This post was mostrecently updated on August 19, 2020
The internet has become everyone’s go-to source for nearly all types of information. So what happens when you find false or misleading news about yourself or your business online? Learn how to find and remove false or negative information such as reviews, articles, and links from online search results.
What classifies as fake news?
Fake news sites are made to trick the average reader into thinking the news is relevant, truthful and reliable. Fake online news stories can go undetected, but with proper knowledge one is able to look further into just how unreliable the source actually is.
Professionals and industry leaders have defined the term to include any information that is deemed:
How to detect fake news
A prime example of a fake news website is theonion.com which is notorious for sharing content that is specially made to trick audiences into thinking the news article is covering legitimate news.
Image Courtesy of TheOnion
The Onion’s tagline is ironically “America’s finest news source.” However, with a little more research, anyone can learn that the source is in fact fake and made to trick their audience, rendering their content as a form of free speech.
Continuously fact checking your sources is an easy way to make sure the source you’re receiving your news from is reliable. Here is a full list of fake news sites to watch out for.
Why Is fake news a problem?
When people are led to believe that fake news is in fact real, it becomes a huge problem. Google and Facebook are two of the most popular sites on the internet, offering an overload of information to the messes everyday. Fake news is likely to find you at some point, whether you’re looking for it or not.
Fake news is often created with the intention of going viral online by providing highly clickable content. Controversial topics paired with eye-catching designs and images are what make fake news appealing to the masses.
When a fake news story goes viral, it can be extremely harmful and misleading to the masses. The more people that see the story, the quicker the unreliable information spreads.
Major online platforms like Facebook and Google are taking action to eliminate fake news and keep your search results filled with high quality, relevant, up-to-date, and factual information.
Fake news can harm a business or brand’s reputation
When someone types in your name or your business into Google, you want your result pages to be filled with reliable information and accurate, positive content. What happens when unreliable and harmful content and links are found on your first page of search results instead?
Unsolicited sources can create fake news and misleading information about your brand or business without your consent. When fake news begins to show up in your Google search results and social networking sites it can have a huge negative impact on the success of your brand or business.
Thankfully, there are key steps you can take to remove fake news and negative search results completely to help restore your reputation for good.
How do I remove fake reviews?
When a potential customer Google’s your business, what happens if the first thing they see is a list of 1 star reviews? You lose business before you even have the opportunity to introduce yourself.
A list of 1 star reviews from fake accounts is actually not that uncommon. Fake Google reviews can happen to any business, and thankfully there are ways for business owners to take control of their online reputation and report a review that violates Google’s policies against prohibited content.
Google has these policies in place to protect the users and happy customers. Prohibited content from Google includes material that is deemed as spam, fraudulent, offensive, explicit, fake, or illegal.
In order to report abuse and flag the review, all you have to do is find your business listing on Google maps for a full list of reviews. Locate the harmful and fraudulent negative online review, and flag it as spam by clicking the flag icon, or the dots on the upper right hand corner of the fake review. This sends an alert directly to Google to remove the review that violates their policies.
Google is an important review platform for any business, and monitoring reviews, whether positive or negative, is an easy form of customer service. Whether positive or negative, take the time to respond to the review to show potential customers you are an attentive business who cares about its customers.
Removing fake news from your search results
Over 17 billion people use Google everyday. When someone has a question, they’re going to head straight to a search engine like Google to get their answer.
Google is essentially an online directory. When someone types your name or business into the search bar, any article, post, blog, website, or social media account containing your name and personal information will get sent directly to your search results.
Image Source: Moz.com
By Googling yourself, you’re able to see exactly what a new client or customer would potentially see. The more people that see the fake news article, the higher it will end up in your search results. Since fake news usually circulates quickly, it will probably be easy to find by landing on your first page of search results.
Send a removal request to Google
Thankfully, the makers of Google understand that fake news has become a growing issue for users.
If an article violates Google’s policies, you’re able to send a removal request. Google is not the violator, the publisher of the fake news is the violator. By sending a removal request, Google will be notified and identify the publisher for more information.
By sending removal requests, you’re asking Google to take action in removing search results that violate their policies. If the information posted online violates Google’s policies, the information will be removed completely.
Ask The publisher to remove the content
If Google denies your request, you also have the ability to confront the publisher directly. The publisher is the hosting website that is responsible for publishing the defamatory content.
Click the link to the fake news article and find the contact information of the publisher. Responding directly in a calm, professional manner will help your case, and hopefully get the publisher’s attention for the right reasons.
By contacting the publisher by email, you’re able to send supporting evidence, as well as leave a paper trail in case further legal action is needed.
Suppress the negative press
If all else fails, you always have the option to suppress the negative search results. In order to fully suppress negative search results, you must create optimized websites, social media profiles, blogs and more.
This is where hiring a professional reputation management specialist comes in handy. Handling a sensitive situation that has impaired your online reputation takes care and special attention to the details.
It’s best to find a reputation management team that is trained in search engine optimization skills and techniques designed to remove negative search results, promote your brand, and repair your online reputation long-term.