With online reputation management, repairing a damaged Google reputation is often the hardest task to achieve. Just as a scandal sells newspapers, so too it generates lots of backlinks to your attacker’s web page.
Success is typically measured by your ability to push the negative Google result off of the first page–fewer people click-through to page two, when conducting reputation research. However, there are a few tricks you can try to completely remove your attacker from Google’s index.
1. Did they violate their registrar’s policies?
TechDirt points to an interesting outcome which involved an attack on Ryanair by the site IHateRyanair.co.uk. While airing your grievances is not something that will normally violate a registrars policies, placing affiliate ads and earning money from said grievances is a violation–at least for the registrar Nominet. IHateRyanair.co.uk earned £322, which was enough for Nominet to order the domain name be turned over to Ryanair.
Lesson: Find out where your attacker’s web site is registered and hosted. Does it violate any of their terms and conditions?
2. Are they violating your copyright?
Copyright laws and “fair use” are minefields best navigated by lawyers. However, most attackers have limited knowledge of copyright laws, and even more limited funds to hire an attorney to help them figure them out. Filing a notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and sending it to Google, could be enough to get that negative page removed from Google’s index.
From my understanding, Google will remove the page, unless the notice is contested by the person that published the content. If they do that, it gets a lot more complicated. However, it doesn’t cost anything to file a DMCA notice, so it’s worth a shot. Just don’t abuse it. If there’s not actually any copyright infringement, then you’re opening up a can of worms.
Lesson: Google will acquiesce to an uncontested DMCA takedown notice.
3. Is the site spamming Google?
Take a close look at Google’s spam guidelines, then hire an SEO to take a close look at your attacker’s website? Are they using invisible text? Cloaking? Duplicating their content across multiple websites? Each of those are a good reason for Google to kick them out of their search index.
Lesson: You want Google to have the best index right? So, help them clean it up by reporting any spammers!
4. Did they violate Google’s AdSense policies?
Perhaps a more effective strategy is to look for violations of Google’s AdSense rules. Does the attacker have half a dozen different AdSense units on each page? That’s a violation. Are they displaying text to encourage visitors to click on an ad? Another violation. Heck, even a simple pop-up is a violation of Google AdSense’s policies!
Violation does not result in the removal of the site from Google’s index, but it does remove them from AdSense. That could be the only way the attacker makes any kind of revenue. If they lose that, it could be a big deal! I’m not saying you should blackmail your attacker into removing their attack on your company, but you may want to point out that they are violating AdSense’s policies.
Lesson: A site that loses its revenue source, loses its motivation.
5. Obtain a summary judgement/court order.
If you can’t get your attacker to take down their post, maybe you can get it kicked out of Google’s index. If you can obtain a summary judgement from a court, you might be able to get the judge to order the removal of the page from Google’s index. Google’s too busy organizing the world’s information to argue against the thousands of similar orders sent its way each month.
There’s a lot more to this, than I can speak to here. Consult an attorney and see if there’s any kind of defamation or trademark infringement you can build a solid case on.
Lesson: Out of Google’s “site,” out of mind!
There you have it! Some out of the box tactics for combating a negative listing in Google’s index. I should probably state that I am not an attorney and this post is not meant to be legal advice. It is merely for your entertainment. Always consult an attorney before undertaking any legal strategy….blah, blah, blah!