When you are trying to bury and push down a negative Google result, branding basics just won’t cut it. You need to give your campaign a little extra juice when attempting to bury a well-optimized negative search result with a lot of domain authority.
This post discusses potential tactics for people who have negative or unflattering content on the first page of their Google search results. When you’re done, we also recommend that you read our Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management for more in-depth tips and tricks. Arming yourself with as many options as possible is crucial when building a successful personal brand online.
Bad Search Results Can Happen to Good People
While the internet and social media have created an accessible platform for anyone with an internet connection, there is a downside. All it takes is one bad blog post or status update from an angry ex, disgruntled former client, employee – OR EVEN YOU to ruin your career. Even a questionable photo can wreck an otherwise pristine reputation. Bad results happen to good people all the time. So what can you do to fix your reputation if this happens to you?
Option 1. Get the negative search result taken down.
If you need to bury negative Google search results, in some cases, you can, get the negative search result taken down directly. Remember, this won’t work in every case, but in some it is step one to building an effective personal brand online. There can be serious downsides to removal requests, so ask yourself these questions first:
- Did you post the content? Does this negative search result stem from a blog post, tweet, status update, etc that you posted? Or does it come from an account that you control or have access to? If so, DELETE IT! You don’t need to bury Google results if you control them. Remove everything associated with this content that you possibly can. While there is still a chance that content could appear elsewhere (screenshots/cached searches, uploaded on other sites or profiles, etc), start by removing anything you can.
- Did your friend post this content? Did your friend post something about you that could hurt your professional, academic or personal opportunities? If so, just ask them to take it down. As mentioned above, this could still resurface elsewhere, but this is a great first step. And try to push for full removal. For example, if your friend just de-tags you from something, your image is still associated with whatever is potentially damaging.
- Did an acquaintance or someone you’re on good terms with post this? Feel free to reach out to this person as you would a friend. Just be polite and explain the situation logically. If someone isn’t focused on their own personal brand, (or has different boundaries than you do) they may be oblivious to how this content can negatively affect your personal reputation.
- Would The “Right to be Forgotten” apply to this scenario? If you live in the E.U.or Argentina, check if this content falls within the standards of removal based on Google’s Right to be Forgotten.
- Does this content fit Google’s standards for Takedown Requests? If you’re based in the US, look up Google’s legal causes for removal, and follow the steps necessary for submission.
While a “YES” to the questions above bodes well if you want to remove or bury negative Google results, keep in mind, you’re not necessarily in the clear. The search result is still archived. If you are lucky enough to have your content removed through emailing the webmaster directly, filling out a request form or through legal channels, it’s still likely that the negative search result will be archived somewhere and continue to show up when your name is searched.
There are a few more questions you still should ask yourself in your takedown request. Unfortunately, if you answer “YES” to any of the questions below – you should focus your energy elsewhere while attempting to improve your personal brand.
- Is the owner of this content anonymous or spiteful? It would be great if you could just email someone and they would immediately remove this negative content, no questions asked. That’s obviously the ideal situation, and while it is possible to get content removed, there are some known risks and issues associated with taking this route. If you’re dealing with an anonymous or spiteful troll, then proceed with caution. Asking this kind of person to remove the offending may not go as planned. There is always the chance that the owner not only refuses to take the content down… but could make the situation worse for you. Depending on the particular circumstances regarding your negative results, if you are dealing with somebody who has it out for you, there is always the chance that this person will choose to make it worse for you by becoming even more active and retaliate against you online. We have seen this happen many times, so it’s a smart idea to take a moment and analyze the situation. Sometimes it’s better left alone when it comes to contacting the site owner, and spending your time on other strategies to bury negative Google results.
- Is the owner of this content a government website or news outlet? If you’re dealing with a government site, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get documents that are of public record removed. However, you should feel free to do a bit of digging on the government website (or by calling them) to see if there are any processes in place to maintain your privacy. And when it comes to dealing with a news outlet – if something is factually inaccurate, you can of course email them to write a retraction or correction. However, that may just give even more authority to a link or story that already looks damaging based on the title or URL.
- Does this negative content fall outside of the realm of the Right to Be Forgotten (EU) or Google’s takedown policy (US)? If so, it’s unlikely you can have the search engine de-index this result for your name. This means you will have to push down the negative Google result if you want it to stop being an issue.
What needs to be pointed out is that many people jump to this option, but don’t think about the possible downsides of requesting content removal.
Option 2. Pay for a service that claims to “instantly fix your negative search results”.
