Google completely sanctions your attempts to push out a negative web page from its search results. You just have to make sure you understand its search algorithm and its webmaster guidelines.

Assess the damage

If you’ve not conducted a Google audit since you suffered your reputation attack, this is your first task. As mentioned on Day 18, your audit should cover the first 30 results that are displayed when you Google your reputation. If you don’t see your detractor’s attack, then you can breathe a sigh of relief, but don’t let complacency set in. You should conduct a new Google audit daily for the next two weeks, then extend it to weekly for the next month or two, before settling back to your normal schedule. This process will ensure you can move quickly, should the attack start to rank inside the first 30 results.

Ramp up your optimization

When you look at your audit, pay attention to any web pages that you Own, Control, or Influence, but haven’t yet optimized. Do you see any opportunities to add a Superbrand link? Are you using pronouns in your descriptions when you could be talking about yourself in the third-person?

Now would also be a good time to ramp up your efforts to publish Amazing content. If you previously put off designing an infographic or a creating a new video because you decided it would be too costly, it might be time to reconsider that decision. Compare the cost of investing in web content that might rank above the negative web page versus the lifetime cost of your detractor’s attack finding a permanent home in your Google reputation.

Buy your way out

Many online review sites are less than honorable. Poke around the underbelly of the internet and you will find sites that post anything from unverified customer reviews to naked photos of a scorned lover. Many of these sites have some kind of “advocacy” program that, for a small fee, will ensure the negative review is quietly removed. I use quotes around advocacy because many of them are nothing short of extortion. Still, paying a sleezeball webmaster $500 to make the nastiness go away could be a lot cheaper than the amount of time, effort, and money needed to push it down in Google’s search results.

Hire an ORM professional

If you find all of this to be completely over your head, then you may decide it worth the investment to hire an online reputation management (ORM) firm. There are literally hundreds of ORM firms and consultants—all willing to take your money. Like any industry, you have large firms, such as, all the way down to individual consultants.

The road ahead

This is not going to be a quick fix. It may take you many months to fully clean up your Google reputation. Let that be a reminder and an encouragement to never let this happen again. Remember, you may be able to clean up the mess this time, but your stakeholders will be looking for consistency from you going forward. That’s why you need to circle back to the core of your reputation, your character, and make an effort to be better.

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