You do a search for your name (or the name or your company or product) and one of the top results is a blog post attacking you. Or maybe there is something that you wrote, but it does not reflect what you believe today. Or there are those embarrassing vacation photos your friend posted to flickr.
Is there anything you can do to get this negative publicity off the Internet, or at least keep customers (and your mother) from seeing it? Although you may not be able to get all of it completely off the Internet, there are several things you can do to make it less visible. Let’s take a look at what your plan should be.
First of all, if the offending material is on a site you control, remove it. This may include a political rant on your blog, or a late-night, alcohol-fueled essay about your love life on your MySpace profile. Note that this will not necessarily remove all traces of the items from the web. For example, they may be available at the Wayback Machine or in Google cache. However, this will probably stop the pages from coming up in searches within a fairly short time.
If the material is controlled by someone who likes you, ask them to remove it. Your friend may understand that although you had a great time downing Tequila shots with him in Acapulco, you would prefer that the evidence of that evening not be posted in full color for everyone to see. He may agree to remove the photos or at least remove the tags that identify you by name.
Of course, if someone has attacked you, they are probably not going to be interested in removing the attack. Asking them to do so may simply invite further attack and ridicule. The temptation is to register several accounts and start posting rebuttals under different names, all saying how wonderful you are. Not only can this backfire (big time) by inviting more attacks, it keeps the topic active and more likely to keep showing up in the search engine results. Instead, you need another tactic: Bury them.
That is not as hostile as it sounds. All it means is putting lots of other stuff on the web so that their snotty little blog post gets dropped lower and lower in the search results. Eventually, that item will be ranked so far down that no one will see it. Face it, even your mother is not going to get to result number 132 when she Googles your name.
Cleaning up your reputation and burying the bad stuff can be an involved process, and it does not all happen overnight. However, there are a few steps you can take quickly and easily to get the ball rolling. First, set up profiles on several highly-ranked sites. You might start with these:
You will also want to add content to these sites (e.g., write reviews at Amazon, post articles at Ezine Articles, upload photos to flickr, etc.) but the first step is to set up the profiles.
Next, start a blog and submit it to blog directories. The fastest (and free) way to set up a blog is at http://www.Blogger.com/. Be sure to fill out your profile page. Do not just post once and abandon the blog. Add a new post every few days for at least a few months.
There are many directories to which you may submit your blog. A few of the largest are:
Continue looking for sites where you can post articles, photos, videos, profiles and more. Add unique content to these sites (i.e., do not just post the same article to 56 article directories).
Offer guest blog posts to high-ranking blogs in your niche. Bloggers are always looking for quality articles (and a way to take the day off). Give them an article written just for them. Not only will you get a great link out of it, the blog post may rank well for your name.
Build up your site with new content, and get lots of links pointing to it. One way to get links is from your profiles and the content you post on the sites listed in this article.
There are many other sites and techniques you can use to help create a powerful online presence and minimize the effects of negative things about you on the Internet. The ideas in this article will get you started.
Copyright Cathy Stucker