The web is not a centralized entity. It consists of literally thousands of servers, millions of connections and hundreds of search engines all working at once. This means removing a business entry is a slow and inexact process. However, by taking methodical steps, mention of your business will slowly fade from the Internet. In time, search engines will no longer find mention of your business, and it will stop popping up amid their search results.
Use your company records to compile a list of any sites or services you've employed to promote your company on the Internet.
Contact each company and ask them to discontinue promoting your company. In some cases, you can do this via the web. In others, you'll need to speak with them on the phone. Keep in mind that some companies may require you to complete a contract or give advanced notice.
If you registered your company with any search engines, some allow you to "unregister." If a specific engine allows this, you can usually find the process on the same page where you registered the company in the first place.
Ask anybody who provided a link to your website to remove it from their websites. These links are one of the chief ways search engines select sites.
Check technical and business forums for threads about web searches and Internet publicity. Processes change frequently throughout the Internet and these forums can keep you up to date on new concepts.
Be patient. Search engines take weeks or months to adjust to changes in the web. This is especially true if your business was mentioned in a popular review site or other web page independent of your company.
Because this is such a complex and time-consuming process, companies exist that will do it for you. The price is fairly steep, but if time or completeness are important, you may want to consider one.
Only do this for a company you own or have been given permission to do this for. The penalties for this kind of mischief are steep, and it's easier than many people think to track activity on the Internet.
- Josh Rivers, Computer Consultant, Vancouver, WA; 2009