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How Do I Get Bad Stories About Me Off Of Google, Part 1 of 3

Search Engine Reputation Management or SERM

A client who had some smear stories written about him, recently asked – how do I get bad stories about me off of Google? Or more accurately, when someone else has written a story about you online which presents you in a negative light, how do you get that story pushed further down in the return results of a Google search? You want to preserve your good online reputation. You want your reputation online to be as positive as possible. When someone does a Google search on you, you want favorable stories and results which put you in a good light. And when someone writes and posts a story about you, right or wrong, accurate information or made up, inaccurate fabrications, those stories come up in a Google search. You can’t control what others write about you. So when they write about you and it is negative, what do you do, and how do you get your good reputation back?

Rather than fight the story at the source, and demand a retraction, it is easier and better just to optimize your site for searches. By going to the original source which wrote the negative story and asking them to remove or retract their story – you risk waking the ‘ sleeping giant’. That could backfire on you and create even worse press for you. The other possibility is there is more than one negative story about you, so you would end up chasing way too many people to get them to take their stories off, which they may not. It would be far more effective for you to ignore  the source, and manage the search return results a different way.

As it turned out, my client was a lightning rod of feelings – Good and Bad.  And while the saying all press is good press, in his case, it was not working to his benefit. It was costing him jobs and he seemed to have this other issue – the truth and wanting others to see the truth over the lies.

With that in mind, I figured I would outline how to improve your online reputation.

  • This area of Internet presence management is labeled Search Engine Reputation Management or SERM. It is a subset of SEO, and contains many skills – including an understanding of crisis management.  Many of the solutions will not be quick, like much of SEO – but results will vary, like your mileage and situation.
  • Understand that Google results change – 1st of all not everyone gets the same results at the same minute.  Two different people can do a Google search at the same time, using the same search words, and one person will have the same entry ranked higher than the other search return will give the other person. One person can have ‘peas’ returned as the third listing, while another person can have ‘peas’ returned as item number 5, using the very same search words. Google is trying to improve the results for everyone.  So it will create different results based on what you have searched before and what is in your other Google account including:
    • Gmail – Google will try to customize your search results based on what is in your GMail emails,
    • Customized news on Google News – If you follow Cricket over Candian Football, your search results will lean that way as well. Follow McCain over Clinton – your results are different.
    • Google Docs – What you store helps Google understand what you are focused on.
    • Google alerts
    • YouTube – Also owned by Google, so watch Oberman clips more then Beck or Cute Kitties – your results also reflect the shift.
    • Previous Google searches

This assumes of course, that you have a Google account, which not everyone does. Using  a Google account can be to your benefit, because Google keeps track of what you have searched for, what you have looked at in the returned results, how long you were there, and what you did from there. It keeps track of this, so that when you do another search, it in effect thinks, well, they were interested in x before, so based on that, I will return things more likely to be like x, since that is what they seem to be interested in.

You can choose to have it optimize its results for you on your Google account.

Follow the discussion on Part 2 of How Do I Get Bad Stories About Me Off Google…

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Google Image Searches

Another way to rank your site and push it up is to have photo and image content on your site and pages. Using ALT tags on your photos can get your name (or the name you want to push up) noticed more.  The more you have text, captions, ALT tags and file names that match your name, the better chance Google will interpret your images as being about you.

Its helpful to do a Google image search and see what kind of images come up. Some of them may be rather unexpected and not related to you at all. Or maybe remotely related to you. I did an image search recently, and someone else’s photo came up under a search of my name. Different gender and all. So its a good idea to check and see what will come up for you when you search. You may need to address it or not, but at least you will know what is being pulled up and associated with you and your site.

Of course if your photo is used in more places that have your name, the more likely the image will have your name in it.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | SERM, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment