I had a client who was a C celebrity, not even cutting it to the B level. He went through an ugly divorce, and his ex-wife ran his name through the mud. Unfortunately, the mudslinging by his ex-wife made it onto a bunch of online publications. This resulted in many negative posts that appeared on the 1st page of Google if you searched his name. He was a consultant, and this was not good for business. If clients or potential clients happened to Google his name, the results would probably scare them away, or at least make them take a pause on his character.
He came to me and asked what he should do. First, I told him to reach out to the website owners where his ex-wife’s content was published and ask them to take it down. Some site owners understand that a person’s life can be ruined and might have enough integrity to take down the content. However, he was somewhat of a celebrity so some website owners may take them down for a hefty fee. Still, it’s always good to try and reach out first. That move may get rid of the harmful content immediately and improve your problem.
Unfortunately, many website owners are located in places that you couldn’t find on Google Earth. Trying to get any response from them may be near impossible. That’s only if you were able to find their contact information to start. Also, this anonymity makes it hard to try to take any legal action to get the content removed.
So what can he do? This is where Online Reputation Management (ORM) comes into play. It would be great if you can contact Google and ask them to remove the negative content out of their index. Yes, and I want World Peace, both aren’t going to happen anytime soon. The next best thing is to kill Google with kindness. What I mean is creating a ton of positive content that floods Google’s index.
The content concoction consisted of press releases, web 2.0 blog posts, article postings and updated social media profiles on the client. As Google is flooded with positive, fresh, content, it will start moving the new stuff to the 1st page of search results. The new content will push the damaging content on to Pages 2,3,4 and beyond. Then, you will have successfully pushed the bad content out of sight.
However, the content is still in the Google results but just pushed to deeper pages. That’s correct but we are lucky that most Internet users don’t go very far in their search results. If you can move the harmful content to Page 4 and beyond, you have a 99% chance of it never being seen again.
According to Chitika Online Advertising Network, 91.5% of Internet users only look through the 1st page of Google search results. Then about 5% will look as far as the second page and 1.1% goes on to the 3rd page of search results. After that, you will probably have the occasional student doing research for a paper that will travel any further.
As you can see, you can create enough positive content, and the bad content will be buried for good. This protects your reputation, and it starts a great foundation to control your brand online.
In conclusion, a disgruntled employee, bitter ex or someone who just has an ax to grind can target you online. It’s always good to reach out to the website owners that have the defaming content and ask them to remove it. However, your best bet is to create a proactive branding campaign with tons of positive content. Once the new content gets indexed, it will bury the negative content to the back pages. In my next post, I will discuss taking Online Reputation Management to the next level by building up your brand.