How do you Remove Negative Search Results?
This is the most frequently asked question with online reputation management and is something I am always happy to help with.
Someone always has something bad that has been said about them and quite often, it is preventing them from getting on with life. This is never a nice situation to be in as it can cause stress, anxiety, worry and is often a source of embarrassment – but it doesn’t need to be.
Poor reviews, negative search results, bad press or just unfair feedback – these can be a nightmare for any company, but aren’t something you can always just request to be deleted – especially from Search Engines!
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Of course, I can help you with this, but if you want to remove negative search results from Google yourself, then there are some steps that you can take. It can often take many months, but is always worthwhile.
11 Steps to Bury Negative Search Results
Before any activity, you need to know what you are dealing with. As much as you might not enjoy doing this, knowing just how far reaching any negative press has gone is the first step in knowing what you need to do and how much activity you will need to engage in.
Know which keywords you need to target in your content. If you were to miss this step out, then you may end up targeting keywords that are not directly associated with the negative search results. Using a tool like SEMRush will aid you in your keyword research. However, if it is just your name or brand, then this can make the job a lot easier for you.
Depending on your issue, this can be an imperative campaign element.
This step can be a little tricky sometimes because you might have a need to create a fictional person with the same name (quite common) so you will need to get this down on paper first. It might be that just the one persona is enough, but you will need to get this character to login through a different IP address throughout the duration of the campaign. This person will have the same name as you, but will be very different. Some ideas are:
- What industry will they work in
- How old are they
- What are their hobbies
This bit can take a little planning because if you are using a fake persona, you want to have every little detail down.
From personal name to brand variations, these will feature on the first page. Think about the negative results that are causing issue. Are there .com, .co.uk, .net. org, etc., that you can register? You will want to be creative in how these are used so registering the primary ones now will give you the options of what to do as you progress. Remember to create these through the persona and set them up as such.
This is one of the most important steps, so never cut corners. Content is going to be a primary way that you will start to take control of the 1st page of Google and affects everything from your social activity to your website quality.
There are hundreds of sites out there, so start registering them, even if they wont all get used. If you think you are going to need to use fake personas, then you might need to register these from a different IP address, but this goes far beyond just social accounts like Facebook and Twitter. You might want to look at creating a WIX site or WordPress as these can be a great way to get additional free domains into your portfolio.
Google loves content, so work extra hard to make this amazing. The better your content, the more chances of it being shared through your new social channel which can lead to more potential site links. As you are probably aware, Google loves amazing content so look at what is winning when related to your new industry and make it better. Further down you will want to do some link building, so keep this in mind at this stage. The better this is, the better than chances of it really working for you. If you aren’t amazing at writing, hire a writer to do the job for you.
Social Media is where you will be making new friends and sharing your new content. This is the same as any other social account you set up – you spend time researching people and becoming acquaintances. If you just try to spam people with your content, they will just dismiss it. Find a reason to strike up a conversation and naturally they will be more open to any new content you publish.
This can either be fun or hugely time-consuming, depending if you enjoy it or not. A new website can take time to produce, but thankfully with WordPress, it is pretty easy to do. Decide what the content on the websites is going to be, and start publishing. Once again, if you don’t have the knowledge or time to do this, there are people who will create you a whole new website on your domain for under $500. Remember that this website is going to be about your new persona.
The backbone to any website, backlinks will push new sites up through Google. This can be tricky if you have never built links before because there are many ways to achieve this. I can’t go into them all here, but if you are OK with this element, then it will help your sites to rank more quickly in Google. They will also help keep the negativity away from that 1st spot on Google.
At this point you have completed your first pass. How has it gone? You should very easily be able to track the sites and keywords where you are creating new content and sites and see where they are ranking when checked against your primary search terms. This will also tell you which stages you should be running again.
There are always steps here you can change around a little bit, but for the most part, this keeps things easy for you.
Drowning out the noise
If someone is using negativity towards you, then you fight back with positivity. There is no need to put you or your business at risk and this technique doesn’t breach the TOS in any search engine.
By creating articles, videos, reviews, listings, Social Media and profiles from a wide range of trusted sites, you effectively ‘take over’ what is causing negativity. I will then promote other positive mentions from 3rd party sites to help bump them up while replacing those that need burying.
Before you try to fix any negative press…
The first thought when seeing negative results might be to contact the site / individual in question. Best intentions here have been known to go horribly wrong and turn a small issue into a huge problem. Contact depends greatly upon their reasons for this negativity.
Never offer to pay for it to be removed or use any threatening language. This will only exacerbate any issues.
Before starting out, remember that unless there is a legal reason, the site / individual in question doesn’t have to remove negative comments. It can often seem very unfair, but you are likely dealing with a sensitive issue, so diving in with insults or strong language will only make things worse.
If we are dealing with a product that has launched but now has a string of unhappy customers, deal with this head on. Don’t be confrontational; offer to look into matters and give assurances where necessary, but don’t set yourself up for anything unrealistic. Just remember, if you have a lot of unhappy people, they will become more unhappy if they think you are ignoring the issue. This is especially the case on forums where others can join in.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Look to create a structure for damage limitation. You don’t want the same problem to keep recurring.
Past negative experiences don’t necessarily need to be something that hangs over your head. You can use these as an opportunity to ensure they don’t happen again by taking a proactive approach to customer satisfaction
Make sure contact with you is easy
A pet hate for lots of people, is not being able to get hold of a person or supplier easily if they wish to give you feedback.
By creating a simple feedback button on each page, you are then inviting others to air concerns directly with you, rather than on pages that can easily be seen by the search engines.
This is how a lot of negative press starts. However, this would be a pointless exercise if you had no intention of addressing concerns of others, so make sure you hop on these as soon as they come through.
Answer questions on your website
By taking a proactive stance, you will answer questions and concerns before anyone either needs to make contact, or take their worries to an online platform.
An FAQ can often be a huge help in situations like this by answering questions others have asked in the past. It gives you the ability to nip any issues in the bud, but make it easy to find.
There is no point in having a fantastic resource like this and then burying it as a single link in a page that no-one is likely to visit.