Somewhere out in cyberspace an unknown or known associate, competitor or just plain slanderously natured individual has written a particularly damning or negative article/blog about yourself or your business and posted it on the internet.
So what happens next? The nature of the beast is that the major search engines will index and crawl all of the content on the internet regardless of whether it is good content, relevant or controversial. The next thing you know when Googling your name up comes the offending article or blog on the first page of search engine results.
Annoying is an ‘understatement’. This type of negative publicity has the potential to damage your business reputation and your ability to attract new clients. The bÃgger problem is that unless the negative article or entry is removed from the site it is posted on it will remain index-able and searchable by the major search engines for as long as the content exists and this could equate to a number of years.
First up, don’t panic there are a number of positive SEO remedies that you can employ to counteract the slanderous attempts of these individuals and their effect on the search engines. Unfortunately with the Internet there is limited recourse by a targeted individual or business to defend their reputation especially when articles are written by so called ‘consumer advocates’ or vigilantes doing the public a ‘service’ yet able to post anything on their websites regardless of the dire effects it may have on the targeted individual involved and their business.
SEO Remedies to tackle negative internet publicity…
Step 1 – If the article or blog is genuinely slanderous and has no truth or merit, then approach the website owner posting the entry and ask for it to be removed. Legal representation and legal advice may be necessary to protect your business. A well written letter from your lawyer or a threat of legal action may be enough impetus to persuade the website owner to remove the post. However, be aware that if unsuccessful, it may encourage the author of such articles to focus more attention on you so it may be more prudent to try steps 2 to 5 first.
Step 2 – Examine the keywords within the offending article to see what is being picked up by the search engines. This will normally be your name and/or business name. This is easy to find by clicking on the ‘cached’ entry next to the search engine listing. The keywords indexed by the search engine will be highlighted on the cached page and show you exactly what the search engine is indexing and crawling from the article or blog. These keywords (name or business name or both) will be the focus of your SEO Band-Aid treatment. To push the negative listing off the first page of results on Google and Yahoo you will need to create as many new listings as possible on the Internet to be picked up by the major search engines.
Step 3 – Start with ‘free classified ad’ listings and post your new ads under the category of business services. Include your name and business name in the body of the free classified ad plus a relevant keyword title specific to your industry or business service provision. Free classified ad listings will show up on search engine results within the first week of posting them on the internet. Complete as many free classified ads as possible and post them for the longest duration possible.
Step 4 – Write some free articles on your area of business or industry expertise remembering to include an eye catching title and your name and business name in the content of the article and author bio. Post these articles on your website and on free article submission sites; the more the better. Make sure you allow your free articles to be syndicated for content to other sites. This improves the opportunities for your article being listed on several internet sites which has a domino effect, boosting your search engine rankings and the positive listings picked up by the major search engines. If this still does not remedy the problem, then proceed to Step 5.
Step 5 – Create as many free directory listings on the internet as possible under your applicable service or product category. Use the same title and keyword text as your free classified ads remembering to mention your business name and name if possible. You can manually find free directories by performing searches on Google and Yahoo or alternatively use a directory submitting tool such as ‘Submiteaze‘ which is reasonably priced.
The results from employing these SEO strategies may be instantaneous unless the offending article or post has been prevalent in the search engine listings for a number of years (2 or more). You can then expect the recovery process to take up to 6 months of concentrated SEO effort to bump this listing off the first page of results on Google and Yahoo.
If all else fails…
Employ Step 1 and, if that fails, then lets hope in the very near future that just like ‘sp@m’, slanderous material posted on the internet becomes a reportable offence to the major search engines, government bodies and consumer watch dogs. And, that the consequences for engaging in such underhanded practices results in a site being dropped from the search engines and classified as a ‘bad neighborhood site’, plus a monetary fine of such magnitude as to deter the practice. If a site can’t be indexed or is banned by the search engines, then it effectively becomes ‘voiceless’ and the power to publicly affect an individual’s livelihood or a business’s profits, growth and sales is then vastly diminished. Noting, that a banned site would still have the opportunÃty to remove any offensive or slanderous material and then reapply to be indexed by the search engines.
It may be argued that the search engines are not responsible for this problem. Well as the most influential body on the internet with the most power to help, who else are we to turn to? The print and television media are unable to publicly slander an individual or business without facing retribution via legal action and a public outcry, so why should the Internet be free of the same accountability?
About The Author
Rosemary Donald is an SEO Consultant with Rank1 Website Marketing and author of the SEO ebook ‘Insider Secrets of Rank1 Websites’ available for $29.95AU. Rosemary is a regular contributor to online article sites on the topics of SEO, website marketing, ecommerce, search engine marketing and small business development. Rosemary Donald is also a successful online trader of top ranking site SabuJewellery.com.