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Old 11-30-2005   #1
rumbinder
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Question Dealing With Negative Listings About You

re: Google ranking recognizing "negative" info about companyp

Co. I work for has number one ranking on Google. We have a 3rd party handling our SEO. BUT a litigation in 1999 involving the SEC - that citing comes up as #2 and is VERY negative for us (even though ultimately the SEC ruling was benign). Naturally the listing stays "alive" becasue so many people want to click/read "the dirt". We've tried every thing to get the SEC ranking pushed down. Any suggestions? Does Google ever "retired" info based on relevancy of "old news"?
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Old 11-30-2005   #2
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Simple solution.

1. On your core business site build a page that just trumps you up. A total company booster page.
2. Buy a 3rd party domain
3. On the index page of that domain you'll need to use some programming to detect useragent. If the user agent is Googlebot then use a 302 redirect to the URL that is "the dirt" if it is any other user then redirect them to your page on your core site that boosts your companies accomplishments etc.

Now you'll have to point a link to your 3rd party site's home page. DO NOT USE THE CORE BUSINESS SITE when linking to the 3rd party domain. I would suggest droping a link in a blog or if you can get it listed in a directory. The link is critical because this will put the spiders into the 302 redirect.

What will happen. This exploits the 302 hijacking flaw in Google. Your 3rd party site will inherit the rankings of "the dirt" page. But when users click on it they will trigger the programming and will be redirected to your home sites company booster page.

The 3rd party site that you buy should be hosted seperately and be totaly detached from the main company, registration and all.

Since the SEC doesn't monitor the rankings of it's pages when it comes to case by case topics. No one will ever even notice. And who would give a care anyways.

Here is some reference code in PHP. This is what would go in your index page in the 3rd party domain.

PHP Code:
<?
if(strstr(strtolower($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']),"googlebot")){

    
header("Location: http://www.offensive-slanderous-content.com/the-dirt.html");
    
}else{
   
    
header ("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
    
header("Location: http://www.yoursite.com/good-page.html");

}
// end if
?>
Since this is aggressive I'm sure you'll get a few warnings from your current seo and even some of the holy rollers in this forum.

Just know this. You are doing the aggressive tactic on a 3rd party domain that has no connection to your core site. Therefore no penalties will be placed on your core domain. Gotta love those loopholes

Last edited by seomike : 11-30-2005 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 11-30-2005   #3
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Start sending out online press releases, optimised for your company name (particularly title) - which shouldn't be too hard. A few PR sites (and distribution channels) will pick them up and end up ranking top 10.

You could also submit to directories that give sites their own page - they usually end up ranking well for brand.
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Old 11-30-2005   #4
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Google and an old (1999) SEC listing that is negative for company

Thx MG.
We have found that press releases do end up on page one and I continue to try and get our PR dept to write, write, write and distribute, etc. Management's expectation is so unrealistic - my predecessor (sp?) was told "call Google and ask how much it will cost to get that SEC thing removed"....LOL.

We owned a lot of urls and are going make static sites with them, put links to our corporate site (that is at #1) and start a PPC campaign for those particular products (that will have the static pages) and then do some more cross linking.

Tell me this - the company I have hired (for SEO) - says that certain entities (.govs, IRS, SEC, etc) are weighted by Goog as "authority sites" there for they factor into the crawler algorithm with more significance. Is that true? And if so - got any suggestions on how to get other "authority" entities to link to us so we can counter weight that SEC thing?
Thanks MG - I appreciate your help and time.
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Old 11-30-2005   #5
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As seomike himself says, trying to exploit the Google hijacking flaw is indeed aggressive and probably ill advised.

For one, the flaw isn't guaranteed to work. Google after our indexing summit that they'd fixed the hijacking problem. Not everyone agrees that's the case. If Google's right, then it doesn't work. If Google's wrong, it's still the case that just doing a 302 redirect isn't a guarantee that you'll hijack a listing. But detecting Google and feeding up a 302 to just it would be cloaking, against its stated rules and possibly going to cause you to get kicked out of Google, if it's spotted.

For those trying to understand what the entire hijacking issue is, see http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050801-130330. It's been well documented over the past year, hardly a secret and something the search engines still seem to be dragging their feet on.
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Old 11-30-2005   #6
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Quote:
litigation in 1999 involving the SEC - that citing comes up as #2 and is VERY negative for us (even though ultimately the SEC ruling was benign). Naturally the listing stays "alive" becasue so many people want to click/read "the dirt".
Right, there were some local "independent" VC firms (boiler room operations) here in LA who ran into afoul with SEC, but they were guilty from day one. One was for outright boiler room fraud and one for a Ponzi scheme. Those can still be found, even on a search for names of the individuals involved + the company.

But if your client was absolved by the SEC, it is damaging. Kind of makes one wonder if competitors aren't linking to the old article to keep it afloat. We get awful suspicious with time, don't we?

If they're reputable investment brokers, then the best thing would be to go through "normal" acceptable channels and try to get 9 other listings to wash down the negative one, hoping that the freshness factor might give an edge, if they're from reliable, trustworthy sources.

