In this blog we explore the effect of negative news on sole traders or practitioners. Our approach on how to deal with negative business reviews can be found here.
Negative content is something which can seriously damage an individual or company, often permanently and worse than the publisher realises – or sadly, perhaps they do.
This is why it’s so important for not only businesses but particularly those running a practice, such as an accountant, lawyer, doctor, dentist or consultant – to understand the implications of negative content and how to deal with it in a swift and effective manner in order to protect their reputation.
In case of the latter especially, their name is essentially their ‘brand’ behind the practice, so when a prospective client looks them up on Google, it can be deeply troubling for them to come across sensational but out-of-date historical news links such as a doctor or lawyer accused of malpractice, sexual misconduct, bullying and financial misappropriation.
Often, the author will present a news story in such a way that the individual practice or business is portrayed to the public in an overly negative light, causing undue and often irreversible reputational damage.
However, the good news is that you can effectively deal with such inflammatory content – in fact, in many cases, it can be pushed down so that the chances of people discovering it are as low as possible, while sometimes, it can be taken down altogether.
So, let’s go ahead and type your private practice or business name into Google, hit ‘Enter’ and see what we get. Did the results make you anxious or confused? Were they unsettling? Any possible negative results may not be apparent right away, so you might want to check image results as well, including the sites they are linked to.
If you come across any of the following regarding your individual practice, brand or business, then you definitely need to deal with it as soon as you can:
On average, more than 90% of Google users find the answers they seek on the first search results page. If you’re someone who’s trying to grow their practice, you can imagine how critical it is to populate that first page with the most positive content and links – which are a true indication of your integrity, respectability and trust – are presented to those searching.
If the links you see on the results pages contain any negative content, then there are ways to deal with them, although the task may be made more difficult if there is an ongoing legal dispute.
With that said, these simple steps can help you suppress negative search results on Google and even remove them entirely in some cases.
Ever heard of “your own worst enemy”? At times, business owners can publish content which comes back to haunt them. So, just to play it safe, what you want to do is thoroughly scrutinise all your websites and social media accounts. Look for any images, text, links, tweets, posts, etc. which may be defamatory or negative.
Many business owners tend to ‘overshare’ content online in order to grow and build more connections, and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t be too harsh on yourself – but remember that the above is a good practice to engage in from time to time, as it will improve your reputation score and keep your online search results nice and clean.
Any link that pops up with negative content has to come from an outside website – or an author/publisher. If you can’t get Google to remove it for you, then you can approach the publisher directly.
Simply click on the link that you would like removed from Google, and find any contact details you can on the content publisher, author or writer. Explain your removal request and keep your communication extremely polite, direct and formal, while providing supporting evidence as to why you feel that the claims in the content are unfounded or do not paint an accurate picture.
This is a method that both brands and individual practices can use to suppress negative search results by uploading positive content. You can accomplish this by creating a blog, launching a new website, creating new social media accounts or even submitting press releases.
The catch here is that the newer, SEO-optimised links, posts and sites will (hopefully) rank higher than your current negative results, which means the higher-ranking and positive results will pop up first.
Even if you are cleared of the allegations by a professional body, where you have a right to privacy and return to practice – the original allegations tend to remain prominent online, without any formal apology from the press as such – let alone removing such old and irrelevant content. Furthermore, it can be argued by news outlets and even Google that such ‘stories’ always remain visible online, all in the name of public interest. This, in turn, means that a ‘right to be forgotten’ request made by you will be turned down 60% of the time.
Commit to staying aware of any negative content which may exist around your brand or practice on the internet. You might find that detractors and/ or competitors will probably notice improvements in your online reputation and may work to find new angles of online attack. By continuously monitoring your brand you can seek to stay a step ahead.
Being in the midst of a media storm is a very traumatic time and difficult to always make the correct and rational decisions. The best time then to consider your response as to how you would deal with negative news is in a calm manner and regard it as a form of operational planning. Details can be found here.
Don’t take your online brand reputation for granted – find out how you’re currently ranking and how to quickly deal with any negative content so that it doesn’t impact the growth or success of your private practice.
Coming up with a good online reputation management strategy (which includes dealing with any negative content) can be a challenge for most businesses, especially individual practices who’s brand name (and revenue) hinges on online reputation and ‘general public image’.
Contact us here to discuss your reputational issue in complete confidence.