You’ve spent a lifetime earning your reputation. Then, it’s tarnished in an instant because someone published a negative article about your business or one of its executives. Despite your best efforts, this content is still lodged on the first page of Google. Maybe you’ve even worked with a reputation management service. But it just won’t go away.
To be honest, it’s extremely difficult to completely remove negative news articles from Google. Therefore, the best course of action is usually to bury negative content in the search engine results by displacing it with positive content that better represents you or your company.
Why negative news articles rank well in Google results
You’ve probably noticed that some negative news stories get a lot of air time on Google. There are several reasons for this.
News articles are timely and trending
When it comes to news, Google’s algorithm favors timely content. So, the more recently a story was published, the more likely it is to appear at the top of your results. Furthermore, a trending negative news story could find a home in highly-visible SERP features like news carousels or interesting finds.
Syndicated articles increase topic Density
Google has evolved way past keyword matching at this point. The search algorithm understands content and creates associations between different entities. For example, if you do an image search for the term “idiot,” who does Google return photos of? It’s not that Google’s algorithm believes that Donald Trump is an idiot. What’s really happening is that millions of pieces of content in Google’s index refer to Trump as such, thereby strengthening that association for Google.
So, if a high-profile newspaper or blogger writes a negative article about your brand, it’s likely that other media sources could syndicate the content or write their own article about the topic. If the vast majority of your online brand mentions discuss the same unfavorable event, then Google will feature more articles that demonstrate that association.
People click on negative articles
Finally, researchers have identified a psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias. This phenomenon drives many people to fixate on negative news stories to protect themselves from risk. Because people are often compelled to seek out unfavorable information, negative news articles often get more clicks than positive content. Over time, Google may begin to favor the search results that earn more clicks by ranking them higher.
Remember, Google doesn’t care if content is good or bad. It’s simply trying to help people find what they are looking for, for better or for worse.
The longer unfavorable content remains in your search results, the greater the reputational risk is for your business. So, it’s critical to learn how to remove negative newspaper articles from the web.
Why remove news articles from Google
There is great value in owning your narrative in the SERPs. Negative links about your brand or executive team influence the public’s opinion of your business for years. Bad news doesn’t just damage brand reputation, it also hurts sales, hiring, and strategic partnerships. Just look at these reputation management statistics:
Corporate Reputation Statistics
- 43% of executives believe reducing unfavorable search results would increase sales
- 69% of job-seekers won’t apply to companies with online reputation issues.
- 41% of companies have reported loss of revenue from a reputation-related event.
Furthermore, according to a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, 54% of executives think reducing unfavorable search results would drive revenue growth. Read the full study here.
Below are two case studies that highlight the fiscal impact of a strong online reputation. Burying negative news articles is just one component of a multi-faceted approach to fostering positive brand sentiment online.
Case study 1: National retailer
A national furniture and mattress retailer enlisted our help to handle multiple, negative links on the first page of Google for their company name. Their combined monthly volume of these branded searches exceeded 300,000 queries per month.
We custom-built an aggressive, holistic, reputation management strategy for the customer. Our solution leveraged a combination of content production, competitive insight, technical SEO, and strategic outreach to recraft the virtual brand image of this company. Using this strategy, Terakeet was able to improve this retailer’s click-through rate on favorable content by great than 455 percent. We also flipped Google page one for brand name searches to 100% preferred content.
The result? They realized an increase of $32.7 million in monthly revenue. Read the study.
Case study 2: Fortune 500 CEO
A Fortune 500 CEO faced overwhelmingly negative results on page one of Google. Positions 1, 3, and 5 were all undesirable content. Overall, 12 major news sites published critical stories that spanned the first five pages of Google.
The CEO’s name was being searched more than 14,000 times per month, and they felt the search landscape did not accurately represent their character. Furthermore, the negative articles were based on claims by someone who later admitted their story wasn’t accurate. In addition, an in-depth investigation found there was zero evidence to support the original allegations. The CEO asked us to shift the one-sided narrative being told in the SERPs.
The result? We flipped the first five pages of Google search results from 12 negative listings to zero negative listings. We also reduced the number of clicks to undesirable content each month from 8,400 to zero. Read the study.
How to get a news article removed from Google: the unpublishing method
One means of removing articles from Google is the unpublishing method. This approach involves making a removal request directly to the webmaster, the author, or the publisher.
However, there are a few things you need to know about the unpublishing method before we begin to break it down. It’s not only time consuming, it also requires a nuanced understanding of the publishing industry and the editorial process. It’s important to take an extremely methodical, gentle approach to contacting the owners of these stories.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, contacting the publishers or writers of negative newspaper articles can do more harm than good. So use extreme caution.
