Negative Search Results: How to Remove and Suppress Them
Every company runs the risk of having negative news articles written about them. This can destroy their reputation in one fell swoop. It’s no wonder that brands have such a focus on reputation management today. People who search for your company or name are more likely to click on a negative article than a positive one. This means that negative links feature higher in the search results. If your company wants to remove negative search results, how do you go about it?
Remove negative content altogether
The first step is to remove negative content altogether, so it no longer appears in the search results. This is often easier said than done. Here are some methods that may be effective in online reputation management.
Request the content be removed from Google
On the Google website, there is a form you can fill in to request that content be removed. If content doesn’t follow Google’s content policies, it may be taken down. For example, offensive videos go against its policies. Other reasons it may be taken down would be an infringement of copyright or a trademark being used in a way that’s confusing. Google will investigate, but it’s quite rare that it removes content.
Contact the platform about a guideline violation
Various platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, have their own guidelines about what kind of content is acceptable. If you know their guidelines, you can assess whether there are any grounds for them to remove negative content. If a negative YouTube video uses any copyright content, this violates YouTube’s guidelines, and you could request its removal.
Ask news publications to remove articles
You can request that a news publication take down a negative article, but they are often reluctant to do so because the clicks and engagement news publications from negative articles can be lucrative for them. Some publications have strict ‘no unpublishing’ rules. Appealing directly to the author of an article is also unlikely to yield positive results unless you have evidence that the facts in the article are incorrect. If you can dispute the facts, the author may take down the content or at least amend the article.
Suppress negative content
By the time you manage to remove negative content, it may already have damaged your online reputation. Another option to minimize the damage is search engine suppression. It’s proactive, time-sensitive and can be very effective. What you basically have to do is to get positive content to outrank the negative articles in the search results. If a negative article is pushed off the first page and onto page two, people are far less likely to read it.
Optimize owned content
The content you own includes your web pages, landing pages, blogs and social media accounts. If you optimize them, you can help them to rank higher. You should start with pages that rank just below the negative content and target the keywords people use to search for that content.
On-page optimization helps to target the core keyword you want to rank for and involves using it in various places such as the title, page heading and several times throughout the content. Adding more valuable information to the page and linking it internally also carries weight. Ensure content has relevant images with optimized file names and alt text.
Create backlinks from owned assets
In Google’s algorithm, links within your content to other pages are like ‘votes,’ and generally, the more you get, the higher its chances of ranking. You need to find opportunities to get links from high-ranking pages to give your content more authority.
Create social media profiles
The next step is to create social media profiles, especially if you want to rank for keywords that exactly match your company name. Social media platforms have authority and rank well. Google will rank your new pages by your brand and core keywords. When a user searches for your company name, your social profiles often show up on Google.
Optimize for Google featured snippets
Google’s featured snippets are the text excerpts you see above the Google search results. They are there to give users quick answers to their search queries. If the search result for your core keyword shows a featured snippet, this is a great way to bump down negative search results. The snippet tells a story without users having to click on a single result. If you appear in the first result, you have control over the narrative.
Find opportunities to contribute to third-party sites
Contributing to authoritative third-party sites can establish new content that ranks above negative search results. Interviews, guest blogs etc., are great digital assets that contribute towards ranking for your core keyword. For example, blogging on a platform like Medium can result in your author pages ranking well for your target keywords.