Suppressing legal notices on the Internet is an oft-requested online reputation management service. Old legal notices can be an issue for anyone, including well-established organizations as well as private individuals. (If you operate a business in the investment-related industry, you are almost invariably facing such issues.)
Because legal notices rank highly on Google searches they are a constant source of concern. This is especially true when you did not break any laws but were fined for an overlooked tax or professional license fee requirement, are the focus of a claim by a vendor whose work may be under review or are named in a sealed legal action or divorce that was never intended to become public.
SEC, local, state & federal government notices common types
Common types of notices include filings that are made by the SEC as well as by local, state and federal governments. They often include PDFs detailing the legal case as well as press releases that are posted to announce a finding. When these are published on government websites, they may be given their own URL – a customized website address with the subject’s name. That makes it highly searchable. Legal and government sites often host vast quantities of data, have many visitors, and have a high credibility ranking. So relevant pages on their sites usually appear toward the top of search results. In searches of your name, their pages will often appear before your own biographical pages. That is where the problem lies.
A strategic plan will ensure new content ranks highly
If your goal is to suppress (lower) such filings, there are reasons your task will be challenging. The first is that if you are like many individuals or organizations, you may not have a large presence on the Internet. Your organization may have a website; you may have a LinkedIn page. If you are prominent you may have a Wikipedia page (which includes a reference to the legal issue with a link), as well as numerous media articles about you. But you do not own much of that content. That means you don’t manage it—it is out of your control. The second reason is that if the legal filings have lingered for years, they have also probably been aggregated, or republished, by multiple other websites, which has created additional listings about them.
Substantive content has the most credibility online
Overcoming such content on Google entails strategically publishing substantial amounts of new content that is designed specifically to target and minimize the legal notice. It needs to be optimized to attain high ranking. Even then, not all content ranks highly. Optimization is like the cord in a string of beads. If content consists of many beads, they are useless without the string that holds them together, forming a content collection that you want to dominate searches of your name. The more substantive you or your organization is, the higher the quality it should be. This explains why a strategic plan is the first step in all online reputation management campaigns.
If maintaining a positive reputation and taking ownership of your brand online is important to you, you have many options for improving the situation. Realize that content won’t stay in place without being continually maintained and refreshed. A good strategic plan will take all of these elements into account to ensure you will see measurable results.