For businesses and brands, negative, defamatory or libelous content will have a devastating effect. This can impact customer trust in your business and on your sales. The longer negative content stays online, the greater the damage. And if the site has a high authority – such as a news or media site – it further increases the number of people who will see it.
It’s a real worry – 1 in 3 businesses say that negative content has damaged their business and almost half are worrying about the impact of negative content on their business and its value in the future.
Get in touch with Niki today, in complete confidence.
Removing unwanted content online – removing search results
When people search for your business, 90% will only look at the first page of the search results and go no further. So what happens if negative results or content appears on that first page? If defamatory or libelous content appears that what options do you have to get this removed?
The best way of challenging this is to get the content removed. Which will Google will usually delist from its search results within a few days.
There are a few tactics that you can use to remove search results.
- Get the author to remove it.
This isn’t a likely option, because they made the decision to put it online in the first place. But they may remove it when asked.
Be aware, this can have a downside. The author could add this to the original page, which can encourage comments. Google sees this as refreshing the content, which makes it a stronger page. This may make it appear higher in the search results.
With this in mind, a phone call is usually better than an email. A personal conversation can convey emotions better than an impersonal email. And you have the added benefit that a conversation can’t be ‘cut and pasted’ to the bottom of the article.
- Ask the publisher or webmaster to remove it.
This won’t work on personal blogs but could be an option for small to medium sites, like local news websites. There are plenty of online tools available to find out who is the webmaster or publisher of a webpage. Try asking the webmaster to remove the relevant search phrases from the page – like your company name, for example.
These are just some examples and a reputation management company will explore other options with you.
What content will Google remove from search results?
There are always cases where the search engines will remove negative or defamatory information, such as:
Information that might lead to identity theft, or that may cause financial harm
Where this kind of information appears, it violates the service agreement with Google. Google will remove bank account details, signature images, and credit card numbers – as this kind of content can lead to financial fraud or identity theft.
Sexually explicit information
Search engines will remove sexually explicit information posted without consent, provided it meets the following criteria
- You’re nude or shown in a sexual act.
- You intended the content to be private and the image appears publicly without your consent, e.g., revenge porn.
- You’re underage.
- You didn’t consent to the act and the image appears publicly without your consent.
It falls under The Right to Be Forgotten
The right to be forgotten applies within the EU only. It involves removing references from search engines, such as press coverage, outdated articles, pictures or videos and social media.
What are the legal reasons to remove information from search engines
A copyright will protect against theft of your intellectual property and both Google and Bing will remove copyrighted information which falls under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
“Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” – For a full list of protected property, see the U.S. Copyright PDF.
Deleting unwanted or negative content from the Internet means that Google doesn’t have the negative result to display in search results so that people won’t be able to find it. But it isn’t easy to remove things from Google yourself, which is another reason that reputation management companies exist.
Igniyte helps businesses and brands with:
- Challenging defamatory or unsubstantiated content about your business, brand or people online, removing it from blogs, social and professional media profiles, review sites, press articles and forums.
- Removing negative company information or images.
- Addressing copyright issues online.
- Consultancy on the complex area of law surrounding removing links.
- How to deal with Internet ‘trolls’ and protect against them.
- Safeguarding your business and brand from potential threats to your online reputation.
Removing negative reviews
You can’t ask for a review to be removed because it’s negative or you don’t like it. It’s a question we get asked a lot. But that’s not how reviews work.
Review platforms exist so that people can share their honest opinions – the good, bad and the ugly. People reading them can make a decision based on what other product or service users are saying about them.
But you can ask for the removal of reviews that breach site guidelines, are defamatory or you can prove they are fake.
Reviews impact brand and business reputation.
- 93% of people say online reviews impact their buying decisions.
- 89% of consumers are 'highly' or 'fairly' likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews.
- Nearly 75% consumers believe that written reviews describe positive experience.
- 86% of potential customers will not buy products or services from a business with negative reviews.
Just a single negative review can drive away 22% of customers, costing a business around 30 customers and around four or more negative reviews can drive away 70% of customers. That’s painful and avoidable.
Taking all of this into account, plus the fact that 51% of businesses say their company has been negatively affected by unsubstantiated online reviews or targeted by trolls, and you can see the impact.
Talk to our team about how we can help you with this.