Unfavorable Articles in Google Search Results

  • Posted on: 8 August 2012
  • By: Margaux

"When you Google [our organization's name], a couple of unfavorable articles come up in the top 10 results. How can we fix this?" someone asked me today. Here's how I replied.

Nobody knows *exactly* how Google determines what results to show. But we do know some factors that are certainly important:

  • Title of the page or article itself (in this case, ALL of the top 50 results include the organization's name in the title of the page or post)
  • Relevancy / popularity / authority of the website on which the article is posted
  • Date of the post (newer = more relevant, generally speaking)

In this case, the unfavorable articles were posted on high-traffic sites. They also both include quite a few comments from the user community. Both probably have a lot to do with the high rankings.

But since the articles aren't slanderous and don't contain false information, you probably won't get very far by asking the authors to remove them. In fact it would likely do more harm than good. Therefore, the best way to bump these down lower in the results is to supersede them with newer articles that Google will see as "more relevant".

Since everything you post on your own site is lumped together in the top search result, no matter what you do there it won't affect the 2nd through 50th results. Your new "more relevant" content needs to be on other sites. Some ideas:

  • Positive press coverage, especially in prominent outlets, and where they include your organization's name in the title.
  • Leverage relationships with bloggers in your field to get several more rave reviews out there, again with your organization's name in the title. For example:
    • Offer to guest-post for a blogger (most of them appreciate the relief!). A guest-post could be written by you, a board member, someone who has benefited from your organization's services, etc.
    • Do any of your people or beneficiaries have their own blogs? Arrange for them to post about how wonderful it is to work with you and how it has helped his/her life (even if just anecdotally).
    • Ask a blogger to post about something new you've done.

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