When my startup failed and I found myself in legal trouble, one of the many overwhelming items on my plate was my Google search results page. There’s no way around it: it was a train-wreck that I knew I needed to tend to. After all, Glassdoor says 90% of recruiters lean on Google’s search results when considering a candidate, and they’re not the only ones.
Sadly, search engine experts understand this and the desperation many feel when they’re up against a wall of negative press. I was personally pitched by four of these organizations, each of whom promised they would solve all of my (search engine) woes in exchange for an exorbitant fee (often between $30,000 and $60,000).
The good news is you do not need to pay a service like this to achieve meaningful and lasting results.
Maintain Your Presence
Understand the motivation of major search engines like Google is providing users the most relevant information about each search. And when someone searches for an individual, Google knows social media profiles are generally high-authority.
Given that, it’s important that you not delete, de-activate, or make your social media profiles private. By doing so, you would be removing a quality link (which you control) from the first page of your search results, allowing negative results to take another spot on your front page.
It’s important to, at minimum, maintain an active and public profile on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, and Tik Tok.
Expand Your Presence
If you don’t yet have a personal website featuring your biography and resume, this is a great way to secure another position on your front page which will be under your control.
There are many guides to building a personal website but what’s most important is to register a domain that is as close to your key search phrase as possible. If that’s your first name and last name, aim to secure FirstnameLastname.com. If that’s not available, consider other top-level-domains like .net, .org, or a TLD relevant to your local area (like .nyc or .miami). Alternatively, consider a middle initial.
Create a website that is clean and direct, offering a factual biography and resume. Once it’s live, make sure all of your social media profiles point to it so Google’s crawler receives the signal that it’s an important source of information about you.
Remove Negative Listings
There are many ways to go about this but no matter what type of content you’re targeting, remember to be polite and respectful as there is almost always a human being on the other side of your request.
Most legal aggregation websites allow for de-indexing requests, Google has a new policy regarding the de-indexing of sensitive personally identifiable information, and there is always the good-old-fashioned e-mail to a publisher where you politely request the removal of an article especially if it’s outdated or inaccurate.
Other methods are available but are viable on a case-by-case basis and may require the expertise of an online reputation management professional.
Search engine work takes time and your results will not be immediate, but the steps outlined in this post are a great step in the right direction. For more, review the full guide to online reputation management at RepairMySearch.