First, let’s clear up some popular myths about online reputation management (ORM). Many people think firms either completely remove negative content from Google or use “negative SEO” to push down search results. Rather, reputation management actually uses advanced SEO principles to lift up multiple positive articles to displace the negative ones.
Depending upon your scenario, we may need to create, optimize and build links to hundreds of pieces of new content. The deeper you want to suppress or bury negative Google results, the broader the scope of the project.
You’re probably thinking that this sounds like a big investment of time and money, and maybe the content will just go away by itself. Unfortunately, the ostrich approach will only make things worse. And negative search results aren’t just embarrassing; they’re a liability.
Negative Google search results impact your legacy, career and company
We work with executives and C-suites as well as global e-commerce brands, financial services firms and large organizations that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. At that level, you can’t afford to have negative search results on the first page of Google.
According to an Advanced Web Ranking study, the first ten search results receive 84.8 percent of all branded clicks.
What’s worse, negative headlines perform 63 percent better than positive ones. Therefore, if a negative article ranks in your top 10 search results, people are likely to read it.
What does that mean for you?
If you’re an executive or CEO, bad press could affect your credibility, business relationships, compensation package, advancement opportunities and even your company. Further, a damaged corporate reputation impacts market capitalization, hiring, sales and revenue.
Curious about our results? Take a look at our reputation management case studies.
Is it easy to remove negative content from the internet?
Some firms claim they can completely remove unwanted search results in less than one month. They may even advertise a money back guarantee. Don’t fall for that line.
Online reputation management takes time, effort and SEO expertise. Firms that promise quick wins often rely upon legal scare tactics and short-term black hat SEO tricks that won’t last. And they certainly won’t be effective against major news outlets like the The New York Times or syndicated networks.
Want the truth?
It’s incredibly difficult to completely remove negative content from Google search. In fact, there are only a few rare instances in which that’s even possible. In almost every case, the only viable approach is to bury negative search results in Google where people won’t find them.
Does your content issue qualify for removal? Let’s find out.
How to remove negative content from Google search
The most permanent way to delete something from Google is to completely erase it from the internet. If the original negative result doesn’t exist, then Google will remove it from its index and nobody will ever find it.
But Google won’t remove negative articles or bad reviews just because you don’t like them. In fact, here’s what they have to say about it:
Types of content Google will take down
Google will only remove content if it poses a real risk of financial harm, identity theft or other types of injury. Mostly, the list includes sensitive personal information. Here are a few examples of when it’s possible to remove search results from Google:
- Social Security Number
- Bank account or credit card numbers
- Confidential or personal medical records
- Photos of signatures
- Nude or sexually explicit images
If your issue falls into one of those categories, you can use the “Remove Information from Google” tool to submit your request. If not, here’s another option:
Removing outdated content from Google search results
Although unlikely, sometimes it is possible to convince a site to take down defamatory content. If the website in question removes a negative article about you but it still appears in your Google search results, you can submit a request to remove outdated content here.
But be warned:
That strategy will ONLY work if the original content was actually deleted. In other words, don’t try to fool Google.
A quick note on bad reviews
Want to get rid of bad customer reviews? Each website has a different removal policy, so we wrote a series of posts to help you take action and clean up your search landscape:
- How to remove Google reviews
- How to remove reviews from Facebook
- Ripoff Report removal
- How to remove bad Yelp reviews
How to remove negative articles from Google
Here’s where things get tricky. You really only have two options if you want to get a news article removed from the internet:
- Ask the website owner to remove it
- Bury negative news articles in Google with ORM
However, proceed with caution if you plan to contact any websites. You should seek professional advisement before you reach out so you don’t make your situation worse. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Be courteous and polite
- NEVER bully people with legal threats.
- Understand that most website owners may not be sympathetic to your request — especially if the content drives traffic to their site.
Since it’s highly unlikely that someone will honor your request, let’s move on to the next section.
How to “push down” negative search results on Google
It’s important to note that we customize our strategies for each client. So, while we often draw from the following tactics to bury search results in Google, the list shouldn’t be seen as a complete strategy. Further, many of these tactics require enterprise-level scalability to be truly effective.
Set up social profiles
Social media profiles rank very well in search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore they’re an easy way to take over several top spots on Google. You’re probably already on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. But do you have a presence on niche industry platforms or other networking sites? We can help you set up and optimize other profiles like local resources, government sites, university domains and much more.
Maintain active accounts
Typically, the more profiles you can set up, the better. But it’s best to only sign up for as many social media profiles as you can reasonably maintain. You can’t build a positive reputation if your accounts are essentially ghost towns. Acquire plenty of engaged followers, make connections and build a genuine community on your social profiles. If you don’t have the time or expertise to manage your social presence, we can help with that, too.
Own your domain
This one seems obvious and you may already have a primary website. But that doesn’t mean you can’t operate more than one web property. Just be sure to register domain names that match your name or your company’s name. It’s best to use exact keyword variations to maximize your ability to rank for branded searches.
Start a blog
Whether located on one of your main websites or on a separate domain, blogs provide Google with a constant stream of fresh content. Remember to create many different types of media to earn spots in video carousels, images and other SERP features.
Optimize your content
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your content rank higher in Google. However, there are hundreds of ranking signals to consider, and you could actually hinder your Google reputation management efforts if you make the wrong changes. Therefore it’s absolutely critical that you choose a reputation management company with proven expertise and a background in SEO.
Earn brand mentions
If you want to remove negative content from google search then earn mentions on authoritative news websites. News sites get tons of backlinks so it doesn’t take much for them to leap to the top of your search results. What’s more, if they link to other positive articles about you then that content will get a boost in rankings as well.
How do you catch an editor’s attention?
Pitch an irresistible story about your company’s philanthropic activities. If you don’t have anything worth mentioning, check our these corporate social responsibility examples for some ideas.
If you aren’t sure how to format your pitches, read through these quick tips to write a great press release.
Show off your expertise
Another fantastic way to improve your online reputation is to write bylined articles. Usually, authors get a bio page on a domain that lists all of their contributor content. That’s an excellent opportunity to mention your own expertise as well as your company.
But don’t be a one-hit wonder. If your author page only has one article then users may not take you seriously. What’s more, Google prefers fresh information rather than sparse, out-of-date web pages.
Use your real name everywhere
Whether your goal is to remove negative search results for a company or an individual, It’s a good idea to use your real, full name on all of your websites, including blogs and social profiles. Pseudonyms, nicknames or clever usernames will confuse Google, and may prevent your preferred content from ranking on page one.
Link and share
Backlinks are still one of the top three organic ranking signals, so you probably won’t be able to remove negative articles from Google without them. What’s more, you can’t optimize websites that you don’t own. Therefore, off page SEO is often your only option to improve rankings for third party content.
While social shares are not a ranking signal, they do put your content in front of a broader audience. If the right people see your posts, they may decide to write an article about you.
Monitor for trouble
Even if you successfully remove search results from Google, there’s always a chance that another issue could surface in the future. To catch problems before they escalate, you’ll need to stay on top of every brand mention that pops up as soon as it happens. Fortunately, we offer 24/7 reputation monitoring and consultation so our clients don’t have to man the crows nest.
It Takes Time – Start Now!
Your customers and business partners will turn to Google’s search results first when they research you or your company. Will they find an outdated negative newspaper article, an embarrassing court document or some other form of negative content? Or will they find the reputation you earned and deserve?
Explore our ORM solution page to see if we’re the right fit for you. We view reputation management as a lasting partnership to secure your legacy, and we take that responsibility very seriously.