depend on the website’s own perception of how valuable the removal of the negative content will be to the person involved. An executive who is looking to land a high paying job in the future may be willing to shell out thousands of dollars to get a DUI entry removed from a private website while someone who is involved in serious crimes may not be concerned about having his or her reputation tarnished online at all. This is something to consider when entering into any negotiation with a fee-based content removal website.

Is There A Guarantee The Information Won’t Appear Elsewhere?

This is one of the most frequent questions a paying customer has when deciding to shell out a fee for removing data published on the Internet. The simple answer to this question is no. There is no guarantee that once you have paid a fee for online content removal that the data won’t appear elsewhere. Especially in the case of criminal and court records, the information may already be widely distributed offline by the time a client finds out about its online publication. This means that other websites may pick up the data and paste it to their own site subsequent to having reached a deal with the original site where your information was published. More and more, I’m advising many clients to be wary about public records removal online due to the fact that they are becoming so widely circulated. Unless there is a significant short term benefit to having a public record removed, you may be best off weathering the storm and opening social media accounts in an effort to push the results down rather than negotiate to remove them completely.

Online reviews are a different animal altogether. Although many of today’s leading online review sites claim to have a strict policy against content removal (namely negative reviews), there are many services which will agree to completely wipe a review off the Internet for a fee. In many cases, the paying client has a reasonable chance of never seeing that review again once it has been cleared, but that doesn’t stop other reviewers from taking the initiative and publishing more negative content about you or your business.

Short And Medium Term Future Of Undesired Search Results

In the short term, it is very likely that the mass publication of negative data related to individuals and companies will spike due to the sheer amount of people who will be eager to get that content removed at a later date. As long as someone can be negatively affected by data published online, there will be attempts by websites to generate revenue from the publication of said data.

However, there are measures being taken by search engines (especially Google) to rank reviews and content more reliably in an effort to weed out online flamers (a term used to describe those who dedicate the vast majority of their time to writing negative, inflammatory reviews) and websites that rely almost exclusively on content removal services. This likely won’t change the landscape in the near future, but in three to five years highly ranked content may trend heavily in favor of websites and reviewers who have achieved an Authority status via their post history. What this means is that there may be less chance of a random review ranking highly and bringing down your company’s revenue, but a firm will still need to make a dedicated effort to satisfying the demands of Authoritative reviewers and posters. If someone has a very relevant post history and decides to publish negative content about you or your company, you may still have to concern yourself with methods for removing or pushing down a that entry.

Summary

Paying for the removal of online content can be an expensive endeavor that doesn’t always guarantee results in the long term. As always, it is best to conduct yourself and your business in a manner that is open with potential clients while addressing issues as they occur. Most businesses are not capable of maintaining a 100% customer satisfaction rate, which means that there will eventually exist the need for relating successfully with the public.

If you do decide to provide a fee for online content removal, attempt to get as much information as possible out of the person or website that is charging the fee while also negotiating a provision that the information will never again be published on that particular website (or its subsidiaries when applicable). Unfortunately, since content removal is not always possible (or even recommended), most people who are seeking out our services must find other means to make highly ranked results that are negative less relevant.

By opening up social media accounts and publishing other, more pleasant data about a person or firm, many are able to make undesirable search results appear further down in search engines. This can be of significant value and also allows for a Do It Yourself fix. While it’s not as good as getting something removed completely, it does make it much less likely that a negative review or data entry will be found by someone who will take that information and use it against you or your business.

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David Harold

Reputation Consultant at Reputable.com
David Harold began programming as a kid (in Basic) and never lost his passion for computers and technology. Since the 1990s, he has worked extensively with online directories, search engine optimization and most recently Reputation Management. He enjoys discussing social media strategy and assisting individuals as well as companies with their Reputation Management needs. Feel free to contact him anytime if you are in need of assistance with search engine results or have any questions.

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