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Anyone who has said “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” has likely never suffered the consequences of said bad publicity.
It’s no secret that a negative news article can wreak serious havoc on your brand or image. This is especially true when that news article comes from a reputable or popular publication. Those are the most difficult to counter because they tend to rank at the top of search results pages where the whole world can easily see them.
If your company has ever found itself in that position, or wants to have a plan in place in case that does ever happen, there are options.
Enter: online reputation management companies. These were built to help companies remove articles from the internet in order to salvage their online reputation when the work to remove the articles yourself becomes too difficult, overwhelming, or impossible.
The Top Online Reputation Management Companies
- WebiMax – Best overall
- NetReputation – Best for ultra-responsive customer support
- InternetReputation.com – Best for personal reputation management
- Reputation Defense Network – Best for permanently removing false content
- Podium – Best for getting reviews automatically
- SEO Image – Best for legal and medical practices
- Gadook – Best for rebranding after reputation attacks
- BirdEye – Best for getting Google and Facebook reviews
- Reputation.com – Best for knowing your competition’s reputation
- Go Fish Digital – Best for improving Yelp reviews
- Netmark.com – Best for hands-off, fast responses to reputation hits
You can read our full reviews of each reputation management company here.
5 Steps To Remove A News Article From The Internet
As you might imagine, removing a news article from the internet is a complicated process. However, some steps are surprisingly easy. Here are the steps we will walk you through:
- Identify All the Articles You Want to Remove
- Partner with an Online Reputation Management Company
- Request the Online News Publication to Remove the Content
- Ask Google to Remove the News Article
- Suppress the News Article
The Easy Parts of Removing News Articles from the Internet
In theory, removing a news article from Google is simple. The publisher can simply remove it from their site, so it never shows up on the search engines or anywhere on the internet. Alternatively, the publisher can remove identifiable information from the news article, such as your name or brand. Some publishers may even be willing to do these things if you just ask them to.
Further, online reputation management services specialize in this kind of work. Companies like WebiMax offer to remove or suppress negative news articles about your brand from the internet. You don’t need to do much except pay the applicable fees and wait for the content to disappear.
The Difficult Parts of Removing News Articles from the Internet
Removing news articles from the web isn’t always easy. Many publishers aren’t willing to honor takedown requests, especially if an article is getting lots of attention.
You might even encounter some media organizations with complex and bureaucratic content removal policies. Other publishers don’t have formal content removal policies. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your takedown request will be honored.
Some news articles can spread beyond the publisher’s control. It’s possible the content was shared on social media, referred to in other articles, or re-published by other websites. In some cases, there could be multiple follow-up articles related to a single piece of content.
As a result, it can be tough to completely get rid of an article, even if you can convince the publisher to remove the original post.
Unless you can prove that a news article is false, misleading, defamatory, or unverified, Google may not be so willing to remove content either. Plus, this process may require you to hire an attorney and file the appropriate paperwork to get started.
This process can be time-consuming and expensive.
Despite these challenges, you can still remove the offending article. Just follow the step-by-step process below:
Step 1 – Identify All the Articles You Want to Remove
Removing one negative news article is hard enough, but it is doable. However, your efforts will be wasted if the said article has been republished on more than one website. You need to be clear about all the content you want to remove before going ahead. This step will help you formulate a comprehensive strategy for getting rid of the negative articles.
Search Yourself on Google
First, go into the incognito mode in your web browser. Incognito mode prevents Google from modifying the search results based on your previous searches.
You can start with the heading of a news article that you know about. The keywords will bring back results for other articles that may be linked or associated with the original negative press. Then, take note of all the potential content you might want to be removed.
Next, Google your name or brand. Again, Google should bring back all the harmful content associated with your name or brand. You can also type in other identifiable information, such as your name with professional titles or business and your business telephone number or physical address.
Monitor Google for New Negative Content
You’ll want to stay on top of any new articles that may appear while you conduct your process. This case is especially true if the negative news article is sensational or viral. Google Alerts is a valuable tool for this purpose. It will notify you when your target keywords appear on the internet.
Google Alerts is free. Simply type the keywords you want to monitor. You can also customize the alert preferences, such as how often you’d like to receive the alerts. Finally, use the exact keywords you used during the initial Google search. Some examples of good target keywords include your name or your company name.
Finally, be sure to monitor your Google Alerts dashboard while taking the following steps. It will ensure that you can act quickly when new negative content appears.
Check Social Media for Article Mentions
Sometimes, it is easier to find news articles that mention you or your brand by going through social media. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are common areas where users share news articles. The author of the news article often lets readers know about a new article on social media as well, so you can check out the article as quickly as possible.
News articles that involve some controversy tend to generate plenty of reaction on social media too. If you are in the midst of a series of negative news articles against you or your company, it can be difficult to find every article simply by using Google.
To search Twitter for certain hashtags or keywords, you will want to enter the search term in the search bar on Twitter. Then select to use an advanced search, so you can apply filters that will make it easier to find news articles.
To search Facebook for news articles, click the magnifying glass icon and enter your search terms. You can add filters, which will be helpful in focusing the search results you receive.
You also can follow the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of certain news organizations that you know will be covering you or your company, such as news organizations that focus on your industry.
An online reputation management company can help you monitor social media, as it will have the tools at hand to keep an eye on these sites on your behalf.
