Business defamation on Google
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What to do if your business is defamed on Google
Business defamation on Google is likely to devastate most small and medium size businesses. If you business is defamed on Google searches, seek legal advice as there are various strategic solutions
Each month, our firm handles dozens of cases involving business defamation on Google. Each case is unique it terms of the facts but also of the circumstances of the business in question. This case involves due diligence process in relation to a well-established business, which revealed historic posts containing business defamation on Google searches.
Our client Grant, not his real hname, was an entrepreneur and the owner of a niche small business of auctioneering antiques. His London auction business had been successfully operating for over 30 years, mostly in a traditional way and long before Google had taken over ownership of business reputation. The business was created by Grant and what had begun as a small antiques shop had now blossomed into a profitable regional business, very well known for its particular speciality for certain types of antique auctioneering. Grant was approaching retirement and sought to sell his business, for which he had a number of attractive offers.
Business Defamation on Google Legal Advice FAQ
Yes, businesses can take legal action against competitors or individuals for defamation on Google. If a business can prove that false allegations or unsubstantiated claims about it are circulating online, particularly if they are damaging the business's reputation or causing financial harm, legal steps can be taken to remove the content and seek damages. The key is to act quickly and provide evidence linking the defamatory content to the competitor.
Common forms of business defamation on Google include false allegations of scams, fraud, poor service, or unethical practices. These might appear as negative reviews, blog posts, or comments in forums and discussion boards. Sometimes competitors may also use SEO tactics to associate a business with negative search terms, making damaging content appear more prominently in search results.
Upon discovering false reviews or defamatory posts online, a business should first document all instances of the defamation. They should then seek legal advice to understand the best course of action. This might include issuing takedown notices to the website hosting the content, contacting search engines to delist the defamatory content, or pursuing legal action against the individuals or competitors responsible for the defamation.
The time it takes to remove business defamation from Google varies depending on the nature of the content, the response of the content hosts, and the legal measures taken. Typically, with a focused legal strategy, defamatory posts can start to be removed or delisted within a few weeks. However, the complete resolution of the issue, especially if it involves multiple posts or websites, may take longer.
It's important for businesses to address old defamatory posts or reviews because internet content is often recycled and can reappear, affecting the business's reputation and sales. Historic negative posts might be discovered during due diligence by potential buyers or investors, or they might resurface in search results due to changes in algorithms or renewed interest. Proactively managing and removing old defamatory content helps maintain the business's reputation and ensures that outdated or false information doesn't harm future opportunities.
Unfortunately, as part of the due diligence by the potential buyers of his business, it was pointed out to Grant that there had been scores of negative search results about his business showing up on Google searches. It was the brand name that was of a particular interest for the buyers but because Grant had operated his auction business in an old fashion way, by producing catalogues and by conducting onsite auctions, he had not been aware that there were scores of negative online posts about him and about his business, which carried his name.
Whilst most of the search results bore no relation to Grant, nonetheless, they mentioned his name and referred to the auction industry. One of the websites of concern was an online discussion forum with a thread alleging that Grant operated a scam business but no details were given. Another website was a Google Blogger blog, which was operated by an unknown individual, promoting the earlier discussion forum false scam allegations without providing meaningful details, but nevertheless by mentioning Grant’s name.
False allegations of scam against a business on the internet, require few details before they cause serious harm to the reputation of a business. It is the words scam or fraud that tend to create an instant impact on the perception of the average internet user of a business. As for Grant, his business of which he had nurtured for the best part of his life was being tarnished and associated with scam stories that held no relevance or association to his business.
More so, the fact that the defaming websites were being associated with his name and business was damaging to the reputation Grant worked so hard to establish and as a consequence, would naturally deter interest from potential buyers and reduce the valuation of his business thereby making it difficult to sell. Grant decided to seek legal advice to help him work out a way to clear the internet of defamation ahead of the next due diligence by the proposed buyers. This is one of the specialities of Cohen Davis - having defamatory websites removed from Google ahead of due diligence by buyers or investors.
The need to remove defamation from Google ahead of due diligence is often very urgent. It could be a matter of days or weeks and it is not always easy to convince the buyer or the investor to delay their due diligence on the business by much longer. In the case of Grant and his business, we have been be able to assist him in the dissociation of the defamatory websites from him and from his business by having them either completely deleted from the source website or by having them first de-listed from Google searches and then working towards the complete removal later on.
The important thing was that those defamatory posts would not show on due diligence searches for time being. Our lawyers carried out a review of all the defamatory posts and decided to communicate with the operators of some of the websites whilst communicating with Google at the same time for delisting of the defamatory posts. All the defamatory posts had been removed within 3 weeks from internet searches, which considering the volume, could be considered as a quick resolution for the business defamation matter.
If you have experienced a reduction in sales lately, this might be due to the current economic climate, or maybe it is because the marketing strategy of your business has not been updated to reflect current marketing trends. It is, however, possible that your business reputation is being damaged, gradually, over time and without you even being aware of what is going online by business defamation on Google searches. Often, a thorough, professional internet search can reveal serious internet reputation issues that the business owners might have missed.
For example, during a thorough, detailed internet search project, our lawyers would carry out between and average of 20 different searches which our experience tells us would resemble what phrases that customers would use for their internet search. A deep internet search is also likely to be carried out by those who carry out due diligence on a business as it might reveal historic postings, which might not at present appear on the first pages of the search engines.
Some of these posts may be very old, published on the internet 10 or 15 years ago. As a business owner you should be bothered with historic defamatory posts online, even if they don’t currently appear on recent internet searches. The reason for this is that internet content is recycled all the time which means it can reappear deliberately or by accident. It its important to be aware of exactly what is out there about you or about your business, even if you decide to leave matters as they are for time being.
There are strategies, which can certainly help you completely remove from the internet old and historic internet posts, and in some cases you could obtain default judgments which will compel website operators and search engines to have those historic defamatory posts deleted. To find out more on what to do if your business is defamed on Google, call our super-friendly internet law expert lawyers now.