A customer of mine is very well known in his field and has spent much time and money building a successful offline business, mostly based on his reputation. He has a website and ranks first for both his personal name and brand name.
He's a public figure so one would expect that people would have differing opinions of him and make those known. However, a couple of websites have popped up in the top 10 results when doing a search for his name and business brand name.
These sites portray him in a highly negative way and he wants to have them pushed deep into the serps.
So we all know how to optimize our sites to rank higher, but how would one (or would one even want to) push other websites down, de-optimize if you will?
You have to create more websites to rank above the negative site. You can also build links to websites that rank below the negative site. Create Twitter, Digg, Facebook, and other social profiles and build links to them so they rank above the negative site.
Fully second ogletree there. Worked for two people I know where the top result was a newspaper article and not optimised as such but ranked owing to the site's reputation. Neither had a personal website and their business sites didn't mention their names prominently. They built a personal site, a blog, and various SM profiles, which did the trick.
In addition, links were given to innocent third-party sites featuring namesakes to help them rise above the offending URL.
Have successfully tried both the above mentioned approaches for my client's sites. IMO improving the back link profile of third-party pro-sites is much effective and faster as they are already ranking on page #1 or #2.