Assuming they're a brokerage company at a physical location, there are press releases, submitting articles to quality online publications, sponsoring local charitable and community fund-raising events where a link is given for sponsoring companies - various kinds of legitimate community involvement both on a local level and in the industry.
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Old 12-01-2005   #7
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Google and an old (1999) SEC listing that is negative for company

To All,

Interesting responses. The "ill-advised" was not wasted on my eyes but the aggressive approach might be the "act of desparation".

Regarding the comment about "competitors linking to keep link alive" - a "who is linked" search indicates there is some of that but I am not sure how to "undo" those undesirable links, and the listing (article) belongs to SEC not us so there really isn't anything I can do - or is there (advice welcomed)?

I think beefing up the press releases is a "healthy" and tried/true method. The site is built in Cold Fusion - so if any of you have concerns/recommendations about that challenge - I could use those too. My SEO partner is telling me the crawlers are "blocked" to move deep into the various pages because of the way the code is written. It is Cold Fusion, dynamic data for much of the content, pulling from our servers.

How cruical is it to get other sites to link to us? Would it aggressively push the #2 ranking (the SEC litigation) down to page 2? Thoughts?

If I have loaded up too much in this post and deviated too much from the initial Subject words - my apologies - I am a newbie

Many, many thanks.
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Old 12-01-2005   #8
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It's not just ill-advised. It might not work at all. The press release strategy is better, and you might consider perhaps creating content to address the criticism directly.

You should also look at:

Using Search for Public Relations & Reputation Management

Public Relations Via Search Engines
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Old 12-01-2005   #9
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If you are really struggling to push the listing out of the SERPs with press releases, perhaps consider approaching a decent site and offer them some cash to host a page about your site.

As long as it's not out of place (ie, is reasonably relevant to the site), you could do a bio style article on the other site - optimise it for your brand etc.

You might find that press releases don't rank as well a few months down the line - a permanent page would probably be better (I just checked some PR's I did a while back that had been ranking for brand term and they aren't there anymore).

Does the SEC listing link to you?

MG
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Old 12-01-2005   #10
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Google and an old (1999) SEC listing that is negative for company

Thank you Danny.

We are doing just that - developing a new site that will be loaded up w/facts - good stuff about what we do, our products, etc (similar to what walmart has done). We will speak directly to the litigation cite, recognizing that it will possibly increase the clicking to see (a chance we have to take).

I realize it will take some time (months maybe?) to get Google to acknowledge the new site (it's my understanding that the crawlers "weight" those urls that have been around a long time) but our hope is that we can eventually get benefit out of the "facts" site.

I appreciate your input.

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Old 12-01-2005   #11
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I think you'll find there's actually a ton of ideas and advice people have to offer on the situation, things to consider. The former title of "Google and negative ranking" I don't think communicated the situation clearly enough to people. I've given it a new title, plus I'm going to toss it out as a featured thread, to see if we can't generate some more thoughts for you.
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Old 12-01-2005   #12
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Google and an old (1999) SEC listing that is negative for company

MarketingGuy,

Thanks for additional suggestions. You are correct - Press releases have a "limited shelf life" and boom - they are gone or sink to pages 2, 3, etc. You idea about approaching a well known or better known/popular entity and offering to pay for linking is a good one. I hadn't thought of that. Granted, with some of our business relationships (vendors, research sources), I have contacted respective webmasters and asked for permission to link to them but haven't said "dontcha wanna link to us?".

So now I shall, especially if we were to offer to pay for the priviliege (sp?).

As for linking - no - the SEC is not showing up as linking to us and when I perform a "link: search" on the actual SEC page that covers our info, "No links" is the message I get. DANG that ol SEC... what a challenge. Maybe Danny can put that one out there at his next conference as a topic to discuss "how to undo, the damage done by old sins as captured by "big players".
As always - your comments are appreciated.
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Old 12-01-2005   #13
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Former Enron CEO Using Paid Search Listings is interesting to read, in that it covers how paid ads are used to counter bad PR.

Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism from the Online Journalism Review is a very, very long and good article that looks at the tricky issues in all this -- the desire to squelch criticism versus the critics who often have good points to make.

Also, Reputation Monitoring & Management at our SES Chicago show next week deals with this issue specifically.
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Old 12-01-2005   #14
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We were asked to help a Fortune 500 client who had a major product whose SERPs were filled with protest sites. I.e., if you searched for "Acme Widgets", you'd get a bunch of sites with page titles like "Acme Widgets Kill People". It was just about that bad.

We never implemented a full campaign to correct this, but the main solutions we proposed were SEOing the main site to at least appear at the top of the results (they weren't there) for common searches and using additional domains to push down the protest sites in the SERPs for the higher volume keywords.

The problem was somewhat similar to yours - protest sites often enjoy good linkage because lots of other protest sites, individual sites, blogs, etc. link to them. Similarly, the SEC and other government sites often enjoy strong linkage and rankings.

If you do find neutral third party sites linking to the negative content, you might selectively contact them to explain that the case was settled favorably and request either removing the link or adding a link to an explanation of the outcome; be careful, though, as if you hit the wrong person, he might feel he's being manipulated and stir the pot some more.

