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Removing a negative article from Google - Brand protection
Any brand can deal with negative reviews, but not every brand can deal with a serious negative article written by a major publication.
Business is thriving and your profits increase on a monthly basis, time to relax and enjoy the glory right? Well no! As soon as you start seeing some profits you should worry about your brand's reputation!
Why? Because everything you worked for can be destroyed with just one web page.
There are a lot of factors involved:
- your competitors may try to bury you in negative reviews;
- because you're freshly gained notoriety some big newspapers or publications may decide to look a little bit closer and expose stuff that isn't really illegal, but maybe immoral, if you look close enough you can find some dirt in any brand out there!
- you will get eventually negative reviews from your customers and some of them may want to take stuff to a totally different level.
I personally had clients that found themselves in the second category merged with the third. Meaning they haven't done anything illegal, but somehow manage to get a very specific customer so worked up that they went to a big publication, offering some inside dirt and a story to go along with everything. So every time someone searched for their brand name this "negative" article came in the first three positions, business began to suffer of course so this is why they've turned to me for help.
Because none of them wanted to resolve the problem with the publication that wrote the article and didn't want to actually respond to the claims presented I had very little options left. The only logical thing I could do is to bury the negative article on page two of the search results for every brand based keyword possible.
How do you bury a negative article coming from a major publication with big domain authority on page two?
First of all, I wouldn't recommend black hat techniques, Google won't penalize high authority domains no matter how many spam-based backlinks they get! To top it all off there might be a small chance it will work at least for a while, but I assure you both the site's webmasters and Google will figure out that specific page is under attack and may find yourself in a position where the publication writes a new article about your brand claiming you've attacked the first one.
There is also the issue of budget. Getting a website and especially an old domain penalized is no easy task, not even with the worst black hat techniques imaginable, you would really have to invest in all of this to have even small chances of making it work.
So, how do you protect your brand from situations like the ones explained above and how can you bury such a result if you do end up in a similar mess?
1. First of all, take preemptive measures as soon as you start selling anything online. Don't assume everything will be fine, hire an SEO and start working on your brand management.
2. Analyze the search results and figure out what do you control (social media profiles/pages, brand based websites, etc). This analysis is crucial, you need to have a plan and figure out what haves potential to rise in search results and outrank the negative page.
3. Full keyword research. You need to make sure what are your main brand based keywords and how many of them are affected by this negative articles in Google's results.
4. Optimize everything! From the "about page" to your social profiles, you really need to target your brand's name and keywords everywhere in an SEO friendly way. Even small changes can up certain pages in the search results. For example one of my simplest fixes ensuring a better position for a LinkedIn profile was to change the URL slug into a brand based keyword.
5. Publish additional pieces of content on all of your websites and social profiles targeting your brand keywords in the process. This is a great way to eliminating anyone that isn't you from the search results. Sure, the negative article may still be on the first page but at least, by now, it will be already pushed down a few positions.
6. Create at least two or three new websites. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just a few WordPress websites as a brand "presentation" purpose, targeting your keywords in the process. These websites need to load fast, have a clean theme and good content, no too much, just enough.
7. Start building backlinks for your new websites as well as for your social profiles and main websites. This isn't an easy task, but with the right SEO team, you will, in theory, outrank any competition by building domain and page authority with the help of quality backlinks.
8. Buy similar niches expired domains with backlinks and authority. There are a lot of ways of doing this. I prefer using expireddomains.net as a research tool. Once I find something worthy of being bought I create a small Blogger (BlogSpot) based blog and add the custom domain (with the authority) to it. It takes under an hour to create such a site, you will just need the right content to publish as well as linking back to your new websites or to whatever you need to be upped in the search results. This is a really great way of getting quality backlinks as well as controlling multiple domains of a search result niche.
9. Have patience! Getting your brand out of a serious mess or just protecting your brand, takes time! A LOT OF TIME!
This is the biggest problem I've had with clients like this, they were all affected by the negative article and they all wanted everything resolved as fast as possible.
My first success in such a campaign came after 6 months with my first client and may take me over 1 year with my current one.
10. There is a strong possibility it won't work. Google results aren't very predictable. They won't always push down one another and respecting their authority. Sometimes Google can choose to keep a certain result on the first page just because it considers good information and it won't matter how many websites you are going to create and how many and active social profiles you will have, you will just end up pushing your own websites and profiles around while that specific article you want to go will stick to the first page.