Fixing a Negative Google Search Result

Even if you’ve gotten your Google diagnosis, setup your basic presence for Google and used our advanced SEO techniques to raise them to the top, sometimes it’s just not enough. This part of the guide is meant to provide effective tactics for people who have negative or unflattering content on the first page of their results.

Bad Results Can Happen to Good People:

While this section may seem like it’s only relevant to politicians or criminals, negative content is something that can happen to anyone. All it takes is one bad blog post or status update from a pissed off ex, one disgruntled former client or employee, or one photo tagged in bad judgment after a night out with a friend. The point is, bad results can happen to good people, and this guide is meant to walk you through the emergency tactics you can use to salvage your reputation.

Here’s what to do when negative results show up when you Google yourself:

Option 1: Get it Taken Down

This option is often the first step people take. In some cases it’s worth it to try and have the content removed (although there are a few issues with this route which we’ll discuss later on). If choose this route, there’s a few steps you can take:

  • Ask to have it removed: Find the source of the person who posted the content (article author, social media account owner, website owner, etc.) and approach them about having it taken down. If you approach the owner professionally and explain why you need the content to be taken down, they may oblige. If politeness doesn’t work, go the hardball approach and explain that the content is defamatory and will take any necessary actions, if need be. And cue the necessary actions
  • Submit a legal complain to Google It is very difficult to have Google remove content from its search results, but it can be done. If the content is defamatory or contains personal information such as your social security number or credit card information, you can file the legal complaint.
  • Have the the website removed: Find out the company who hosts the site (try whois.net) and look up their Terms of Service Agreement. If the site is in violation of the agreement, you can file a formal complaint to the company.

These methods can frequently prove time-consuming, frustrating and, at times, expensive. And what’s worse, at the end of the day, they may not even work:

  • The person who posted it doesn’t have to take it down: Even if you ask nicely, the person doesn’t have to take it down. Chances are there’s a reason the other person put it up in the first place, and they have no intention of removing it. If you do decide to take legal action, it can prove to be a long, drawn-out process that is difficult to undertake – The Internet is like the Wild West when it comes to content.
  • The result is always archived: Secondly, even if the persona does remove the content, that doesn’t necessarily remove it from search engines. Search engines archive (or cache) search results. This means the result still frequently shows up and people can read about the content right from the result page in Google.

Option 2: Bury It

This exemplifies the main concept of this guide: raise positive content higher in search engines, essentially burying content farther down the page. While this doesn’t technically remove it from search engines, it does drastically decrease the chances someone searching for you finds it. In fact, 93% of people don’t even go past the first page, and even if they do, they’ve just gone through an entire page of positive content that lets them know who you really are. This means, you don’t only need one or two results on the first page, you need enough to bury the other content. Here are the best ways to create high ranking content that will bury the negative result:

