Since every company is different, with different situations and challenges, the following is more of a framework other than a list of set-in-stone rules on how to deal with negative listings on Google. Let’s jump right in.
What is a Negative Search Result?
A negative search result is any webpage in the search result that gives out false or negative information about a business or individual. Such results can drastically damage the online reputation of the business or individual, leading to huge losses of revenue and can sometimes bankrupt a company completely. Any efforts to repair the Internet reputation is referred to as online reputation management.
Online Reputation Management by contacting the Webmaster
As a rule of thumb, if the website is a shady, extortion oriented website, don’t contact the webmaster. They will just replicate the content. Contacting the webmaster rarely works but it’s still worth a try. This method can help you remove some negative results from Google and other search engines.
Here’s how to do it:
• Search and download all of the negative search results from at least 10 pages.
• Find the contact email of the webmaster. You can use the Who.is service to find this information
• Contact the owner of the site and request them to remove the negative page/content from their site
How to Push Down Negative Search Results on Google
If you prefer burying the negative results on the search results, you can sometimes be able to get the search result taken down directly. However, this won’t work in every case, though it’s a step forward when repairing your online reputation.
Keep in mind that there can be some negative consequences from removal requests, so you need to ask yourself a number of questions like: Who posted the content, you or another party? Did the negative result originate from a status update, tweet, blog post, etc. that you posted? Or did the result come from an account that you have access to or can control? If this is the case, delete it immediately.
You don’t have to bury the search results if you can control them. Get rid of anything associated with this content. While there’s still a chance that the content might appear somewhere else, such as in cached searches and screenshots, or posts in other profiles or sites, the first step is removing as much of the negative content as you can.
Is it a friend, colleague, or neighbor who posted the content? Or did a friend post something about you that could hurt your academic, professional, or personal opportunities? If this is the case, humbly request them to take it down. And as mentioned earlier, the content could resurface elsewhere, but it’s still a good first step. Remember to push for full removal. For instance, if your friend just de-tags you from the post, the image will still be associated with the potentially damaging content.
Was it an acquaintance or somebody who you’re in good terms who posted the content? Try reaching out to them as you would a friend. You only need to be polite and explain where you’re coming from logically. If the person isn’t focused on their personal brand or has different boundaries than you do, it’s possible they’re just oblivious of how the content can affect your reputation negatively.
For those who live in Argentine or the E.U., check to see if the content falls under the Right to be Forgotten standard of removal by Google. For those based in the US, check whether the content falls under Google’s standards of Takedown Requests. You can simply look up the legal causes of removal and follow the necessary steps for submission.
The only information that Google doesn’t remove include:
• Date of birth
• Telephone numbers
In case the information you found through Google falls under a category which Google would be willing to remove it, then start the removal process immediately.
Google also has a number of different products such as Blogger, Image Search, Google+, etc., so if your information is in one or more of these products, be sure to locate the specific product(s) your removal request is related to to make the process easier and thorough.
Removing Content from Google
The search engine removal process typically has a low success rate. For this reason, most reputation managers prefer the push-down strategy which is aimed at hiding the negative information deep in Google. The logic here is almost no one goes past the second page of search results when they search for something.
Removing Negative Search Results with DMCA
Google has made it much easier for people to request removal from the search results. However, in most cases, it doesn’t work. Google mostly complies with the search results that are a real threat to a person, or when a person is steal intellectual property (copyright infringement).
This means that if you have a negative search result with your name on it, you can ask Google to remove it by filling a form. Keep in mind that Google is rather strict with regards to removal or search results. As such, make sure that when you contact them for removal, you’ve included information about why you want it removed. You should also note that attempts to manipulate the DMCA process can cause Google to take legal action against you or your company.
How to Deal with Negative Search Results for a Brand
If this worked for you, congratulations! If not, then don’t worry. There are still a few more ways to deal with negative search results for your brand.
1. Acknowledge that you have a problem and get in front of it
For a moment, forget that there’s something negative appearing online about your personal brand. It’s not a technical problem. It’s not a problem with your search engine optimization. It’s simply a problem with your reputation.
Marketing and PR teams are good at changing the public perception of a company or brand. Nonetheless, you need to address the root issue that caused the problem, otherwise, you’re just papering over the cracks.
