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Someone has decided to create a hate blog on a hosted blogging service (wordpress.com) that bashes my company. The blog contains posts that completely flame myself, my service, and contains complete falsehoods about how I run my business. Without going into details, I'm pretty sure the author of this blog is an owner of a competing service (although it is authored completely anonymously).

Frankly, I'm not sure if the content would qualify for defamation or not, but I really don't like the idea of spending money on a lawyer to even attempt to prove this. I also have no interest in retorting or even replying to the blog in any sort of way -- I feel this would justify the ludicrous claims that have been posted.

Unfortunately, whoever wrote the blog was pretty smart about using key words that people commonly use to search for my service. Because my customer base is relatively small and local, our PageRank is not incredibly high. As a result, when someone Google's our business name, this blog is usually within the top five results (thankfully, it's never above the business' actual website, but it's usually within eyeshot).

It's incredibly frustrating to hear from customers who have seen the link (luckily, most of the time they think the author is crazy).

Is there anything I can do to combat this? Would it be worthwhile to setup my own hosted wordpress.com branded blog, in an effort to trump this wordpress.com with a blog that is more active of my own?

TL;DR: Someone made a hate blog using wordpress.com and is now on the first page of my business' search results. What are my options?

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4 Answers

Suprised we are not looking at the obvious solution here.

  • Attempt to contact blog owner, establish dialogue and attempt to find a solution. Perhaps when you explain how much grief it is giving you they will empathise
  • Ignore it. It's a lot of effort to run and constantly update a blog. I expect most of them to fizzle out after a while.

Don't:

  • 'Return the favour' as others have mentioned. It's a great was to $&@£ the whole situation in a way you never thought possible. You might even target the wrong person.
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+1 for don't return the favour. Could possibly cause more hassle than its worth. –  MrG Mar 2 '11 at 10:46
    
Good post - It might not work but I find I often look to the technical solution to a problem when there are other ways to tackle something. I also think it's not a good idea to retaliate unless you really have to because it looks so much more professional if you don't. Also, dog-fights might just worsen the problem with more results on the subject appearing in on Google. –  Ewan Heming Mar 2 '11 at 18:58
    
I agree entirely -- but we've essentially already done all of the above. The hate blog itself has been dormant for years, yet it sits on our search results. I have no intention to engage in a mud flinging war with the author. Unfortunately, the author has gone the anonymous route and won't respond. I also am pretty sure the author is the owner of a competing service who has done other hostile (but not illegal) things towards us in the past. I don't think there is any chance to make peace at this point. –  Perturbed Mar 2 '11 at 19:07
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I think it depends on the PageRank of the hate blog. If it's not too strong then you need to try and get your name out onto as many sites as possible so the listing will be burred underneath it in time. Simple profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook often rise to the top of the search results and reduce the space for other links.

However, if it's a popular blog then you've got a problem that even an experienced SEO might have difficulty with. Maybe try complaining to wordpress.com but I don't know if that would do any good or not.

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It's a wordpress.com blog. It's not popular, it has just a few posts and zero comments after existing for about two years. We have a linkedin, facebook, twitter presence and we are active on all three, but it outranks all three of those. –  Perturbed Mar 2 '11 at 0:10
    
There's ton's of other places you could put your name like business directories, places you can enter a profile and even blog comments/forum posts. Even things like your stackexchange profile might appear in the search results. It's worth a try if your competitor doesn't have a strong and reputable site. –  Ewan Heming Mar 2 '11 at 0:29
    
It may sound like a stupid questions, but do you link to your twitter/facebook pages from your website? You might find a couple of simple links might be enough to pass on enough pagerank to outrank the problem blog. –  MrG Mar 2 '11 at 10:45
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Go positive instead of negative.

On a smaller scale when someone posts a negative comment in a public forum, like a bad restaurant review, it can be drowned / pushed down the page by positive reviews. Either the restaurant owner and / or supporters will all post positive reviews causing the negative review to seem like the exception.

Using the same search terms make as many references to yourself as possible to fill the search results. For instance, TrueLocal, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, guest post on other blogs, post in forums etc. Maybe even create another blog on WordPress for your company that has a slightly different focus then your company blog, perhaps more casual.

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Make you own blog to counter their blog. You'll attempt to accomplish two things with it:

1) Refute their claims, anonymously, and hopefully make them look bad in the process

2) Attempt to outrank them and push their blog down further on the SERPs page

You can also attempt to do #2 by getting more pages to outrank them. Twitter, Facebook, and other similar pages tend to rank well out of the box as I know they do for my name whenever I search for it.

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We have a blog already, but it's hosted on our main domain and usually doesn't rank especially high. Would your recommendation be to move our blog to wordpress.com to outrank them? –  Perturbed Mar 2 '11 at 0:09
    
Nope, make a new blog specifically to have another site, one that appears to be separate from your other site, to both outrank them and refute their blog posts. Maybe even return the favor if you ever find out who is doing this. –  John Conde Mar 2 '11 at 0:19
    
@John, joining in their war games will lead to no reasonable resolution to the problem. You run the risk of becoming too personally attatched when you main efforts and time should be going to running your business and keeping your current customers happy. –  Tom Gullen Mar 2 '11 at 11:05
    
@Tom - I'm not suggesting running a war so much as doing your best to make their strategy not worthwhile. If their blog gets pushed down in the SERPs and then they have to deal with the same issue themselves it will make them much more likely to stop what they are doing. If they keep this up it can have a large negative impact on this business. They need to fight this best they can. –  John Conde Mar 2 '11 at 12:45
    
I disagree it will make them a lot less likely to stop what they are doing by doing the same back, that's speculation, you don't know. I'm guessing they are unreasonable people anyway because they started it. You always come out better in the long run if you ignore it and focus on your operations. –  Tom Gullen Mar 2 '11 at 13:38
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