Search Suppression for Reputation Management
Let’s say someone writes a scathing indictment of you or your company. Very possibly, anyone searching for your name will find those negative comments. Bad news!
Online reputation management companies work to minimize the impact of those negative reviews (seldom can you get them completely removed) by creating optimized positive content that will show up higher than the negative content. Push it down far enough and few if any people will ever see it.
Of course those concerned with ethical SEO discourage anything you do just for the search engines and that’s not useful to searchers. So will this tactic cause you trouble with the search engines? At Google, apparently not. Recently on NPR’s All Tech Considered, it was remarked that:
Google doesn’t seem to have a problem with the whole game [search suppression]. As the world’s largest search engine, a spokesman there says creating new content to hide negative material is fair play.
Google’s own post on this reinforces that position:
For example, if someone posts a negative review of your business on a restaurant review or consumer complaint site, that site might not be willing to remove the review. If you can’t get the content removed from the original site, you probably won’t be able to completely remove it from Google’s search results, either. Instead, you can try to reduce its visibility in the search results by proactively publishing useful, positive information about yourself or your business. If you can get stuff that you want people to see to outperform the stuff you don’t want them to see, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of harm that that negative or embarrassing content can do to your reputation.
Note that they specify useful information. Don’t just publish optimized garbage and expect it to do well. But if you generate useful content, it shouldn’t get you in trouble with Big G.