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|Client wants record of old lawsuit moved down in rank|
An old lawsuit is haunting a new client. Can I do anything to help him?
I am doing a complete overhaul for a client who want to, of course, have his site ranked highly, but he also wants a report of an old lawsuit (that was thrown out of court) moved down into the 10-20 PR of Google. He knows he's stuck with it, it's the public record of the court. He just wants it on page 2 of Google instead of being the number one listing. This thing is over 10 years old, and other Google listings that lead to him (from New York Metro, NPR, Habitat Magazine, other good sites) consistantly get ranked lower. What's the deal? Is someone doing something to get the PR on the lawsuit higher? Can I not only bump up the personal site I'm putting up for him, but some of these other links as well, to push the lawsuit down?
Thanks for any info.
Hello, mhNY, that's an interesting problem. Chances are, the lawsuit site is ranking well due to a combination of site/page PR and, perhaps, link text (in addition to the on-page content). Assuming you can't get the lawsuit site to change in any way (remove the content, move the page, etc.), boosting the ranking of the client's site as well as other sites would be the way to go.
Creating some additional linkage to the other pages that are ranking well for the name would certainly be one straightforward way to go.
It might be interesting to check the backlinks on the lawsuit site. Its ranking may be due to other factors, but it would certainly be an interesting strategy for a competitor to keep the lawsuit site visible.
Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
P.S. PR = PageRank, which you can view with the Google Toolbar; it's a 0 - 10 scale.
Welcome to WenmasterWorld, mhNY!
If it's currently the first listing you will have to increase the ranking of at least ten sites to get it off page one. I am not saying that it cannot be done, but increasing the ranking of ten sites, most of which you do not control, is no easy task. Be very careful of making any promises!
At first I thought your client is an adversary of mine. ;)
From #1 to second page? I would say, chances are slim. Best strategy might be to get as many link as possible for the personal site, link the other news sites from that, and add an explanation page.
It might not be that difficult if the search of interest is the company's name and it's a relatively uncommon name. One other strategy might be to develop a few spinoff sites with different content. E.g., if the primary site for Zablotny-Fairweather, LLC is zablotnyfairweather.com, creating some content/resource sites, like Zablotny Fairweather Probate Resources, might help shove the lawsuit site down. You'll have to gauge how difficult this will be by examining the PR, linkage, and content of the lawsuit site.
You are probably better off with the lawsuit "below the fold" on the first page of the results than at #11 or #12. I get significantly more traffic when I am at #11 than if I am at #7.
The best way to get the lawsuit page moved down is to forget about it. You cannot do anything about that page, so concentrating on it will not do you any good.
Instead, you need to concentrate on boosting your own site to #1. And also doing what you can to boost those other good sites. You aren't moving the bad page down, you are moving the good pages up.
If you get your own site up to an indented #1-#2, that will take care of a good part of the problem.
Then link from your site to those reports using good link text like "Check out the NPR report on Companyname". As your site becomes more important, so does that link to NPR. Having the Companyname in the link will help it come up a bit too.
And if you are lucky, Google will change their algo and it will drop off without any more effort on your part.
>And if you are lucky, Google will change their algo and it will drop off without any more effort on your part.
It's the public record of the court case, which means absolutely clean. Most likely a single link from the court's website's internal page, and no sneaky tricks. Google loves these pages!
I wouldn't make any promisses. In fact I would tell your client staight out that there's nothing you can do about it.
You mentioned that there are sites with information about this guy from some decent sources. If you build a strong site about him and go for good PR and links, you can also link out to these other sources and maybe boost those too.
Kind of a directory site about him, which is certainly flavour of the month with Google in any case ;)
If you want the lawsuit removed, you could exclude it from your robots.txt file. If Google can't spider it, it should move down or go away alltogether.
Put up about a half dozen decoy sites advising what a good guy your client is.
There is one outside possibility that might be suggested to your clients. Make a formal request of the court to have a robots NOINDEX meta tag added to the page.
