Handling Negative Search Engine Listings

by John Eberhard

One of the perils of life today is that people can criticize you on the Internet.

So you hand out a business card to someone, or they hear an ad on the radio about your company, or they receive a direct mail piece or email about you. And they want to learn more about you. So they bring up their favorite search engine and enter your name or company name into the search bar.

What are they going to see on page one, two or three about you? Or about your company? Well unfortunately those listings aren’t always going to be what you would most like them to see.

So let’s say that you have a problem. Let’s say that when someone does a search using your name, or the name of your company or organization, page one has a number of listings that are negative about you or your company. Maybe most of them are negative. What can you do?

Well if there are listings that go to web pages that have actually false information about you, i.e. libel or slander, that’s a legal matter. You can legally force those people to take down false or slanderous information. I am not an expert in this area, but a letter from your lawyer to that person will probably go a long way. If this is your scenario, consult a lawyer.

But let’s say that the listings that appear when your name is searched aren’t libelous or slanderous per se, but they’re negative. So what can you do?

The basic handling for this type of situation is to put up lots of content on the web, that will rank highly when someone searches your name or company name. The idea being that these new listings will rise to the top and push all of that garbage down in the listings and off of page one.

The Handling

So here is the “Overwhelm the Garbage” program. Some call this "reputation management."

a. Write press releases and submit them to multiple online PR sites. See my blog or my book for advice on how to write press releases for online PR sites. These sites tend to rank highly on the search engines, so your press releases will tend to appear on pages 1, 2, or 3 when you search your name or company name.

b. Create social media accounts for the entity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. On Facebook start a personal profile and if for a business, put up a Facebook fan page. Your listings on these sites tend also to rank highly in the search engines. It also helps if you are putting up status updates on the sites regularly.

c. If it is a local business you can put up listings on Google Places and other local directory type sites like Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Hotfrog, Yelp, Insider Pages, Merchant Circle and others. There are dozens of sites like this and they all tend to rank pretty well.

d. Get videos produced about your company and post them on YourTube.

e. I have gotten good results by putting up multiple web sites, each with specific purposes related to my company. For instance, I have an articles blog on a separate domain, another blog that is just for press releases about my company, and another blog that is for press releases about my clients. I have put up several web sites and blogs for my political commentary.

c. Start multiple blogs and post items to them regularly. Include free blogs like www.blogger.com, www.blog.com, www.posterous.com, and others. When you post things there, include links in the articles linking back to your main site.

d. Write articles and post these to article directory sites. These tend to not rank as highly as some of the items above, but they’re great for volume.

This is a bit of work but it is an extremely effective program. I have done this program for myself and for one client. The client had quite a few negatives and now has none on the first five pages of Google.

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