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Q. When you are faced with problems online, who do you turn to?
A. Content Removal Agencies.
Q. When engaging an agency, how do you know they can actually do what they 'say' that they do?
A. You ask these five questions.
How long has THIS COMPANY been in business for?
Many 'businesses' pop up overnight with nothing but a website, Instagram account and freshly incorporated company claiming that they've already removed 5,000 URL's from the internet.
Asking the operator how long the current trading company (the one that invoices you) has been trading is an essential question in determining the validity of claims made by staff or on their website.
The takeaway point: If it's less than 12 months, don't bother.
Where is your office, and can I meet with you there?
It's all good and well to operate an e-commerce store selling $15.00 tee shirts from your spare bedroom, but content removal requires resources and staff.
Asking the operator the location of their office and arranging a time to meet is a MUST and ultimately helps to determine the size, competencies and trustworthiness of the business.
The takeaway point: If they can't meet you at an office or devote more than one staff member to see you, they're operating from their mother's basement and are unlikely to have the resources to service you.
What is your background and how do you achieve content removal?
A background in content removal through recognition in third-party blogs and media sources is a perfect way to determine the validity of a content removal agencies claims.
There are a lot of companies, such as SEO and Digital Marketing (no offense) that claim they can remove content. Asking questions like 'how did you get into it', 'what type of clients do you service', 'where do you remove content from', 'what is your educational background' and 'how long have you been doing this' help in filling in the gaps between what they represent and what they can actually do.
The takeaway point: If they don't have a verifiable history of working in the industry, then you could be investing money into their next holiday.
How many URL's have you ACTUALLY removed?
This is the second most important question and helps you determine the likelihood of your investment providing a return, i.e. success.
A lot of companies will tell you that they have removed content, but you first must ask them questions like 'how many URL's', 'where from', 'who for', 'how long did it take to remove XXX amount of URL's'.
Now, you can't at this point determine if the number they quote is real, but you want to check their website and other online content to confirm it at least matches their representations.
As a side note, if they tell you who they've removed content for without a written authority, move along - namedroppers will spread your name to the next customer and cause you more reputational damage.
The takeaway point: They must commit to a number - if they don't, they simply can't remove content.
Where is your PROOF?
This is THE most important question, as everything beforehand is just TALK. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words and the proof IS in the pudding. The process of finding proof is as follows:
A content removal agency should have written references that include phone numbers, emails and a description of the content that was removed. If no written testimonials are on record, that's your second red flag.
3. Confirmation Emails
A content removal agency should have written confirmation emails from platforms like Facebook & Google. If they don't, that's your final red flag to move on to someone else.
A confirmation email should look like this:
The takeaway point: If they can't prove it, they can't do it!