Insofar as the court will simply say yes or no, this should not be expensive.
I can see no particular reason why the court would refuse since they are (probably) under no legal obligation to allow search engines to access their site.
However, even if the court did agree, you would then have to get Google to remove the page because it could be months before Googlebot got around to looking at it again.
PS A lawyer that plays golf with an appropriate judge would be a big plus.
I got a similar request which related to trying to move a "hate speech" site off the front page for the name of a publicly traded company.
Using identical wording to the offending page in about 75 places scattered around resulted in 10 of those pages moving into the top 10 spots within about a week.
That lasted for about two months and when the dust cleared, all but one of those placements was gone and the original offending site had been completely removed from the SERPs.
Thank you all so much! Yes, I'm new to this end of things - my clients all have their presence in print and web and I've tended to handle more of the print side of design. While search engine numbers were important to them, nothing this crucial has ever come up before. I'm glad I found such a great forum.
Luckily, I haven't promised anything - but I need to explain to him why this is hapening in language he can understand. And yes, this is a court record and is clean.
Everything said is helpful - and all is leading to the direction I was thinking - strong site, strong linking, extra content, links to the existing articles, posting articles he has written and have been written about him. We want to do all of the above anyway.
He even had his lawyer look into this before I came on board, so I have the email of the webmaster at the court. I'll try Kaled's suggestion as well as ask my client if his lawyer plays golf with any appropriate judges.
And again - thanks so much - if there are more ideas, I am ready and willing.
I'm a complete amateur on this so shoot me down if its nonsense but would it not be possible to put up an identical page on a higher ranking site so that the duplicate filters kick in and then cloak the copy so that a nice story actaully appeared? Fire away!
I dunno - I would be very careful trying to set off duplicate content filters on purpose - your client would not very happy if they ended up with 2 pages ripping your client on the front page.
Just had a thought that presumably someone owns the original so it could be a copyright issue.
Start an affiliate program ;)
Contact publisher of article and ask them to take it down as its ten years old and a spent conviction. Its probably been an oversight.
I would not attempt to influence the court in any way to remove the document or block it with robots.txt.
These are public records that the public, including search engines, have a right to.
If they are taken down or blocked, does your client actually want to be in the middle of that scandal? And there will be a scandal on that one.
Just think how good it would be for him to have a whole new set of reports about how he was trying to have that document disappear, and have links to that document.
Like I said before, forget about the bad press and concentrate on getting the good press up to the top. Don't make a big deal out of something that you want to be a small deal.
Just think about that Mark Maughan clown referenced earlier. instead of having that issue go away with the next update, he now looks like a legitimate idiot even when there are not snippet issues.
I'm with Big Dave. I've thought about it and will warn my client that this may be there to haunt him a bit longer, but we will launch a "good press" campaign to move the lawsuit down. I'll take the accrued advice on how to move his new site and any others up (and if anything seems missing from these messages - please post it), and do just that.
I believe public records should be public. They just shouldn't haunt you unnecessarily, as is happening now. There is enough positive press on him to build up an impressive array of links, and higher rankings, on all the good stuff.
I also liked the advice you gave earlier, BD, on getting it "below the fold - to #7 say. That is true, those links in the lower middle of the page do tend to wash out. If we can just move that thing down a little, all will be much better.
mhNY - I have a feeling (and this is simply "intuition" since I don't give a rat's ass about PR etc. myself) that as long as there's a "legal issue" page out there - whether "clean" or not - the amount of traffic to THAT page will override traffic to other pages. The public in this country is FAR more interested in the "dirt" on people (even the "just usn's" sort of folks) than it is in the truth.
Sad state of affairs, but verifiable. Not at all sure that you can do much about it, except as noted in various posts previously try to combat with as much "good info" as you can.
Amazing the dreck that people would rather read than the truth, ain't? Otherwise, why are the supermarket rags still in business, or the "true whatever" mags?
|These are public records that the public, including search engines, have a right to. |
If they are taken down or blocked, does your client actually want to be in the middle of that scandal? And there will be a scandal on that one.
