Resource Center > Online Reputation Management > Control what’s seen on Google: How to push down negative search results in 2024

Control what’s seen on Google: How to push down negative search results in 2024

by Rockey Simmons

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We all love a good story, but not when it’s about us and paints a bad picture of who we are.

That’s why learning how to push negative search results down the search engine results pages (SERPs) is so important.

In this article, we will explore strategies and techniques to help you enhance your brand’s online presence, diminish the effects negative online content can have on you, and teach you how to control what shows up in your search results.

Why pushing down negative results matters

When someone searches for your name or business online, the first page of search results is the most important. According to Advanced Web Rankings, the click-through rate (CTR) for the first result is over 30%. But by the 10th result, it drops to under 2%.

This means that search results on page one are the ones people interact with. As such, they can have a major influence on first impressions and perceptions. If negative content dominates page one, it can significantly impact how people view you or your business.

Consequences of high-ranking negative content

Giving you stats about page-one results might make you think a little more closely about the importance of handling negative results on page one, but seeing the consequences of ignoring your online reputation works even better.

Here’s what I mean.

Prominent negative search results can lead to:

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  • Lost opportunities and leads
  • Decreased trust and credibility
  • Reputational damage
  • Lower revenue and sales

These are the things that can happen very quickly when you don’t take your online reputation seriously.

By pushing negative content down past the first page of search results, you greatly reduce its ability to harm your reputation.

Key strategies to push down negative results

Here are some of the top strategies recommended by reputation management experts to push negative search engine results down in 2024:

1. Create new positive content

The most effective approach is to create fresh, high-quality content that ranks well for your name and related keywords. This content dilutes the presence of negative results by taking up valuable search result real estate.

Here are some different content types you can create:

  • News articles
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Social media
  • Press releases
  • Wikipedia pages

Try to make the content detailed, accurate, and optimized for target keywords. Then, promote your new content through social media, outreach, and link-building campaigns.

Over time, search algorithms may begin to favor your new positive content over the old, outdated negative results.

2. Improve existing websites and profiles

Leverage websites and profiles you already own by enhancing their content and technical search-engine optimization (SEO).

Here are a few optimization tactics you can try:

  • Add keyword-optimized pages about your products, services, and awards.
  • Improve page speed and mobile friendliness.
  • Build high-quality backlinks from trusted sites.
  • Encourage customer reviews and testimonials.
  • Refresh old content and publish blog posts regularly.

The more authority your online properties gain, the more search engines pay-attention to them. This can start to pave a clear path to the top, leading to higher rankings and overshadowing negative results.

3. Remove content through legal means

Explore legal options to request the removal or de-indexing of libelous, inaccurate, or unlawfully posted content.

For example, you can:

  • Hire a lawyer to send cease-and-desist letters.
  • File complaints under data-protection or copyright laws.
  • Contact website owners directly through an intermediary.
  • Use arbitration/mediation to resolve disputes over content.

Getting slanderous or illegally posted content taken down cuts it off directly at the source.

4. Dispute false information

Actively refute any factually incorrect statements about you or your business.

Strategies to dispute inaccuracies:

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  • Publish contradiction statements with proof on your website.
  • Ask publishers to issue corrections or retractions. 
  • Share your side of the story through social media and press releases.

The more you can get the truth out there, the less credible and influential false claims will be.

5. Distance yourself from past issues

If negative results stem from old mistakes or issues resolved long ago, you should create messaging clearly conveying that these problems are in the past.

Everyone makes mistakes. But when you address them head on, no matter how uncomfortable it is to do so, people tend to respect that (not always—but a good portion of the time).

Why does this matter?

Remember, trust is the real online currency you want to earn. When you focus on building that, then everything else often falls easily into place.

Take a look at some tactics to demonstrate change:

  • Publish apology statements owning past wrongs.
  • Highlight corrective actions you’ve taken.
  • Showcase improvements you’ve made over time. 
  • Emphasize new positive developments.

Drawing attention to the ways you have grown and changed diffuses the power of outdated negative content to harm your reputation.

6. Promote content about other topics

Expand your online footprint by creating content focusing on other subjects besides the negative issues.

It’s misdirection at its finest. For example, if you are watching the news about something terrible but then turn the channel and see every other channel is talking about how the weather is outside, you might just get up and look out the window. Heck, you might just go outside to see for yourself.

It works the same with the story the internet tells about you.

Ways to diversify your content:

  • Spotlight your different products or service lines.
  • Share examples of your (or your organization’s) community involvement. 
  • Feature your own (or your team members’) stories and accomplishments.
  • Publish content showcasing your expertise.
  • Interview your clients and highlight their success stories.

The more you dilute negative topics with a wider variety of fresh, relevant content, the less search visibility those issues will have.

7. Utilize search engine tools

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When you create blog posts (depending on the SEO tool you are using), you can request instant indexing. This tells Google you want this piece of content online ASAP. That’s just one example of how you can start getting your content online faster.

Here are a few other search engine options to curate visibility:

  • Submit content removal requests to Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. 
  • Create a Google Knowledge Panel.

Search engines offer pathways to manage how information appears for name and brand queries.

8. Monitor and track progress

This is all about staying focused on what you’re doing, what’s been working, and what you need to change. This can be time consuming, but there are tools you can use to help you simplify things a bit.

Here are some tips:

  • Set up alerts to monitor search engine results page (SERP) rankings monthly.
  • Track which strategies are successfully pushing content down over time.
  • Identify any new negative content appearing to address it quickly.

Staying on top of changes ensures you maintain control over what shows up in search.

When do search results start moving?

Pushing negative search results down takes consistency and patience over an extended period. In fact, it can seem like a full-time job. That’s why so many people end up hiring a professional.

To see what I mean, you can check out some estimates of how rankings and search results move over time. Clearly things can move faster or slower. It all depends on the amount of content you’re creating, ranking factors, and if you are including those factors within your content.

Here’s a brief look:

3-6 months: Begin seeing incremental improvements as new positive content and backlinks accumulate. Negative content starts shifting down.

12 months: Positive content builds significant ranking strength. Noticeably fewer negative results on page one.

18-24 months: Negative content pushed to pages two and three. Positive content predominates on the first page.

Again, these are estimates. If you work with an online reputation management expert, it’s possible you could see different results. 

Why it’s important to be proactive

Being proactive is key when it comes to reputation management. You need to identify potential issues early and start push-down efforts right away.

If you want to be proactive and see how others view you online right now, grab your free reputation report card. It instantly tells you what everyone else sees about you online.

Don’t you think it’s best to know where to start and be informed?

Benefits of getting ahead of negative content:

  • Results accumulate faster when you get a jump start.
  • Helps prevent reputational damage from spreading.
  • Shows you are getting out in front of problems.
  • Limits future PR crisis-response needs.

Don’t wait for damaging content to dominate search listings. Act now to get ahead.

Partner with reputation management experts

While it’s possible to execute these strategies on your own, working with reputation management professionals can expedite and amplify your results.

Even if you could do this all on your own, why would you?

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Here are a few ways an expert team can turbocharge your efforts:

  • In-depth analysis of existing issues
  • Proven push-down strategies specific to your situation
  • Round-the-clock reputation monitoring
  • Comprehensive link-building and content promotion
  • Ongoing optimization and maintenance

With an expert partner guiding your reputation enhancement efforts, you can regain control of search results faster.

Start by grabbing your free reputation report card. Find out what’s out there. Then, speak to an expert about how to control search results for you or your business and push negative search results down for good.

This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.