Search engines and the internet have changed our world in ways few could have comprehended. Most of these changes have been extremely positive eg. I can now study a new concept from the comfort of my home. However, some of the changes occurring as a result of the internet, are not so positive.
Case in point, much of what you do now is captured and shared digitally (either intentionally or unintentionally), and is referred to as your digital footprint. This information is accessible for all to see (think embarrassing videos at the office party, a night experimenting as a teenager, etc.).
I for one, think there is good and bad that comes with this level of accountability.
Good - companies will be held to higher standards, and WILL BE held accountable for their actions
Bad - some individuals will take it too far, and will post false or just embarrassing information
So the question becomes; if this happens to you, what can you do to minimize the visibility of this "information" without having to resort to spending thousands to hire a professional reputation management firm?
Below follows 7 DIY tips and techniques that anyone can employ:
1. write the person or company who posted the negative piece a nice email, or put in a nice phone call, where you politely explain your situation, and ask if they'd consider removing the negative piece.
Legal action is also a possibility, although only in dire situations as it can have the opposite effect to that desired, so use very cautiously.
The rest of these techniques assume that since the negative listing cannot be removed, it must be pushed lower in the search results instead!
2. build links to the sites ranking immediately beneath the negative piece in the search results, in an effort to boost them above the negative piece. Ensure that the desired keyword terms are in the anchor text of the new links. Here's a list of 80+ ways to build links.
3. buy a new domain that includes the keywords you wish to target in the domain name (eg. reputation-management-information.com), put a site on it, and begin promoting it.
4. build social media profiles using the keyword terms you wish to have displace the negative listings. The listings associated with these pages will begin to appear in the search results of major search engines. In the screenshot below of a search for my name on Google, notice the Facebook and Twitter profile listings?
Screenshot: Google Search for Jeff Quipp
5. post articles on powerful sites, using the targeted keywords as the focus of the article (and in the title tag). The YourSEOMentor interview above is an example. That was an article I participated in, and see how effectively it works!
6. if you do not already have 2 pages from your site ranking for the specific key word terms being targeted, build another page with slightly different content about the topic, and promote it and/or include it in your site navigation. Google, Yahoo, MSN all will show 2 pages from a site in the search results, possibly helping to push the negative listing down further in the search results. Case in point again in the screenprint above ... notice searchenginepeople.com ranking both in the 1st and 2nd positions in the search results.
7. if you own more than one site, consider adding 2 pages to each of those sites about the topic too. Then, start link building and promoting those sites.
In the vast majority of situations, these do-it-yourself tips will be enough to push the negative listings down in the search results. If not, then you may need to resort to hiring a professional reputation management firm!
Are there any other tactics you've used that do not appear here?