Strategies for Removing Content from Search Results


The internet directly influences the court of public opinion and how the world views you and your company. Harmful content, whether direct statements or news articles, sways internet users. Discovering negative or untrue content requires immediate damage control before it’s too late. Do you need help with negative content online? Keep reading to learn effective strategies to secure your online reputation.

Understanding Negative Online Content

Prevalent harmful content types affect you and your business, including bad reviews, defamatory posts, and negative news articles. Unfortunately, negative customer reviews often come from competitors, disgruntled employees, and sometimes, personal associates. Where the posts appear defines the best practices or if you have direct control over the content. For example, you can remove a poor customer review posted on your company website or social media profiles.

Defamatory posts are allegations against you or your company made to defame your character or paint a derogatory view of your organization. These posts generate financial or customer losses and could lead to your company’s shutdown. Fortunately, legal action for unfounded claims is possible.

Negative news articles trend on social media and have a more widespread effect. How often the article is shared on social media defines the full impact and how it affects your business. What news outlet publishes the story determines what you can do about it to protect your reputation. For example, different laws apply to gossip-based publications, and they aren’t always required to prove their stories are based on fact. However, mainstream media is held to a higher standard and must substantiate all claims.

Assessing the Negative Content

Knowing your audience and potential client base defines what negative content is harmful and what isn’t. For example, a single post claiming one-time poor customer service has a different trajectory on social media and online than claims that your products are dangerous. While both claims are harmful, assessing the negative content clarifies what to do and the urgency of managing it.

Methods for finding harmful content include setting up alerts on social media, Google, and review websites. You can also set up alerts via your ad management platform to get instant notifications for comments, new posts, and responses. These methods streamline evaluation strategies for staying ahead of potentially damaging information, how quickly it spreads online, and improving your response time.

Defamatory or false statements require an immediate response. Posting false statements online is libel and legally actionable. Recording the URL where the information was posted and capturing screenshots are vital actions to secure evidence. Avoid threatening individuals who make false statements, and hire an attorney promptly. An attorney can contact the website owner to discuss false statements, inconsistencies, and false allegations. Cease-and-desist letters are effective, as are filing claims for libel or defamation. In court, the individual must provide evidence substantiating their claims.

Suppressing Negative Content

SEO techniques can suppress damaging content on Google and push the links away from the first page of Google Search Engine Results Pages. Statistics show that the average Google user doesn’t read content beyond the first page. An SEO expert starts by searching for the content and evaluating the total number of listings that include the harmful content. Next, they identify the most common keywords linked to the information.

Creating new and positive content can suppress the negative content once an SEO provider has all the connecting keywords and phrases. New content should be more compelling than negative articles, posts, or commentary. Choose topics that appeal to the target audience and are more unique and exciting than the current controversy. Individuals or organizations post harmful content to drive their rankings and statistics. In short, they are trying to tell the world who you are for profit. Use new content to tell your story and control the narrative.

Customers and viewers loyal to you or your brand will share the new content, making it a social media trend. However, you must strategically promote the latest content and place it in front of your audience. The popularity and relevance of the content are more urgent for search engines than a damaging campaign published based on a hidden agenda.

Social media management is critical to achieving these objectives and leveraging a positive online presence for you and your business. Your social media manager must respond to reactions and comments related to the new content.

Content Removal for Negative Search Results

  1. Identify web pages with defamatory content.
  2. Request removal from the source (e.g., webmaster removal request).
  3. Use legal options if content is defamatory or violates rights (e.g., DMCA, court order).
  4. Optimize SEO to push negative content down in Google Search Results.
  5. Flag/report unwanted content on social media platforms, review sites (e.g., Yelp), forums, etc.
  6. Create positive content to overshadow negativity.

Request Google to remove the content.

Start with Google when trying to de-index content. Google often removes specific types of content, intellectual property and specific negative information, such as revenge porn, intimate images, certain financial, medical, and national ID information, as well as doxxing content.

Google Search Online Content Removal Form

Addressing and Mitigating the Damage

Finding the harmful content is just the start. Negative reviews and comments require immediate responses. For example, a customer may post a review explaining how displeased they were with a meal at your restaurant. The best practice for managing this negative review isn’t to ignore it but to find a solution.

Start by apologizing for the negative experience and asking the customer why they were displeased. Redress the situation by offering discounts or meal coupons for their next visit or recommending a different menu item. Never approach a customer in a rude manner, and use feedback to improve your business.

Reputation Crisis Management

Public figures, celebrities, and businesses are not immune to crises. Upon the discovery of an online crisis or controversy, take immediate action. Your reputation is at stake, and you must respond strategically to prevent permanent damage. If cancel culture has taught us anything, it is always to tell the truth, no matter how difficult it is. The truth always comes out, and a lie online is forever.

Strategize with your PR representatives, legal team, and an SEO professional. Create a press release addressing the crisis head-on. If the information is false, state that and follow measures to prevent more falsehoods online through legal action. If true, cut yourself a piece of humble pie by apologizing as needed and producing online content to reinvent your brand.

Address all customer complaints, reach out to fans to show your support for them, and show your audience why they can still trust you. Utilize social media listening tools to assess the impact of the crisis, its widespreadness, and where information exists about the issue. Popular social media listening tools are Sprout Social, Brandwatch, Brand24, and BuzzSumo.

Steps for Building and Maintaining a Positive Online Reputation

The most straightforward starting point is to Google your or your company’s names. The SERPs show all the information readily available online and where it ranks. Complete a full audit of your online presence and secure any private information such as personal phone numbers, email addresses, home or vacation home addresses, or family photos.

Contact the website to request the removal of any non-business-related data or take legal action as needed. Remove any questionable, outdated content, inaccurate, or damaging content if you have personal social media profiles.

Produce content that is relevant and valuable on search engines, especially Google and Bing. Engaging content that promotes your brand is vital to maintaining your audience and keeping them on your socials and company website. If writing and search engine optimization aren’t your forte, hire a professional. However, review all content before you publish it. You want content that reflects your personality, and you know yourself and your business better than anyone.

Tap into your network to get endorsements from others in your industry. Maintain genuine relationships and connections with other professionals. Building these relationships makes you and your business more credible and helps you acquire allies who will support you in troubling times.

Respectfully communicate with followers on social media profiles consistently and gauge their responses. Set aside time to speak to them, even if you hire a social media manager to manage the bulk of their comments, reactions, and responses. Personal and authentic interactions remind your audience that you care. Never appear arrogant; use feedback to grow, learn, and improve.

Tools and Services for Managing Negative Content

Online reputation management (ORM) tools, including Reputation Experience Management, Social Places, and SOCi, help you monitor social media posts, mentions, and hashtags across multiple platforms. You can also evaluate company and product reviews to gauge the public’s perception of you or your business. The tools generate reports and alerts to inform you about customer reviews, company-related posts, and comments on news articles and online posts.

With the tools, you can improve your response time to these posts and reduce crisis risks and reputation damage. However, hiring a professional reputation management company is critical if you discover an overwhelming volume of content daily.

Stay Proactive with Reputation Management Strategies

Practical strategies for proactively preventing future negative content start with search engine optimization practices. Generate regular content to avoid negative content from resurfacing. An SEO provider can create positive content based on your business needs, maintain higher rankings, and optimize content for improved reputation management.

Understanding how to find, assess, and manage negative content online is the key to proper online reputation management. Using SEO practices to suppress damaging content in the SERPs helps you control the narrative and protect your company and reputation. Staying proactive by using appropriate tools and hiring professionals as needed lowers the risk of irreversible damage, false narratives, and devastating losses for your organization. If you need SEO help, contact SEO North for effective strategies and services.


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Posted in SEO

Published on: 2024-06-17
Updated on: 2024-06-17

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.