  1. Basic Tactics Make sure you have the basics covered that we discussed earlier in the guide before jumping to the more advanced tactics:
    • Create a basic on-line presence: This includes buying your domain name, building a personal website, creating social media profiles and joining on-line directories.
    • Make sure that content is search engine optimized: There are certain things you SEO tactics you can implement with your content to make sure they are as search engine friendly as possible, which we covered in parts 2 and 4.
  2. Additional Content That Shows Up High Sometimes, a well-optimized, basic on-line presence (as outlined above) is not enough to bury something off the first page. Depending on how high the unwanted results shows up and how credible it is, you may need to get as much high-ranking content on the first page as possible. Here are a few other creative ways you can quickly get content on the first page:
    • Throw a party and put the event on Meet-up: Yes, we’re serious! As we mentioned earlier in the series, you should create a personal profile on MeetUp–a place where people create and attend events–because Google ranks these profiles very high. Most people don’t realize Google often ranks events on meet-ups even higher than your profile there. Throw a party and make sure you:
      • Use your name in the event title “Patrick Ambron’s Party for New York City Entrepreneurs”.
      • Take the time to actually create a party people will want to attend and invite all your friends to RSVP on the event page. It might be a little investment, but the more people who are attending and linking to the page, the higher it will show up, so it’s well worth it (plus, its a great excuse to throw a party.)
    • Write a Press Release and release it on PR News-wires: Most people don’t realize they can use the same tools PR agencies use to automatically distribute press releases across the web. There are a handful of free news-wires, but if you are serious, we recommend shelling out $300 for PR News-wire, as it’s one of the most effective news-wires on the web.
      • You can write a press release about any life event–you graduated college, you started a new job, you just created a new website, anything. The point is, you want any positive content to show up higher than those negative results. Tip: Remember to include links to other places the person can find you on-line.
    • Comment on news articles: As you can imagine, any results coming from a domain like the NYTimes is considered highly credible by Google. Commenting on articles in places like these is an effective way to get a high ranking result. While they aren’t the best possible results about you, at least they aren’t negative. Make sure you link to your personal website, this way when someone finds it, you can direct them to more positive information.
    • Create profiles on your schools website, or local gov’t website (like the library): As we mentioned earlier, search engines consider .gov and .edu the most credible on the web, and rank them accordingly. If you want to get content on the first page quickly you should create as many profiles on .gov or .edu sites as possible. Here are some places that you can create .gov or .edu content:
      • Check Your Local Government: Browse every single website your local government offers, from town hall to the local library). There is a good chance there is some place that will allow you to create a profile, or comment on an article. For example, take a look at the website from this Library in Delaware.
      • Contact your alma mater: Check your college’s website to see if there is anywhere you can create a profile. Be creative. It might be in the intramurals section, or in some small on-campus group. You’re just looking for anywhere you can create a profile or result.
      • Write a guest blog post for your local government or local college: If all else fails, most government sites and college programs have blogs. Figure out an article you could write that would be relevant and reach out and offer to write it. For example, if a college has a program for your field, volunteer to write an advice piece
    • Write an article for a major blog or news site: This is an easy way to get a result on the first page. Contact your local newspaper and offer to write a piece on your expertise. There are also blogs that allow people to blog for free as long as the content is quality such as the Huffingtonpost.com and Examiner.com

Option 3: Bump It Off

While entirely possible, it’s obvious that burying something off the first page requires a lot of time. There is a little known, but very valuable piece of information when you find yourself in this situation that could save you a lot of time: Google only likes to rank one result on the first page per domain.

What does that mean? Let’s pretend someone wrote an op-ed bashing you in the Huffington Post, and it shows up as your number one result. It’s going to be a lot of work and a lot of time to get ten other results to rank higher than the Huffington Post and push it off the first page.

It would be easier if you simply bumped it off by replacing another result on the Huffington Post in your top ten. While this may seem like a tall order, you’d be surprised how easy it is to create a well optimized result on almost any domain.You just need to figure out how you can publish something on the site. For example, poking around the Huffington Post, you would realize they allow you to create your own profile on the site (huffingtonpost.com/myname). All you need to do is create a profile that is more relevant to your name than the bad article. A few things to remember when making your profile:

  • Include your full name: Make sure you use Your Name (i.e. John Smith) in the profile. This will be included in the URL and the title-tags, which is must if you want to beat the article
  • Fill it out with as much information as they let you: The more information you can include about yourself, the more relevant it will seem to Google. Remember, talk in the third person. You want Your Name to appear several times throughout the profile.
  • Link to as many other profiles as possible: As you’ve read in our SEO basics section, the more places that a profile links to about a certain keyword the higher it will rank. Link to other definitive sources about you–your website, your facebook, etc–and Google will value it more. Remember, use Your Name in the link text.
  • Keep that profile Active: Eventually the article will get old, which give your profile an edge. Keep commenting on the article and doing anything else that keeps your profile updated
  • Link to it and share it everywhere: If you’ve built a basic on-line presence, make sure you link to your profile from everywhere–personal website, social media, etc. The more links this profile has, the better chance it will outrank the negative article.

Please call us on 0871950631 or e-mail us on info@webcraft.ws to get more information on our Reputation Management Services.