Throughout my decade plus of involvement in SEO, I have been contacted a few times by friends and acquaintances with ‘SEO emergencies’. If you guessed that the emergency had something to do with handcuffs, you are right. In each case, the ’emergency’ had something to do with a negative article in the press that detailed bad behavior that culminated in a run-in with the police. The article about them was ranking very high on Google for their names; and therefore had the ability to have a negative impact on current and future career prospects.
Luckily, for the people that sought my help, they were not famous enough to get written up in the national media nor were their actions egregious enough to generate a steady drumbeat of negative articles. Had that not been the case, I would have advised them to crawl under a rock to wait out the storm or hire a PR agency. Here are the steps we took to address their Google search challenges and might work for you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
- First and foremost, nicely contact the reporter who wrote about you to see if there’s anything you can do to update the story. Do not get angry or make threats since this will have the complete wrong effect. Paying to have it removed is beyond the scope of this post, but compensation for the removal might be involved. Do your own research on how to respond to this offer.
- Claim every possible public website that will use your name in the title and URL of the page:
- Even Google Plus
- Depending on your job, see if you can create a bio on your company’s website
- Find outlets to contribute posts which will allow you to have an author page. As an example a site like Huffington Post with your bio would do wonders for your name search
- Do something that media might want to cover. Make a big donation. Run a marathon. Make an event.
- Create some music and upload it to SoundCloud and similar recording sites
- Build your own blog under your name. Even if you can’t get the .com of your domain, go for another top level domain. You can even build multiple blogs.
- Open a consulting practice under your name and submit the business to all of the most popular business listing sites
- Yellow Pages
- Google Maps
- Yahoo local & many more
- If all else fails, reach out to a practitioner of the dark arts of negative SEO that might be able to help you lower the rank of the problematic article.
Most businesses know that they have to be concerned about their online reputation, but individuals never think twice about it until they have a problem. If you have stumbled across this post and you aren’t in need of cleaning up a mess you made online, the above steps are good proactive measures to make sure you own your name in search before problems crop up.