Step 2 – Partner with an Online Reputation Management Company
The best strategy for removing negative content from the internet is to partner with an expert. Again, ORM companies specialize in this kind of work. These companies are your best bet for successfully removing unwanted content.
Sign Up for WebiMax
We advocate for WebiMax as your preferred online reputation management partner. The company charges on a month-to-month basis to keep your costs low.
WebiMax has been in business since 2008. It has an excellent track record of successfully sanitizing company and individual online images, including removing or suppressing harmful content.
Get Your Free Quote
Visit the WebiMax website and click “Get Your Free Quote“. You’ll be asked for your contact details and a brief description of your problem.
Then, a WebiMax agent will get in touch with a proposal for how the company can help, what the work will cost, and how long it will take.
WebiMax also offers a free reputation analysis. This is an excellent option in case you missed anything during your research. The reputation analysis includes a detailed report of all the negative content about your business on the internet. You’ll also receive a timeframe and proposal for removing each type of content.
Finally, pay the fee and let WebiMax do its job. Generally, the company uses one of two tactics to remove negative news articles from the internet.
The first is the legal route. WebiMax has a team of legal experts on hand for this purpose. This option works if there’s evidence that the news articles are false, defamatory, or constitute libel.
Alternatively, the company’s PR team will lead a campaign to suppress the negative content. This might involve creating new positive content or spinning the negative articles to your favor. This method is often referred to as Reverse SEO or search engine suppression.
Either way, you’ll receive a full breakdown of the steps WebiMax will take to remove the news articles. You’ll also receive an accurate quote and a realistic timeframe for the job. Again, we think this step is your best bet for removing negative articles from the internet.
Step 3 – Request the Online News Publication to Remove the Content
This step works if you’re sure there is only one negative news article. Otherwise, it may not be feasible if there are multiple articles. In that case, it’s better to use an online reputation management service.
Contacting the news publication may still be worth trying in some cases.
Find the Publication’s Contact Information
Contacting the correct person from the beginning increases your chances of getting the publication to remove the article. Usually, this person is the editor. You can find their information on the company’s Contact Us page.
Also, be sure to check the publication’s website thoroughly. You might come across a formal content removal policy. In this case, the policy will outline the content removal process and the appropriate contact person. Alternatively, you can contact the publication directly and ask about their removal process.
Make Your Case
Online news publications have many reasons not to remove published content. Unfortunately for you, these outlets have many grounds for resisting these requests. Most of these reasons also have valid legal grounds. Some of the legal defenses available to news outlets in the face of content removal requests include:
- Newsworthiness defense
- Substantial truth doctrine
- Wire service defense
- Fair report privilege
- Incremental hard doctrine
- Opinion and fair comment privilege
- Statute of limitations
It is worth speaking to a lawyer about these potential obstacles. For example, some states have a statute of limitations regarding defamation lawsuits. Therefore, publishers may deny your removal request if it has already been one or three years since the article was published.
Similarly, the fair report privilege may mean that the publication has a legal right to publish the article. This defense can be effective if the article is based on an official public document. Again, a lawyer can help you navigate these potential defenses. This way, you’ll be able to make a solid case.
Submit Your Content Removal Request
Again, it’s worth leaving this task to your lawyer. Many publications offer only one chance to submit your request. Having the correct supporting documents increases your chances of success. For example, court documents about an expunged or sealed record, character references, or impact statements may help change an editor’s mind.
Step 4 – Ask Google to Remove the News Article
It’s worth pointing out that Google doesn’t own the content on its search engine. Therefore, the search engine cannot delete or remove the content from the internet. However, there are instances when Google will consider removing content from its search engine results.
The content will still exist on the internet. But it won’t appear on the results page when people type in the relevant keywords. This is a good option while you work on getting the article permanently removed, which might take some time and effort.
Do Your Research
Google only honors some content removal requests. So you’ll need to find out if the offending news article meets Google’s removal threshold. Some of the types of content Google might consider removing from its search engine includes:
- Outdated content that is no longer online.
- Content that contains personal protected information.
- Articles that violate intellectual property rights, such as trademark or copyright.
- Content that doesn’t comply with a court order.
Again, it’s worth talking to an online reputation management expert or attorney to assess your chances of success.
Submit Your Removal Request
Next, visit Google’s legal page to submit your request. You’ll be asked to specify the Google service you’d like the content removed from. For example, you can submit a request to remove the news article from Google Search.
Finally, follow the prompts and provide as much information as possible about the request.
Step 5 – Suppress the News Article
Removing a news article from the internet is difficult. So another option is to suppress the negative commentary. This strategy involves pushing the offending article where it’s less visible.
For instance, you can push the article to Google’s second or third search results page. This way, only positive content appears on the first page of search results.
Track the Negative Article’s Keywords
The first step to suppressing a news article is finding out why it’s trending. This secret typically lies in keywords. For example, the article may appear when people Google your name or brand in the search results.
Optimize Your Existing Content
New content takes time to rank on search engines. But you can optimize existing content to suppress the negative articles. You can use the keywords you identified to optimize your existing content.
Some of the strategies you can use to optimize the content include:
- Integrating relevant keywords into page headings.
- Adding more keywords to the existing content.
- Including relevant, optimized images in the content.
- Incorporating internal links with the target keywords.
Create Fresh Content
Google prefers new and fresh content, meaning the news article will become outdated. So, naturally, fresher content will push it down the search results in due time. You can accelerate this process by creating new, positive content. Also, be sure to promote and optimize the content for maxim effect.