June 7, 2016

What You Need to Know About People Search Sites

People search sites display your personal information in one of three main ways. We’ll cover each of these and, in the next section, how to eradicate all three.

Method One: People Search Site Profile Page

Every people search site (all 90-110 of them that exist at any one time) has a dedicated profile page all about you. The page contains various amounts of information as described above. Some sites, like BeenVerified.com, list everything about you - including previous addresses - all on one page. Other sites, like WhitePages.com and Spokeo.com - make entirely new profiles about you every time you move. Depending on your history, there could be 10+ pages on each site just about you. These pages are submitted to Google and the other search engines, and saved. Taking down, deleting, or hiding your profile page is the first step in disabling the next two methods.

Method Two: Advertisement Blocks

Advertisement blocks are a little bit complicated. You’ll undoubtedly see them on people search sites. When you go to a people search site, like WhitePages.com, and search for yourself, you’ll see two things. First, you’ll see search results that are possible matches for your profile. This is just like the search engine results page on Google. Second, you’ll also see advertisement blocks for other people search sites. These blocks are cleverly-designed to look like search engine results, not advertisements. For example, on WhitePages.com, you’ll see what may look like three results for you. Only one of these results is the actual WhitePages.com profile about you. The other two results may be advertisement blocks for InstantCheckMate.com and PeopleFinders.com. Both these ads will have your name and city and state on them. They are direct links to your profiles on those respective sites. The problem is this: even after you delete your WhitePages.com profile, people can still enter your name and city and state in their search engine. The good news is that they’ll be taken to a “No Results Found” page. The bad news is that below that “No Results Found” are ad blocks that provide the same information you just blocked, but on two other sites. And so it goes. Once the ad site’s profile is deleted, it typically takes one to three months for that site’s ad block to disappear from other result pages. For example, if you were to also delete your InstantCheckMate.com profile after deleting your WhitePages.com profile, the InstantCheckMate.com ad would disappear from the WhitePages.com results page in one to three months. The time lag is due to the ad blocks being sold once a month or once a quarter, with whatever information is available at the time. Once your profile is deleted, that ad block will no longer be created. The good news is that in the meantime, the InstantCheckMate.com ad block will lead to a “No Results Found” page once that profile is deleted. Just watch out for the ad blocks on that site. And so it goes.

Method Three: Google Search Results

Now back to Google. Remember when we said Google doesn’t keep your information, they just display the results page showing where it is on people search sites? That’s true, but those results may still be showing up even after that profile page is deleted. That leads to the problem of clicking on that empty WhitePages.com results page but still seeing ad blocks. Those links that lead to “Not Found” pages that still contain ad blocks are what Google calls “dead links”. The profile once existed and was indexed by Google, but Google has yet to learn that the page is no longer there. This can take a few days or a few months, depending on how often the people search site asks Google to “crawl”, or index, their site.