2. Investigate the problem
What caused the reputation problem? How are you dealing with it? What are the consequences of having the problem in the public domain? What have you learnt, or can be learned from the problem? How do you plan on avoiding such an issue from occurring in the future?
In case you’re wondering how you can get in front of something that might not have happened, it’s through contingency planning. For example, you can have a communications plan in place to deal with the various negative issues, and monitor your brand proactively for results on Google. The marketing team, whether in house or agency should do this on an ongoing basis for best results.
3. Find out if you can get the negative content removed from the internet
If the negative content is on a platform or website that you can control, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Yelp, explore the various options to remove it. But before you do, consider whether responding to the issue head on is more effective than outright removing it. Of course, you don’t want backlash for removing a complaint. So, having a solid plan is critical here.
Google provides brands with a tool to remove the listings that they don’t like or don’t meet some given criteria, such as results they deem outdated, irrelevant, or inappropriate. If your problem meets these criteria and you choose to proceed with this option, keep in mind that it won’t remove the specific article from the internet, but only from the search results. So, the content can still be shared or linked to.
4. Reach out to journalists and websites for a follow-up on the negative content
If it’s a newspaper result that causing you the trouble, you can contact the journalist to help in improving the matters. A good PR team should already have relationships with journalists through many years of experience. Consider exploring options for an interview or follow-up piece where you can share your side of the story or discuss what you have done about the problem.
This can help to change the negative into a positive. Still, you need to balance this against the potential of increasing negative feedback, and keep in mind that you won’t necessarily have total control over the final story.
5. Push the negative Search Results down by using other brand’s properties
You can actually use the love Google has for authoritative sites to help push down the negative search results about your brand. For those who don’t have them already, build up profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social platforms. These are very powerful and authoritative site in Google’s eyes, and your profile on them can start to rank for various things while displacing the negative stories further down.
You don’t even need to keep these channels updated. The most important thing is having a solid strategy and an ongoing commitment. One of the key benefits of engaging in social media is that it provides a platform for direct communication with your customers and prospects.
Consider using PPC AdWords to help push down the negative results by creating an ad campaign for your brand. Google usually ranks the PPC ads right above the regular results, pushing them down further. The only downside is that you have to pay for the traffic which you were probably already getting. Nonetheless, brand terms tend to be low-cost, and this can be quite a cost-effective technique for dealing with negative listings. Plus, you can always turn it off when you’re happy with the organic results.
6. Push good stories about your brand proactively
The negative stories that appear on the news sites about your brand are not ranking because they are negative. They rank because the story contains your brand name and its keywords. Pushing positive stories about your brand throughout provides you with an opportunity to change the conversation and perception surrounding your brand. A good PR team should already be doing this for you as part of the online reputation management.
Make sure that your brand name is included in the title of the post to give it a better chance of ranking for queries related to your business. When you do get a positive story published, you can then include in it a link to your site. Then push the post throughout your social media channels to give it a further boost.
7. Acknowledge that your brand is more visible than ever
No legitimate business ever sets out to provide a negative experience to the customers. However, the decisions you make and all the possible consequences should be thought out through the lens of reputation management.
You should proactively monitor the reputation of your brand, and put in place plans to react to any negative situation, with details on how you’ll deal with negative reviews, complaints, and issues from disgruntled customers.
Ways to push down negative search results of your brand on Google
Create a website: purchase a domain name on your business name, create a responsive website, and optimize it for the keywords affected by the negative results. Be sure to also optimize the on-page SEO and to enhance its load speed
Build social media profiles on your keyword: interlink all of your social media pages and profiles, and ensure that you have one email address for all of them.
Build web 2.0 blogs: Blogs like Tumblr, Medium, Blogger, WordPress, etc. and optimize them for the affected keyword with content. Take care to never mention the negative search result you want to push down.
Guest blog on authority site: get your positive articles published on your name on top quality blogs and new sites related to your niche. Be sure to backlink to your site from these articles.
Generate powerful backlinks: with the positive content in place, you can create links on the authority sites and interlink to your positive content. This will help improve the positive content that rank in search about your brand, especially on Google.
If you are looking how to push down negative search results on Google, we hope you have found some answers. All of these things will help increase the positive press about your brand and improve your online presesnce.
If you want further help with such matters why not contact me for help.