Inaccurate information is all over the web — but what if it’s inaccurate information about you or your company?
Clients often need help with this: for reputation management, when they move physical locations and the old info stays on the search page, and for a range of other reasons. I’ve just had the experience myself. A wonderful site I worked on has gone live, they’ve credited me for my work (often it’s posted under the name of the CEO or the company), and they’ve listed me as “Rebecca Haden, Norfolk, Va.”
It’s not a negative comment; there’s nothing wrong with being from Norfolk, Virginia, as far as I know. But it happens that most of my new clients come to me because they’ve read something I’ve written. Someone who thinks, “Ah! This is just the writer I need — Rebecca Haden, Norfolk, Va. I’ll Google her” — this person won’t find me, because I’m not actually in Norfolk. If they Google “Rebecca Haden,” they will find me, but may decide I am not the right person, since I live in Fayetteville, Ar.
In such a case — and in the case of an old address or phone number in a directory, a false report about your company at a review site, or an old blog from a former employee that no longer represents your company — you want to get that information changed.
Here are some options:
- Ask that the information be changed. When it’s actual errors on an active site, this is the best first choice. I’ve done that. Having done it, you must then wait until the webmaster gets around to it. Changing your info is probably not high on the webmaster’s priority list, and this can take a long time. What’s more, it can sometimes happen that the email address given at the website is not current, so the right person never sees your request. I even had an experience once with a webmaster who became angry at the request and refused (just once — I’m sorry for the guy’s wife, that’s all I can say). But this is certainly the correct route when it’s available to you.
- See whether you can change it yourself. Outdated info problems often arise when someone has set up or submitted information to a site and then forgotten about it. Look around the webpage and see whether there’s any place to log in, comb old company emails sending log in information, or just ask around till you track down the original owner of the account. I’m making it sound easy, but often it’s a very difficult task. People move on, they forget, and often you need to contact the webmaster and explain your plight. And then see above. Try leaving a comment correcting the false info, and in future, make sure that all log in data for your company is kept in a secure place with general access.
- Push it back off page 1. In some cases, this is all you can do. It’s not really relevant for my case, but for many companies, it’s all you can do. That unflattering blog post which the owner refuses to retract or remove, the negative reviews, the old website belonging to the former owners of your company who have disappeared and won’t answer your emails — all you can do in those cases is work diligently to get newer information to replace it.