Research shows that nearly 45% of people discover things online that change their minds about doing business with a company. Those things might be the result of defamation of character, bad reviews, negative articles, or something else. What Google’s first page says about your business is more important for your online reputation than your website or your business card.
So when your competitors create negative content about your company, and it starts showing up in search results on branded keywords, you need to get help.
There are only a couple of strategies to counter negative search results.
You can learn about the first strategy in detail here.
In this post, however, we'll focus on ways to remove the negative content from search results.
Getting the negative content about you or your company removed from Google search results is rarely simple. The content is not published on a site within your control.
If the negative content is published on a multi-author site where individual writers control their own content, you can take a slightly different approach by targeting the author.
Get your no-obligation expert analysis
You can use a simple email script like this:
“Hey [author name],
I hope you’re doing well.
I’m [your name], [your designation] at [you company name].
I’m a regular reader of your articles at [blog name] and I’ve always found value in your posts. So a big thank you for that.
However, in one of your recent posts you mentioned [state the inaccuracies in the post]. Not only is this incorrect, but it also gives our company a bad name.
[Article URL here]
So I’d request you to edit your article and remove the inaccurate information that I’ve just highlighted.
I’d be happy to discuss this in more detail if you have any questions.
I’d appreciate it if you can make this change ASAP.
[Company Name] "
Don’t be overly aggressive in your first email and see how the author responds. You can, of course, change this email script according to your requirements.
Note that some publications may not allow its contributors to edit or remove their posts after they've been published. In this case, you'll need to target the editor or publisher.
In case the author refuses to remove the negative post, doesn’t respond or tells you he can't remove it, you’ll have to contact the editor of the online publication. This is like "going up the food chain."
You can usually find the editors' contact information on the contact page. You can also approach them from the publication’s social media profiles. Again, politely explain your point and ask the editor to remove the content.
If the other two methods don’t work, you have the option to take legal action against the publication that has published negative, incorrect and defamatory content about your company.
If you go ahead with this approach, you’ll need to have documented evidence to prove your case. You might also need to seek professional legal assistance. So the costs can go up pretty quickly.
Oftentimes the more sensible approach, however, is to engage an online reputation management company that can handle all these things on your behalf, with its own ORM team.
In many cases, simply threatening the publication with legal action does the job. But it often makes the problem much worse. We have clients who have tried this on their own and experienced the Streisand Effect (you can read about that here). Essentially, the act of trying to get something removed using legal means draws attention to the problem, making it many times worse than it originally was.
Note: a lot of attorneys are our clients for this very reason.
Copyright infringement is different than defamation of character. If the negative search results about your company contain images or text content copied from your website or any other web properties, it can be reported to Google for copyright infringement.
It can be any content from your website, blog or social media profiles. A lawyer's help is strongly encouraged — we use them, too.
Google receives thousands of such complaints, so you need to be patient with this. They review each case separately and may seek further details from you. So make sure you have sufficient paperwork to support your claim.
Negative search results can badly hurt your reputation and credibility, which is why you need to take immediate steps to get them removed. The steps we've shared in this post should help you get started. At the same time, you also need to create positive content so that you can rank for your branded keywords once the negative results are removed.