If the owner of the offending content refuses to take it down, you may be tempted to turn to paid removal services. Unfortunately this may be a very expensive and arduous process to removal. Often times the negotiations associated with this process can take as long as working to bury negative Google results directly. There are a number of reasons for this but the two biggest ones are time and negotiation.
Site owners tend to be protective of their content and have spent their own time or money when creating it. This is why they tend to not be very receptive to the idea of removing it. Also, most often the contact details you can find on a site are not checked frequently which means the time you have to spend simply waiting to hear back from the owner can be very long.
There are a number of businesses and “consultants” popping up all over the place who claim that they can bury negative Google results and fix your online presence practically overnight. However, if this person or company is focusing on building your brand with long-term results in mind, then they wouldn’t be making a promise that they can’t necessarily keep. The fact of the matter is, nobody can completely control Google results.
If someone says that they can fix your online reputation overnight, RUN!
In all likelihood, they are using black-hat SEO practices that try to trick search engines into quick, short-term results. While this may work for a week or two (at best), it is not a long-term solution. Your attempt to push down the negative search results will fail, and after a short period of time they will resurface. This means you will be right back where you started – but with less money. Search engines have been battling deceptive firms that use black hat tactics for years, and are now so good at flagging the activity that it often backfires, bringing the negative Google result back into prominence.
Option 3. Run a paid social media campaign.
This approach should be handled with care, and used only in very specific cases. If you have already invested time in building out your online presence, and continue to be consistently active on these sites, you will see positive changes over time – changes that can actually last. This is always the foundation we recommend initially when people want to bury negative search results.
However, if you need a little boost with a particular objective in mind – like getting more customers, increasing brand awareness or getting specific kinds of social media engagement, then perhaps you should consider a paid social media campaign.
This does not bury negative Google results directly, but if you do it the right way it can positively affect your campaign indirectly. This is an opportunity to create some traction for a specific goal that you can build on, and send additional signals to search engines that will never hurt your efforts. The idea behind a paid social media campaign should be to focus on the positive content that you are creating, your business or services so that there will be more activity geared toward the properties that you control as opposed to the negative result. Think of it this way, if more people see your content, then there’s a greater chance that you’ll get additional links (which directly help rankings) and organic social media traction (which correlates with ranking increases).
Option 4. Build and optimize the positive content you want people to find, burying your negative Google results much deeper on the page.
The best way to combat negative results is to suppress them with positive content. Instead of spending time and money on tactics that won’t lead to any long-term solutions, we recommend that you consistently create high-quality content that is search engine friendly. Additionally, regularly engage on various social media sites where you build and connect with relevant communities. This creates a network of relevant, accurate content and web properties that will start rising higher in Google when people search your name. Not only will this help bury negative Google results, but it will protect you from any future negative search results appearing in the future.
Understanding how to remove negative articles from Google is actually fairly straightforward. The real trick is being patient and consistent. This is where most people flounder and get desperate for a quick-fix. However, if you regularly follow the steps we listed above, it’s just a matter of time until you push those negative Google results down.
Option 5: Talk to one of our experts at (646) 863-8282.
At BrandYourself we’ve helped over half a million people improve their Google results. Over the years we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to figuring out how to push Google search results down.
Since every person’s situation is different, and specialized tactics can often go a long way, we recommend talking to a Reputation Advisor who can help you figure out your best course of action. At the very least, we’ll leave you with a actionn plan you can follow yourself to fix your unwanted results. We can also manage this process for you with our Online Reputation Management Services.
Call us at (646) 863-8282, schedule a call, or check out how our suppression services work.
Option 6: Learn about our Google suppression services.
Rather not set up a call with a Reputation Advisor? No worries. If you think you might still want help or advise on how to bury negative Google results, you can email or chat on our website to find out more information. Our team will be happy to work with you and find what services will be the most effective for your situation.
This concludes our 5-part series. We hope that this post gives you a better idea on how to bury something on Google that is hurting your online reputation. There’s always more to learn and put into practice, so we highly recommend that you continue to educate yourself on this topic. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just about knowing your options and spending the time on the right things.
Remember that working to bury or push down Google search results is an ongoing process, so even when you begin to see positive results, it’s important that you remain active on social media and that you update your site regularly. There are many ways to improve your online presence, and we’ve covered a lot of ground throughout this series.
If you want some extra help with the process, consider signing up for our free DIY online reputation management software, which walks you through the process step by step. And if you don’t have the time to work on it yourself, feel free to learn about our managed services, where you can let our world-class reputation specialists do it for you. We’re always here to help.