Newspaper publishers view themselves as stewards of essential, historical documents. They rarely entertain requests to remove articles from news publications just because the subject views it as unfavorable.
Your chances of unpublishing content are better if there are factual inaccuracies or sensitive personal information that could bring you physical or financial harm.
Here are the steps to remove negative news articles by contacting publishers:
- Call the news agency and work your way up the chain of command until you have the right person. You want to speak with the individual responsible for greenlighting each article.
- Be polite. Publishers often take tons of abuse from disgruntled readers and subjects. Even if the person you are speaking with is cold and impersonal, it’s always best to be considerate and kind.
- Voice messages often go unanswered due to the volume of tips new outlets receive. So, it’s usually best to follow up by email instead. Be persistent, but remain polite.
- Do not attempt to intimidate a publisher through legal threats or court orders. This will only make matters worse for you should the story get out of your intent to influence.
It is highly unlikely that a publisher will remove negative news articles at your behest. In fact, it is so rare that a large publisher removes an article, it often makes the news when they decide to do so — which could turn a single post into a viral news cycle.
Contact the author
It’s still extremely rare, but sometimes you may have better luck reaching out to the author of the piece. The success rate for this type of request varies, but the author may be willing to delete the piece.
Here’s how to remove negative articles from Google by contacting the author:
- Check the byline to make sure you have the correct writer
- Reach out by phone first, but don’t leave a message. Voicemail is often ignored by the writer due to time constraints
- Follow-up with a polite email detailing the inaccuracies and provide proof to support your claim
- Be persistent, but don’t be aggressive
Journalists at smaller publications may be able to field more calls and emails than writers at big news agencies. Therefore, if you’re dealing with a local newspaper article, you may have better luck reaching the writer by phone. Personal touches can also help in these circumstances. But if things don’t go your way, you’ll want to carefully consider if this is the right battle to pick.
Remember, this is a time-consuming process with very few favorable outcomes. The best approach is usually to let a reputation management company handle these negative search results so you can focus on your life and your business.
How to get a news article removed from the internet
If by some small chance a publisher deletes the article, it could still remain in your search results for months — or longer. That’s because search engines crawl and index content to display when users ask for it. If Google never revisits the URL after it was removed, the original result will remain in its index, and therefore in your search results.
The only way to guarantee complete removal from the internet is to remove articles from Google’s index so they don’t show up in searches at all.
Fortunately, Google will honor removal requests for outdated content as well as some personal information. But, there are very strict guidelines surrounding what Google will or will not delete. For more information about which web pages and content Google will de-index, read our other post about how to remove search results from Google.
Instances when publishers won’t remove news articles
There are some types of bad press and content that publishers will often flat-out refuse to remove, like:
- Articles and press releases reporting on a crime or conviction
- Articles about the financial state of a business or its executives
- Truthful negative reviews of products and services
- Factual articles about the personal lives of executives
These types of stories are so rarely removed, it’s truly not worth wasting time on these efforts.
As you can see, removing negative news articles from Google requires a massive amount of effort and expertise. If you’ve tried unpublishing and removing the negative information from the Google index with no success, it’s time to contact online reputation repair experts.
How we suppress negative news articles in Google with reputation management
If content removal services don’t erase bad links from Google, how does reputation management actually work?
In order to push down negative search results, first you need to establish a credible online reputation. Then, leverage search engine optimization best practices to lift up positive content to outrank the unfavorable content. If you do one without the other, the results won’t last.
Our goal is to make negative news articles about your brand irrelevant to Google. We also protect against future brand-damaging news cycles and help you manage a strong, online brand.
Strategically rebuild your online reputation
We don’t use cheap smokescreen tactics like creating duplicate identities. That confuses Google and degrades your true identity. Instead, we strategically rebuild your online presence through analysis, diversification, content creation, and holistic SEO. As a result, brand-endearing results surge to the first page of Google, forcing defamatory content to recede deeper into your search landscape.
Some of the many strategies we deploy include:
- Setting up social media profiles
- Maintaining active accounts
- Setting up a domain in your name
- Starting up a blog
- Optimizing your content
- Earning brand mentions
- Showcasing your expertise
- Building brand mentions
- Monitoring for reputation risks
There are other steps to managing your online reputation, but this should show you just how much effort and time it takes to create a positive search landscape for you and your brand.
Own your search landscape for the long term
It’s true that one critical story can have a massive impact on your reputation. However, focusing solely on removing negative news articles and bad reviews leaves gaps in the search landscape where you can really own your narrative.
Fostering positive brand sentiment requires a delicate balance between protecting your reputation against threats, and building up favorable content across the SERPs that you can be proud of. It takes time to deploy these strategies and establish an online reputation that accurately reflects your story.
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