• Dealing with negative search results

    Dealing with negative search results

    You can be sure that potential customers, potential funders and people you give your business card to are probably going to 'Google' you. If they return some negative results about you or your company, it can potentially be off-putting and damaging to your reputation.

    I've been asked a few times recently how companies can ‘get rid' of negative articles appearing in search results. (And when we say search, we're talking about Google, right?)

    One person (a small business owner) told me that one particular article was doing real damage to his business. It was ranking highly in Google search, and, he felt, it was putting off potential customers. He was under the impression that there was nothing he could do about it and he just had to live with it.

    But there are things that can be done.

    If the content is appearing on a credible news site, it's worth looking at whether you have good legal or accuracy grounds for asking the media organisation to remove the content. If you have good grounds to ask for its removal, then do so (or ask a media relations professional to do this on your behalf).

    You can also ask Google to remove content from search if you believe there are sound legal reasons. You can ask via a tool found at Google Support.

    If you don't have good grounds for asking for removal, don't give up hope, there are things you can do to help deal with the problem.

    For starters, you can ensure that you have good content of your own online to try to push the negative result down the rankings, or at least to soften some of the impact by contextualising it with lots of positive results. Don't forget that most people don't look beyond the first Google page. And some don't even look past the first few results.

    This high-ranking content should include a good website in your company's name, social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube etc), and might include a blog (platforms like Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr are good).

    If the content is an article on a high-traffic news site, you should try to get newer, more positive content in your name onto high-traffic news websites, particularly the one that is carrying the negative story. Generally, Google only seems to carry one result for each domain name per page. So if you can get a newer, better article carrying your company name on the same site, it just may be the one that appears in the first page of the search results, rather than the negative article. First person, opinion type articles that carry a by-line and a short biography at the end seem to work well.

    You need to protect your company's reputation, and that means knowing what's online about you. So a regular Google search is important. If you find something you're not happy with, do something about it!

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