What’s the first thing you do when you want to know more about a company? If you’re like most other internet users, you search Google.
If there is a content on Google which you think is affecting your brand’s credibility then you should take care of it really fast. I have helped lots of my clients using this very same strategy. So, I am sure that if you keep following this article, you will see the results.
When businesses find a negative search result they sometimes overreact. They immediately look for a negative SEO specialist, which is the last thing you should do if your only concern is fixing your reputation in the search results.
Why? Because negative SEO is not a very good solution when it comes to online reputation removal. If you want real results, then you should look for someone to actually remove or push down negative information from the search results.
If you own a website and want it removed completely from Google then check out my new post on how to remove your entire website from Google search.
Important: If the website looks shady then never contact the webmaster. They might replicate the content.
This online reputation management strategy rarely works but worth giving it a try.
Negative results can be removed from Google and other search engines. Here’s how:
Find and download all the search results from at least 10 pages.
Find webmaster’s email. Or use who.is to find the information.
Contact a site owner to remove that negative page from their site.
Search result removal strategy has a very low success rate. That’s why most reputation managers prefer to use the push-down strategy to get negative information hidden down in Google. Because hardly anyone goes to the second page of Google.
Research shows that nearly 45% people discover things online that change their minds about doing business with a company. What Google’s first page says about your business is more important for your online reputation than your website or your business card.
So when your competitors create negative content about your company, and it starts showing up in search results on branded keywords, you need to get help.
There are only a couple of strategies to counter negative search results.
Push the negative search results down by creating and ranking positive content about your company
Try to get the negative content completely removed from search results.
You can learn about the first strategy in detail here.
In this post, however, we'll focus on ways to remove the negative content from search results.
Google made it easier for people to request search results removal. But, in most cases, it doesn’t work.
Google only comply with the search results which are a real threat to a person or if it is stealing someone else’s digital work. (AKA copyright infringement)
So, if you have a negative search result on your name you can ask Google to remove it by filling this form. Google is strict when it comes to the removal of a search result. You should use it carefully and include as much information as possible like why do you want to get it removed and what’s the reason.
Also, please keep that in mind if you try to manipulate the DMCA process, Google can take legal action against you or your company.
If that worked for you, congratulations! If not, don’t worry. There’s still some hope. You can still push down the negative search result.
Every situation and company is different, so the below is presented as a framework rather than a list of hard and fast rules of how to deal with negative listings on Google.
Acknowledge the problem and get in front of it.
Forget for a moment that something negative is appearing in an online format. It’s not a technical problem. It’s not a search engine optimisation problem. What you have is a reputation problem.
PR and marketing teams are great at changing the public’s perception of a brand. However, until you address the core issue that resulted in the problem, you are papering over the cracks.
Investigate the issue. What caused it? How was it dealt with? What are the repercussions of the problem being in the public domain? What can be learned from the issue? And, most importantly, how can the issue and those like it be avoided in future?
If you’re wondering how to get in front of something that may not have happened, it’s all in contingency planning.
Have a communications plan to deal with negative issues and proactively monitor your brand’s results on Google. Any marketing team, in-house or agency side should be doing this on an on-going basis. Ensure yours are.
Can you get the negative story or listing removed from the internet?
If the negative story is on a site or platform you control (such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp) you can explore options to remove it but consider if responding to the issue is more effective than simply removing it.
You don’t want a backlash occurring because you removed a complaint. Again, having a plan and process is critical.
Google has provided a tool to remove listings that a brand does not like if they meet certain criteria – results they class as “irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate”.
If you think you can meet these criteria and progress with this option, remember this will not remove the article from the internet, just from search results: it can still be linked to and shared.
Reach out to websites and journalists for a follow-up to the negative story.
If it is a newspaper result that is causing you issue, you can use relationships with journalists to help improve matters.
A good PR team will already have these relationships, through years of experience. Explore options for a follow-up piece or interview where you can put your side of the story across or discuss what has been done about it. Change that negative into a positive.
This needs to be balanced against the potential for increased negative feedback and remember that you won’t have 100% control over the final story.
Push negative stories down by using other brand properties.
You can use Google’s love of authoritative websites to help “push down” negative stories.
If you don’t already have them, build up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other existing platforms. These are powerful and authoritative websites in the eyes of search engines. Your profile on them can start to rank for brand queries and displace negative stories further down the first page or onto page two.
You do need to keep these channels updated. This requires a strategy and on-going commitment and resources. A major benefit of engaging in social platforms such as these is that it allows you direct communication with your customers.
Also, consider using Google’s PPC AdWords platform to push down results by creating a campaign for your brand name.
Google tends to rank PPC ads above regular listings, so it pushes them down. The downside is that you will pay for traffic you were already getting. Brand terms tend to be low cost so it can be cost effective technique to deal with negative listings and you can always switch it off when you are happy with the organic results.
Proactively push good stories related to your brand.
Those negative stories appearing on news sites for your brand terms are not ranking because they are inherently negative. They are ranking because the story contains your brand name.
Pushing positive stories to media outlets gives you an opportunity to change the conversation and perception around your brand. A PR team should be doing this for you anyway in reaction to a negative story.
Ensure the name of your business is used in the article title to give it the best chance of ranking for a query related to your business.
When you get a positive story published, link to from your site. Push it out through your social channels to help give it a further boost.
Acknowledge your business is more visible than ever.
I’m reiterating previous points here, but stories stay around longer than ever before. No legitimate business sets out to give a negative experience to its customers, but the decisions your company makes and possible repercussions should be considered through the lens of reputation management.
Proactively monitor your brand reputation, have plans in place to react to negative situations and know how you’ll deal with complaints, issues, and reviews.