A press release approach is a good idea, but whether that alone would displace deeplinked content at a .gov site is hard to say. I think some additional targeted domain development focused on the most important keyword combinations might be necessary.

And, as suggested above, for people who DO become aware of the old case, be sure they can find an honest explanation on the main site.
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Old 12-01-2005   #15
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Another thought - if your business is broad enough to justify it (and your brand name is unique enough), you could split your services / remit / target areas into new sites or subdomains - these will eventually rank better than any external content.

(edit: posted at the same as Rogerd )

Look at "Monster Jobs" for example, the first few pages on Google results are all owned by the company.

However displacing a strong .gov is a tall order (especially bumping them from no.2 to page 2). You may want to consider check search frequencies around the litigation - if people come across that page they might decide to further research it. If you could optimise content on your site to catch those surfers, then potentially you could minimise any negative impact it has.

I doubt they would even acknowledge the request, but how about simply asking the SEC if they would remove or amend the page (adding a link to your site and perhaps a clarification that the ruling was benign). I would be as polite as possible if you are going this route - you don't want to piss them off! So no threats of legal action - just say that you feel that it has an uncessarily negative impact on your business, etc.

Is a rebrand out of the question? How much capital has been spent on the current brand / domain? Probably not an option but worth considering if you feel the negative effect of the SEC listing is too great.

MG
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Old 12-01-2005   #16
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Google and an old (1999) SEC listing that is negative for company

Wow! You folks are amazing - I dont feel so stranded out here in searchland anymore.

Danny - thx for renaming and posting as featured thread. I knew my "title" was not on target but I didn't quite know how to express it. Thanks for renaming and placing out there in "feature land". Also, do I need to rename this thread (and if I do - will I lose all the threads) or shall I keep what we have going, going. I chose Members only section because I wanted quality - people and responses....I have certainly gotten that!

MG
you wrote simply asking the SEC if they would remove or amend the page
- Well -that's been tried, albeit questionable whether we sent the "best person" into that den (I was relieved it wasn't me!) - I think the SEC legal dept probably had a good chuckle over it.

R
you wrote:I think some additional targeted domain development focused on the most important keyword combinations might be necessary. >>
- That is our hope. I will certainly update you all, if we see "success" in hte making.

Thanks all.
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Old 12-01-2005   #17
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If it's a US government publication, then it's probably not protected by copyright. If you have some positive spin to put on it, you might also consider putting a copy of it on your own site with a little commentary or introduction.

I would not recommend that anyone follow seomike's instructions for content hijacking.
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Old 12-01-2005   #18
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Cool GoogleBomb other Pages on the SEC

Well it's the SEC, so Googlebowling is not going to work.

http://seoblackhat.com/category/googlebowling/

My solution would be to point alot of high value links at OTHER parts of the SEC site that have your company's name listed. The best would be blowout earnings numbers or other positive results. Google is not likely to show more than 2 results in the SERPs from the SEC about your site. So if you Googlebomb your own companies name to different pages on the SEC website, those pages would likely usurp the negative article in the SERPs.

Send me this months SEO Consulting Fee - I've earned it.

Last edited by Marcia : 12-01-2005 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 12-01-2005   #19
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number one ranking on Google
And the SEC listing is #2. First off, are those rankings for actual industry or commercial search terms, competitive or otherwise, or for a search on the company name itself? That makes a difference.

Added:

Quote:
Tell me this - the company I have hired (for SEO) - says that certain entities (.govs, IRS, SEC, etc) are weighted by Goog as "authority sites" there for they factor into the crawler algorithm with more significance. Is that true?
If it's just a listing for the company name with only two sites showing up, yours and the SEC page, then it's a moot point, even if it's so.

Besides, there's also a "freshness" component that has to be weighed against whatever advantage some TLDs might or might not have. My guess is that it's newer links from competitors (check Yahoo for IBLs for the page, not Google) that might be keeping it afloat, along with lack of competition for the search term.

Quote:
We owned a lot of urls and are going make static sites with them, put links to our corporate site (that is at #1) and start a PPC campaign for those particular products (that will have the static pages) and then do some more cross linking.
Do some press releases; even if they're a short term solution they can provide temporary relief while a longer term plan is put into place.

First, have your SEO "optimize" so that you get not just one listing, but an indented listing as well - that takes care of #1 and #2.

Then, if you still own those other domains, put a blog up with a feed on one of them - you should have one, anyway. That's 3 out of the 10 I assume are needed that will rank for the company name, even just by virtue of linking to the company site.

For additional domains, it's not necessarily cross-linking that's all that important, but what will be, eventually, is that they point to the parent domain with the right anchor text and have some quality inbounds of their own.

Quote:
And if so - got any suggestions on how to get other "authority" entities to link to us so we can counter weight that SEC thing?
IMHO this is more about numbers - namely 10.

Last edited by Marcia : 12-01-2005 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 12-01-2005   #20
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>Google is not likely to show more than 2 results in the SERPs from the SEC about your site…… Googlebomb your own companies name to different pages on the SEC website

Hard to argue with that one… your SEO guy should be able to arrange something like this with no problem.
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