It’s not unusual for us to receive calls from attorneys concerned with negative results that are appearing when a search is performed for their name. There is an entire “Reputation Management” industry built around helping with these types of issues. However, like most things online, you need to be careful about the strategies being implemented for your reputation management campaign. I’m not intending to sound like a fear-monger, but I’ve heard horror stories of reputation management companies making a bad situation worse by implementing spammy or unethical practices in an attempt to get rid of negative results in search.
Depending on the type of result and the site the negative content resides on, getting that content displaced in the search results can be a tricky undertaking. For instance, if the negative result for your name appears on The New York Times or CNN, good luck trying to get the result displaced easily. Those sites are so authoritative and “important” in the eyes of Google that you are going to face an uphill battle.
Performing this type of SEO is generally considered one of the tougher tasks in the SEO field. You’re not only fighting for rankings against different sites/pages, you’re also competing with something called QDD (Query Deserves Diversity). QDD is Google’s preference to showing a variety of different pages when a search is performed (positive and negative sentiment analysis is suspected by some to be a component here, hence the potential impact on reputation management campaigns).
So what are some of the strategies you can try out and how should you approach a search related reputation management campaign? Let me outline some basic points for you to consider.
Identify Which Search Queries (Keywords) Produce Undesirable Results
Most likely, you will have a good idea of the keywords generating negative results going into the project. However, it’s wise to check a couple of variations to make sure you have a solid understanding of the terms you need to be cognizant of. Try variations of your name, the firm’s name (if it matches closely), your full name (including middle name if applicable), etc.
Develop Content On Multiple Sites With The Intention of Outranking the Negative Content
This is really the heart and soul of a reputation management campaign. The goal here is to setup and/or claim targeted profiles and develop content that sends signals of relevancy to the search engines for your name. A good place to start is identifying high visibility, authoritative websites you can setup a individual profile on. Here are a few profiles I would consider setting up:
Some paid profiles to consider (if applicable)
Next I would consider setting up a few blogs that center around your name. For example, setup free blogs on:
When setting up these blogs, you will have the option of selecting how you want your domain for the blog to appear. You are going to want to use the version of your name producing negative results. For instance if Larry P Lawyer is the version of your name in search with undesirable results, you will want your new blogs to include that term in the domains like so: http://larryplawyer.wordpress.com or http://larryplawyer.blogspot.com. This will help to provide Google with semantic information that makes the new blogs relevant for your name.
Additionally, I would consider registering a domain for your name (probably a good idea separate from the reputation management campaign I might add). You should go back to the research you did for keywords. The idea is to register a domain that closely matches the keyword producing negative results for your name. If you are having issues when someone searches for your name, such as “Larry P Lawyer” register LarryPLawyer.com. In the industry this is referred to as an exact match domain. While Google recently announced an update to the algorithm that reduces the effectiveness of “low-quality exact-match” domains, this is really meant to target domain names such as chicago-personal-injury-lawyer.info that are spammy and clearly meant to target a high volume, high competition keyword. You shouldn’t run into these issues with a quality domain name that exact matches your name.
My recommendation is to setup a WordPress.org blog on your new domain name. You’ll need to secure hosting which you can do through your domain registration company in most instances or a hosting provider such as Hostgator. You should have no problem finding an adequate hosting solution for under $10/month. You can even use one of the thousands of free themes on your new blog to keep the cost inexpensive. If you need help setting up your blog, feel free to reach out to us.
Optimize Those Pages/Profiles With Content & Links to Achieve Rankings Higher than the Negative Content
You’ll need to ensure that you are setting up the profiles mentioned above using the correct version of your name producing negative results. For your profiles on YouTube, Twitter, Quora, & Pinterest you are able to effect the URL depending on the user name you choose. Make sure you select a username that matches the version of your name you are targeting. For Facebook and Linkedin you can set the URL after you setup an account (click the links provided for info on how to do so for each respective profile.) Fill out each profile as completely as possible.
For the blogs you setup, you will need to create and publish some relevant articles for all 3 of the new blogs. By relevant, I mean that they should includes details relevant to you and including your name in the title of the article or directly in the body of the article where appropriate. For some ideas consider current projects you are involved with, community involvement, volunteer work, writing about your interests, achievements, professional backround, areas of expertise, etc. The idea is to publish articles that present you in a positive light because remember, the goal here is to get visiblity for the new content when someone searches for your name. What types of things do you want a searcher to read and discover about you when look you up online? Some additinal things to keep in mind:
- The articles need to be unique. Do not republish the same articles on all of the new blogs.
- Make sure to setup a unique “About” page on each of the blogs as well.
I would also consider setting up a widget on each of your blogs that has links pointing to your other social media profiles you setup above. Also, connect the various profiles to each other when you can. For instance, on Google+, Justia, JD Supra, Avvo, etc. you are able to add your other social media profiles. Be sure to complete this.
Also take a look at your individual profile page on your website. Is it optimized properly for your name? You can perform a quick audit taking a a close look at the title tag, the page title, and meta description to ensure it is optimized for the version of your name you are targeting.
While performing these tasks will not necessarily guarantee removal of the negative results, it can go a long way towards taking ownership of your online visibility and presence. I would recommend considering these activities even if you aren’t facing the task of removing undesirable search results. People will search for your name online, taking control of what they find can go a long way towards building a positive online reputation.