Almost every month we find a website aimed at trashing other businesses. The amount of traffic driven by comments keeps the URL high on SERP's and almost 100% of the time the information that's linked to the comments is slanderous and unrepresentative of the business or person in question.
Reputation management is my favorite type of SEO because the results are always tangible and very fulfilling. Let me share what works for me, and how you can help your clients by knocking harmful URL's off the first page of Google.
Open new social profiles for the client in question. If they already have certain social sites, make sure they are active.
Don't forget the smaller guys like Formspring, SoundCloud, Spotify and Artslant. These sites perform great on the first page of Google-even when competing with the comment traffic from Pissed Consumer, DirtyPhoneBook and Ripoff Report. We've had active Formspring accounts in particular show up on the first page of Google just a few days after creating it.
Make sure that once you create these accounts you keep the ball rolling. An unengaged account will be useless. A few sites that don't deliver results as quickly; Pinterest, Tumblr, and Flickr. These sites tend to show up on the first page after a few weeks, rather than a few days after creation.
Another important aspect of removing a URL from the first page of a SERP is to buy and manage as many domains for said client as you can.
If they don't already own the name in dispute as a .com, .org. .net, etc. make sure you buy those URL's and populate them with relevant content. Optimize everything you post and within a few days you'll notice they start to receive first page placement.
The same principle that applies to social profiles applies to domains and anything else you touch-don't create it and let it sit. Make sure you engage it regularly. Google is very specific about creating useless sites; unless the domains provide purpose to users and make the client a better authority within their industry the URL's will not perform well.
Click The Bad Link Once, Or Not At All
Oftentimes, creating a few accounts on the site of the bad link and then leaving positive comments will effectively push the negative press off the first page of the host site. Apart from this and personally emailing the webmaster with a request to remove your client from their website, you shouldn't give the link any attention at all.
Instead, Google the client as many times a day as you need to and click on the relevant links that lead to their positive web presence. The bad link should be ignored at all costs.
If your client is a business, build as many citations as possible. iVouch, Citysearch, Insider Pages and Trustlink are a great place to start.
I've used these techniques successfully for a number of clients and have been very pleased with the quickness of the results. If you have any additional methods for knocking negative URL's off the first page of a search engine please feel free to share them!
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy A Brief Guide To Online Reputation Management