Can you get rid of negative publicity on Google? Let me Google that for you…

by Kenny Murray

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Should Google’s “right to be forgotten” be wiped from your memory? Or should it form part of a digital PR strategy?

Person with head in hands looking at google as part of a digital pr storyGOOGLE is a bona fide behemoth. It dominates the digital landscape and it has penetrated almost every home, business and location in the world.

In fact, the Silicon Valley giant, which originated as a search engine operator, but is now is so much more, looms so large that its name is now a verb; to “google” something is synonymous around the world with the act of using a search engine – regardless of whether it’s done via Google or one of its  competitors.  Yep, Google owns a verb. Now that’s some powerful stuff

So how does the ordinary person or small business hope to have some impact on how they appear in Google search results? It has a record of almost every single thing ever written on the internet. From random rumours on social media, to forum posts and news articles. If it has been typed, chances are Google has it or can find it.

This isn’t always such a good thing. How many people are haunted by online content from their past – the type that show up in online search results and are likely to adversely affect chances of landing a job or even getting a date?

This is such a problem that as part of its preparations for the 2017 general election, the Conservatives announced plans to give young people the power to erase embarrassing content they posted as children.

This also has implications for businesses. Imagine if someone – maybe a disgruntled customer or former employee – started spreading malicious or false rumour about your business. That information could feasibly show as one of the top search results.  This could kill a brand or business.

By the end of this blog post, we’ll have saved you Googling all the different ways to remove these negative results and let you know of a much more effective and successful way to combat Google’s search results.

How do I stop this?

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are amazing principles and worth keeping. However, in an age of search engines, it can be almost impossible to move away from negative rumours that have spread or move on from negative actions of former staff, owners of a business etc.

It’s a sad fact that it’s no longer a case of today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping’s. Google has a memory that’s incredibly difficult to change.

Right to be Forgotten

It is possible to have results removed from Google under the ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation. Thanks to an EU ruling (how this will change post Brexit, we’re unsure) you can lodge a notice with Google to have a search result removed from Google within European Union countries.

However, even then it’s after meeting a stringent set of rules that are as vague as they are tough to meet. The search results you want to hide will also still be available if someone were to use Google.ca (Google Canada) rather than Google.co.uk.

To have a link removed from Google it needs to contain excessive information on an individual, be out of date, and be of no current public interest.

Google says they reserve the right to refuse removal requests for information relating to financial scams, malpractice, criminal convictions, public conduct of officials and more. You then need to supply name, links, an explanation for removal request and photo id.

An example search link (entirely fictitious!) that could be removed would be, “James Smith caught behaving in a lewd manner at John Wayne Bakery”.

While culprit James Smith could seek to have the links removed he would have to satisfy Google’s check and balance. However, what about the entirely innocent bakery business? They would find it extremely difficult to make a case for these links to be removed.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that the online material doesn’t disappear –  it’s only search links and terms that will be removed. Even if John Wayne bakery was able to have the links with the business name removed, the same material would still be found using generic terms, for example searches like “Edinburgh Bakery disgusting”.

In fact, the process is so difficult that while Google has received more than 720,000 removal requests, it has accepted only about 43 percent of them.

Is there a quick fix?

If you somehow manage to jump through all those hoops, source all possible ways to find the links and report them and have them all removed, that’s great.

However, every single publisher who has their link removed will be informed that you requested this and as seen in the case of the BBC may republish this so people can discover who has filed these requests.

The reality is that there is no quick fix.  No amount of googling will solve the issue of, “once it’s on the internet, it’s there for good”.

Is there any solutions to appearing in Google Searches?

Of course, there are still ways to have a positive impact and influence on search results. It’s not an instant solution and it’s not easy but it’s something we can help with.

As a PR agency with years of experience building up our clients in the media, one thing we know for certain is that if you appear in online news, your business tends to rank higher in Google searches. If those stories happen to be positive stories, told by an expert PR agency based in Edinburgh, all the better, isn’t it?

We work with clients on a daily basis to build up blog posts, online news stories and more so that they can reach out to customers, businesses and other stakeholders. However, it does have the added bonus that it helps push down possible negative search results that may appear. All without the painful form-filling, googling, worrying and eventual defeat that form filling carries with it.

We like to transform the everyday into what makes us proud. Let us do this for you and your digital PR.

Are you having issues with Google results?

Get in touch and learn how we could help give your online reputation a positive boost. No issues with Google but still want insurance against any negative news stories or just want to get your business in the news? We could help.

Call us on 0131 561 2234 to learn how we could help or fill in the form below:

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