Dealing With Negative Search Results

Summary: In this guide, we cover the basics of what you need to know when it comes to fixing negative search results that are ranking for your name.

What is a negative search result?

While this may be obvious to some, there are of course gray areas. Typically, however, we think of “negative search results” as any content indexed online that compromises someone’s personal or professional well-being. What those results actually look like can vary depending on the person, their preferences and their industry. Common types of negative search results include:

  • Complaints, disparaging blog posts, derogatory remarks and bad reviews.
  • Negative press and gossip sites.
  • Mugshots, police blotters, court docs, divorce papers & other legal records.
  • Sexually explicit sites, revenge porn postings, “cheater” forums, etc.
  • Exposed sensitive info including marital status, cell phone, home address, etc.

Bad search results happen to good people

Nowadays, online screenings are the norm. Whether you’re applying to school, interviewing for a new job or angling for a date, a background check is going to happen. Because online screenings are so common, realizing that you have a negative or damaging search result can feel like the end of the world.

While no one wants to deal with search results that show them in a negative light, the reality is that most people will face this at some point.

You’re not alone.

Anyone can say anything about you online without getting in trouble, whether it’s true or not. The prevalence of opinion as fact coupled with the regularity of online screenings means that we need more tools to keep our reputations intact on the web.

At BrandYourself, we see this all the time. From divorce records to angry ex-employees to misleading headlines, everyone is vulnerable to undesirable search results that can tarnish one's reputation both on and off-line. Even if you have avoided damaging search results so far, what about the future?

Luckily, the best way to combat existing harmful search results is the same as safeguarding yourself from them in the future. The best long-term solution is to remove negative search results that you have direct control over, and create a high-quality and engaging personal brand. While it may seem like getting the offending result removed should be the easiest solution, that's only a small part of the process.

Why can't I just get it removed?

Getting something removed from the Internet is incredibly difficult. Unless you fit into one of these unique situations, removal is a taxing process that may or may not work. Removal (outside of those specific cases) typically involves hiring a lawyer, going to court, getting a judge to rule in your favor and getting the site's owner to comply with a court order. This is often time-consuming, expensive, and not guaranteed to work. Also, getting something removed doesn't prevent another undesirable result (or the same one) from popping up elsewhere in the future. We will discuss removal techniques a bit more in depth in our full guide, "The Advanced Guide to Fixing Negative Search Results".

The Most Effective Way to Deal With Negative Results

When it comes to reacting to existing negative search results for your name, we suggest a combination of tactics.

Negative Result Suppression Graphic

  • Get rid of everything you can. It’s amazing how often we shoot ourselves in the foot with what we post or leave up online. Whether you delete an old Facebook post or follow another tactic from our, "Advanced Guide to Fixing Negative Search Results", de-index, delete or remove whatever you can when appropriate.

  • Create a strong personal brand. Personal branding serves the double duty of suppressing irrelevant or damaging search results while creating an online presence that opens doors for you. Suppressing a negative link with positive content is the best long-term strategy to minimize the effects of the undesirable result - especially in light of Google's recent removal policy updates! Suppression is also the best way to safeguard your online presence from something negative climbing the ranks in the future. Start by building a strong foundation of optimized websites and profiles.

  • Maintain, monitor and expand your personal brand. Once you’ve built properties for your personal brand, you have to continuously update them and monitor your overall online presence.

To build a strong personal brand:

BrandYourself’s 3 Pillars of a Strong Personal Brand show you the best way to create a successful brand that wins you opportunities and reduces the chances of anyone seeing your negative search results.

Below is an overview of these pillars, to learn more, visit our Definitive Guide on Personal Branding:


  • Pillar 1: Building a basic brand
  • Pillar 2: Building credibility & an audience
  • Pillar 3: Targeting Opportunities

Software Features That Matter:

When it comes to dealing with negative results, BrandYourself’s DIY reputation management software helps you identify and monitor them. It also shows you the steps necessary to improve your overall personal brand. In terms of your go-to features on the DIY software, we recommend the following:

Pete's Reputation Report

  • Reputation Report: Review the Risk Factors - specifically Damaging Search Results

label your results Google Visibility

  • Google Visibility: Mark all of your search results as “Positive”, “Not me” or “Negative”

Once you’ve identified negative search results, build your Personal Brand using the Reputation Builder. Focus on the: your action plan

  • Personal Brand Action Plan: Follow the highest impact steps you can take to build your personal brand and suppress negative results.

There is no overnight fix when dealing with a negative search result, creating a strong foundation and following a disciplined approach to improving your online reputation is your best defense.

Let BrandYourself’s Managed Services Help

If you're dealing with a negative search result, we highly recommend that you schedule a free consultation with one of our Reputation Advisors or give us a call at 646.863.8226. We'll take a look at the negative result(s) and discuss the best options for suppressing it in search results.

Other Options for Dealing With Negative Search Results

While suppressing the negative with positive content is the best option, there are a few alternatives for specific cases that can be used in conjunction with suppression. As mentioned earlier, read, "The Advanced Guide to Fixing Negative Search Results" to learn more about your options when it comes to dealing with damaging search results.

Building a Strong Personal Brand →