We’ve all made that expression of frustration one time or another – or several times, if you’re a fledging Internet marketer, small business owner, or SEO professional. Indeed, it seems it can’t be helped that a negative search result about you will appear on Google every so often: a bad customer review, the ranting blog post of a bitter ex-employee, or some form of bad publicity embodied in a 140-character tweet.
The worst part? It’s right there on Page 1 or 2 or 3 of the SERPs. You can’t really do anything about that link or search result that may potentially inflict damage on your brand or business. You can’t really delete it.
Or can you?
Best practices in online reputation management can go a long way in protecting – and enhancing – your presence online. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who think that Google, Bing, and Yahoo! – well, okay, not Yahoo – own and run the entire Internet. But that’s not really the case. If anything, these search engines are simply “crawlers” of websites – not referees. The Webmaster is the referee. And it can certainly be said that when it comes to the World Wide Web, a foul is not a foul until the referee blows his whistle.
As for Google and the rest of the search engines? Well, they’ll rarely remove content that isn’t illegal.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot remove – or at least push down to Page 6268 of the SERPs – negative Google search results about you, your business, or your brand. In fact, there are services and packages that enable you to do just that. Let’s check some of them out
Google Webmaster Tools
Included in Google Webmaster Tools is a list of recommended procedures that you can follow if you want to report content that you think warrants – based on applicable laws – removal from Google’s search results. The process begins with a content removal form, which, I hasten to add, does not guarantee that whistles will be blown.
What it does do is expedite the process of removing content that you own – but which you don’t want appearing on Google’s results – and of removing cached copies of Web pages that have changed or been taken down. This – as any SEO rock star and online reputation management professional will tell you – has a certain usefulness, especially if you’re re-launching your brand or your business and urgently need the Web to rid itself of that ancient logo or your back-in-the-day DIY blog. Of course, search engines crawl sites regularly (dropping outdated or deleted pages out of the Google index), but if it’s not happening fast enough for you, you can always opt to use the Google content removal tool.
If you, however, don’t own the website from which you want content removed, then Google advises getting in touch with the Webmaster, and asking him or her – nicely, of course – to consider your removal request. Google notes:
“It bears repeating: The site owner—whether it’s you or somebody else—must have first made the required changes to the site, or this process will not work to remove the content from search results. The site owner will be able to see your removal request in their own Webmaster Tools account.”
Other unique situations that you can address by directly reporting content to Google include:
- The appearance of your social security, government ID number, bank account, credit card, and other personal financial information on Google’s search results
- The appearance of an image of your handwritten signature on Google’s search results
- The appearance of your personal or business name on an adult content site spamming Google’s search results
Did you just go through a major PR crisis? Or are you a Hollywood celebrity rocked by a scandal that’s spreading virally on the Internet?
We understand that Google Webmaster tools may not be enough. In this case, you might want to check out Reputation Defender by Reputation.com, which is part of a full suite of products designed to protect your privacy online, promote your positive side, and enhance your reputation on the Web.
Reputation Defender starts at $129 a year, and works by suppressing negative content online and giving you the search engine results you want. It combines state-of-the-art SEO and online reputation management features, plus the talent of professional copywriters, who create bios for you, to be distributed online upon your approval. The Reputation Defender product is designed for businesses, but anyone who wants to combat false, misleading or irrelevant Google results can use it.
Reputation.com also has the MyPrivacy package, which starts at $8.25 a month and finds and removes personal information from websites that sell it. It works specifically by blocking the release of your information from (sometimes very creepy) people-search websites like Spokeo, PeopleFinders, and PeopleSmart, among many others.
DeleteMe, by online privacy company Abine, Inc., is a list of online monitoring and deletion services that you can customize according to what your needs are. There are lots of options available – the whole premise being, you tell them what you want to delete.
- Complete deletion of personal information from online accounts, social networks, profiles, videos, blogs, pictures, message boards, and search results.
- “Cleaning up” of online personal information found in the above kinds of websites and content
- Removal of individual items from Google, Bing, and Yahoo search, Blogger posts, YouTube videos, MerchantCircle or Yelp reviews, online databases, Spokeo, MyLife.com, and other people-search sites
- Removal of copyrighted work and online articles about you
- Control of the use of personal information with Microsoft, CVS, Comcast, Wachovia, AT&T, Walgreens, credit card offers, Rite Aid, Verizon, and other related services to which you have submitted personal information
The services are pretty extensive, but in case you need an extra level of protection and monitoring, subscription to the DeleteMe AlwaysOn privacy service is also available at $8.25 a month. What it does is monitor the Internet for you, search for any personal information of yours that is publicly available online, send you customized reports detailing the current status of your online privacy, and remove info that you do not want others to see.
Abine also offers privacy freebies such as cookie-blocking browser add-ons, online privacy guides, and excellent apps that protect you from the Web’s vultures of personal information.
Positive Search Results
Sometimes all it takes to counteract negative information and Google search results is to distribute useful, positive information. This is what Positive Search Results does: provide online reputation management solutions to executives, individuals, businesses, high-profile celebrities, athletes, and anyone else who might need a little image fix.
The company lists common problem sites from which it can help you remove negative content, and offers solutions in managing information about you that may be found in:
- Forum posts
- News links
- Consumer reports
- Blog posts
- Blog comments
- Newspaper archives
- MySpace and Facebook profiles
- Video posts
Like Positive Search Results, Remove Your Name dedicates its online reputation management solutions to Internet users who want their negative results off Google search. Its packages are catered to personal users and businesses, with features that include:
- Your personal account manager
- Negative information analysis
- Custom content creation
- Working with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and AOL
- Guaranteed positive pages
- Accelerated results
- SEO features
- Optimized press releases
- Removal of reviews, complaints, and negative info from the Ripoff Report (a potentially very damaging website)
- E-mail and phone support
The prices and packages vary: Personal Basic, for example, removes negative information from the first page of a Google SERP, while Personal Advanced can delete negative information from Pages 1 to 3 of Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and AOL search results.
Need to learn more about online reputation management, search engine marketing, and search engine optimization? Well, make your visit to our site worthwhile. Leave a comment below or contact us. We at Lakeshore Branding are looking forward to hearing from you!