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Reputation Management: Removing Negative Content

Whether you like it or not it is just a matter of time that something is going to be said about you or your business that you don’t like. It is too easy for people or even your competition to destroy your reputation. Whether it is a negative review, newspaper article, or complaint site, the effect of negative content can be devastating to a business’s reputation. Normally if you try to respond to a negative review or complaint site it only helps to make the search engine ranking of that page improved because you are adding to page’s content and freshness, making the page stronger. Even though, you may address the issue people coming to the page might not read what you wrote. Even worse they see the negative page in the search results and assume the worst and never do business with your company. This happens a lot with negative newspaper articles. The title of the articles are usually very one sided and shocking so that people will be intrigued to read the article. However, the article itself in order to be news worthy must show both sides of the story. The problem is, when this article shows up in the search results, it is only the shocking title that people see and the damage is done.

To repair a damaged reputation a SEO will often choose to bury it. I have written about ways that this can be done. However, burying an article can be expensive because it is like getting multiple top 20 rankings. So here are some ways to avoid the SEO battle and remove negative content for good.

1) Contact the site:
All web sites are owned by someone and that means that there is a person that can be contacted who has control over the content that appears on the site. A written appeal stating your case sometimes works to get the site owner to pull the page. Also, if you want to play had ball you can remind them that they are entitled to free speech but not slander. The US First amendment protects against libel and the site owner is responsible for the content if it appears on their site whether they wrote it or not. Sometimes drafting a legal looking letter can hammer this point home. If the site doesn’t post contact information then use the whois information about the URL to get the contact information.

2) Contact the ISP?:
Just like the site owner bears responsibility about their site, the hosting company must be responsible about the sites they host. You can actually get sites completely removed by a strong letter to the hosting company. Must hosts will simply remove the offending site rather than deal with any potential legal actions. The host information is also contained in the whois information of a web site.

3) Contact Google:
Google allows people to request the removal of content. You can do so by following the steps located at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1663688

If you try all of things and still have problems, call me and I’ll bury the crap out of the offending negative content :)

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