We launched a tool to help companies remove personally identifiable user information out of search results. It felt like the right thing to do. Check it out right here.
Seer came across a handful of companies exposing user information during 2017 and to date this year, we are STILL finding it happening.
Instead of pointing and saying “look at that site that’s not on top of their customer data” and moving on, we wanted to actually try and solve some of these problems. For free.
Keeping user information out of search results is important. The sites that hire Seer or other agencies trust that any user information indexed by Google will be raised up so they can remove it.
But what about the little guys?
What about the big guys who have people wearing too many hats, or for anyone who just doesn’t have time?
What kind of user information did we find?
- Unsubscribe email pages
- Donation pages with donor information
- Pages exposing usernames and passwords
- & even more.
Unsubscribe pages? But that’s really not that important. Right?
Wrong! Here’s Why It Matters:
Put yourself in the shoes of that person whose email is now exposed.
Would you care?
What if it was unsubscribing from a diabetes newsletter? That gets more personal. This is potentially exposing medical information about people that is nobody else’s business.What about a conceal and carry course newsletter? Now we can start deducing who is carrying a gun around with them. Unsubscribe email pages suddenly become a lot more important to get out of search results when considering the potential implications.
Whether it’s 1 or 100 pages from a site, what’s an acceptable number if you’re that 1 person? Zero.
The acceptable number is zero.
From unsubscribe pages that matter to usernames and passwords, we found, and are still finding, a lot of leakage
We built a tool. We hope you use it. We’re not storing any website information.
If we found your site exposing user information, you’ll receive a link pointing you to that Google search result so you can see exactly what the world could see if they wanted to. Then, we’ll try to help you remove it, either with one of our blog posts, over the phone, or over email (No guarantees here, but we’re pretty good at getting pages found in or removed from search results).
What’s Seer’s Angle?
I honestly hope this drives new business for Seer and gets us in front of people who want to do what’s right for their customers. We also genuinely want to help customers of any business.
The Bottom Line: If PII, or personally identifiable information, is escaping your website and landing in search results, consider a digital marketing agency (like Seer!) to help improve your overall website health in addition to secure the privacy of your most important people, your audience.
What if this drives no new business?
If at the end of the day we can say we helped X sites remove thousands of pages exposing user information from search results, we’re still going to feel good about it. It’s the right thing to do for sites and more importantly, their users.
So What’s Next?
Share the tool if you think it’s valuable. We’ll continue to update it and try to make Google just a little more friendly and less phishy for everyone.