Search engines!= public
Why would there be a scandal? The worst case scenario is a full-blown public debate but I'm talking about an entirely legal and open request to the court so a scandal it would not be. Personally, I think the court would say no, but I also think that there is a sufficient chance they would say yes to make it a reasonable course of action.
Court records are there so that the public may discover information to which they are legally entitled. They do not exist to malign innocent companies. If court records are showing up on search engines and damaging the business or good name of that company then it is entirely reasonable for a company to petition the court to remedy the situation. There is nothing scandalous in this. If the company had been found guilty, the arguments are more complex, but having been found innocent, I believe the court should give serious consideration to such a request.
PS A good PR company should be able to take advantage of any publicity that did accrue.
>If the company had been found guilty, the arguments are more complex, but having been found innocent, I believe the court should give serious consideration to such a request.
Just because a person has been found innocent, given the corrupt justice system here and elsewhere, does not prove anything besides that the defendent was probably rich and powerful.
I think all allegations should be out in public and let people make up their own minds. Most injustices done by rich and powerful don't even make it to the courts. I think people should read both sides of the story and make up their minds.
The best, in my view, will be to have both sites positioned next to each other.
[edited by: ciml at 3:19 pm (utc) on Mar. 23, 2004]
[edit reason] Please see StickyMail [/edit]
|I think all allegations should be out in public and let people make up their own minds. |
Are you serious? It's not like the public records list the facts and evidence. Remember, I can accuse anyone of ANYTHING.
Without knowing the specifics of the cases, I think it's best not to think of this as a primary task. If you're able to move it down in the results, GREAT. If not, it probably isn't taking business away fron the client. Hey, it's better than having a competitor in that spot.
How many search results are returned for the phrase?
anyway - back on topic of the original message:
Yes, you could go build a bunch of feeder sites and try to bring them up in the rankings. Or, you could do so many "good" things that people would want to report them and thus drive out the old.
Personally, I would put up a page that explained what happened, why there are results like those other ones, and then make your case with people. Running and hiding only fuels suspicion. Being up front and explaining builds trust.
Remember the first three rules of damage control:
3-always tell the truth.
1 and 2 mean that when you screw up, then go out and tell people about it and explain yourself repeatidly. And #3 means - don't spin - just tell the truth about the incident.
>>"I think all allegations should be out in public and let people make up their own minds."
I think for the most part, Internet users are a skeptical bunch that often seek credibility, and many would look at the court record and think: "Where there's smoke - there's fire."
I'm not an attorney, but I have even heard of guilty pleas that have had their records sealed after a period of time. Since this case was thrown out, I would think that something could easily be done through legal channels to seal this as well.
If you can get it sealed and removed, you don't have to fight it through damage control.
PS: To play off an old Eddie Murphy line in Trading Places, "Is there an attorney in the house?" [to sticky mhNY, as this probably isn't the place for an open forum on legal advice]
Welcome to WebmasterWorld mhNY!
Submit and resubmit to thousands of FFA sites (using auto resubmit software or sites) might carry a chance to catch a penalty on that page. Make sure for the valid stuff to remain unrelated in linking and theme though or you would harm that one as well.
Other theme and linking dilution activities might help a bit as well (unrelated links, bad neighborhood links), but as said before I would spend 10% my time doing this and 90% pushing up the valid site.
[edited by: adfree at 4:05 pm (utc) on Mar. 23, 2004]
Glad I sparked this debate.
It's true, public information should lead to public debate, but here is what really happens (outside this forum). Someone checks out my client by Googling his name. The first thing that comes up is this case. They aren't going to read it. They aren't going to think about it. They're just going to see he was the defendent and say, "Oh no, I'm not going to somebody who was sued".
I'm still not sure about asking the court to take it down - it just doesn't sit right with me.
We gotta move this thing down in rank.
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