This article is for people who have a problem with their online search results and want to know how to fix them.
For example, when someone Googles your name, you might have a negative article in your search results. It could be interfering with job prospects, your love life, or maybe it's just embarrassing. This article will outline the best ways to improve search results if the result cannot be removed.
We suggest reading this article on how to remove negative content from Google searches first. If none of the methods to remove the content work, then the article you are reading now is where you should go next.
A negative online article must be suppressed if it cannot be removed from search results. Otherwise, it could cause problems indefinitely.
Here is an outline of the steps necessary to suppress, or "push down," something in search results if it cannot be removed. We will assume the negative content is something that comes up in your name when you Google it.
- Google Your Name
- Identify Positives Below the Highest Negative
- Identify Similar People (Similar Entities) Like You
- Identify Web Properties They Have That You Don't
- Make a List of Web Properties to Build
- The Very Important EMD
- Create Content for Each Web Property to Be Built
- Build the Web Properties
- Promote the Web Properties
- Refresh Content
Google Your Name
- Know What's Out There: By searching your name you can gauge how the public sees you.
- Identify the Negative: Locate the negative search results that may be harming your reputation. Note where they appear in search results. Are they in position 1, 2, 3, etc?
Identify Positive Search Results Below the Highest Negative
- Highlight the Good: Find positive search results that are located below the most visible negative result. In other words, if the negative is in position three, and a positive article or profile about you is in position four, then the good one in position four will be the main one you will later target for promotion.
- After you have identified the highest-ranking positive content about you, move on to the next step.
Identify Similar People to You
- Competitive Analysis: Identify people that are similar to you, whether competitors, peers, or others in your industry. You will do this to get ideas as to what kinds of content might be developed in a future step.
- Compare Their Search Results to Yours: Understanding how others fare can give you insights into your own situation. Google arranges search results by relevance. So, the first is what Google thinks is most important, followed by the second most important, etc. By comparing a similar person's results to yours, you can see what Google thinks is important for people like you.
Identify Web Properties They Have That You Don't
- Benchmarking: Look at the web properties others have and compare them with your own. For example, if a person similar to you has a LinkedIn profile and you don't, then building a LinkedIn profile would probably be a good idea for you too.
- Ideas: Here are a few common web properties that tend to appear in businesspeople's search results and rank well.
- Personal website (EMD)
- Biography page on company site
- X (Twitter)
Make a List of Web Properties to Build
- Planning: Now that you have a list of web properties to be built, put them in a spreadsheet. It's a good idea to do this because it keeps you organized. Another good tool we use for simple organization and project management is Notion.
The Very Important EMD
- EMD (Exact Match Domain): Acquiring a domain that exactly matches your name or brand can significantly improve SEO. This will eventually become an "authority" site.
- Authority links: Your EMD is clearly about you. Your name is the domain name, after all. When hyperlinks are built from your EMD to other websites about you, Google tends to trust them more because the links are coming from an authority site.
- EMD's tend to rank well: Your EMD, properly developed, maintained, and promoted, should rank very well in most cases. If it isn't taken, get it.
- Make it simple. Don't go overboard on your EMD. You can always improve it later. We like to start with a Wix or SquareSpace site. Long-term, though, we prefer WordPress because it offers more control. But WordPress isn't as easy to set up.
Create Content for Each Web Property to Be Built
- Quality Over Quantity: Focus on creating high-quality content that reflects different aspects of who you are. Don't re-use the same content in two properties. Each must be unique. Duplicative content doesn't rank well.
- Vary Your Content: The content you create about yourself should explore different facets. For example, you might have a Medium.com blog that focuses on your love of motorcycles. But your exact match domain (EMD), your main website, maybe an executive biography.
- Create the Content in Advance: It's easier to first identify the web properties to be built, then create the content for each one, and then to develop the actual web properties.
Build the Web Properties
- Execution: Implement the plan by building the necessary web properties.
- How many: You only need to start with three to five web properties. You can always add more later if necessary. The more web properties you build, the more resources you will need to pour into promoting and maintaining them. So start small and build over time.
Promote the Web Properties
- Marketing and Promotion: Actively promote your web properties through social media, link building, and other channels. If you create compelling content and promote the content on your social media channels, you will probably naturally gain some inbound links from other websites. Each link from another site is a vote that your site is worthy and can result in higher rankings.
- Stay Current: Regularly update your content to keep it relevant and engaging. There is an aspect to Google and Bing search engines that rewards fresh content with higher visibility.
- Monitor Results: Regularly check the results and make adjustments as needed. There are a number of tools available to monitor every aspect of your site from search ranking to site health. Here is a list of monitoring apps.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve their online appearance. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.