How to deal with negative brand content appearing in organic search

I had a client ask me about dealing with negative brand associated organic search listings last week. Cutting a long story short, the brand in question had gone into administration before being bought out and coming back even stronger than before. The news and related articles regarding the forthcoming closure and liquidation of the business were appearing in brand related organic search listings and Google predictive search when using the brand name. Eg. ‘BRAND NAME + liquidation’.

When asking how to deal with this issue the client in question also made the suggestion that they had considered creating content using the negative keyword phrases but publishing it as a positive spin in order to combat the issue. This is absolutely not the best approach and I wanted to put a short article up outlining this.

Google predictive search

Firstly, Google predictive search, in which the engine predicts potential searches based on the initial keywords you use, is based on both recent popular search trends and recently released content. These will fade in time when the associated negative content ages and users are no longer searching directly for these associated news stories. If you try to put a positive spin on these negative phrases, you are in essence fuelling the fire and keeping them alive for a longer period of time. So this is a big no-no.

Some businesses will want to find a way to combat these articles and pieces of content directly but aside from contacting the hosts this is not often possible. And even then, a news story is a news story which was likely correct at the time, they’re not going to take it down just because you don’t like it. Besides what is important to remember is that while we want it gone from Google predictive search as soon as possible, anyone who actively searches for a negative keyword phrase in full, is a consumer who is already aware of the what ever the negative association maybe. Combat this by ensuring the issue is addressed in some way on your own site when they do reach you, making clear that all is well now or providing some kind of direct response your news section or blog. Just don’t fuel the keyword fire directly!

Action to take

Now, I’ve told you what not to do. What you should be doing is creating as much new and varied brand associated content as you possibly can. This should be done as a varied effort between plenty of your own site content, for which a blog comes in extremely useful for adding new SEO friendly pages and content. But also, with third parties. Step up your PR game, release some big news, talk positively about your brand and get the story out there. The more positive and varied content that exists online associated with your brand, the less likely it is that negative content will surface anywhere near the top search engine rankings. Not to mention as you release more and more varied content associated with your brand, this will alter Google predictive search preferences as well.

So, in summary:

  1. 1

    Address it

    Address big negative news or changes directly on your site. Be upfront for those who want the information.

  2. 2

    Positive content creation

    Create a wealth of new positive content about your brand and brand associations. This needs to be quality and quantity over an extended period to ensure success and the desired affect is achieved.

  3. 3

    Mix up sources

    Ensure positive content is created on your owned assets in bulk but also back this up with a series of PR campaigns or digital outreach programs to ensure the positivity is coming from a variety of sources because the negative content certainly will be.

  4. 4


    Ensure your site’s SEO foundations are solid. Get an audit and look at your link profile as well as your site’s current content effectiveness. If need be you may need to tidy up the site as it stands to help your own assets stand out over the likely very well SEO-designed news outlets hosting the negative content.

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