Lowering Your Search Rankings for a Keyword That is Getting You in Legal Trouble

Question: A client of mine wanted to target high traffic terms in his industry. His industry was not very competitive, and some of the target terms were competing trademarks. We rank top 5 for them in Google, and now legal troubles are occurring. We removed all references to the competing trademark on our site, but still have some rogue inbound links that we can't get removed that have the anchor text which targets the competing mark. What should we do?

Answer: There are four options which can help get you out of this situation.

Work With the Competition

If you have a nepotistic relationship with the competitor and recommend them then perhaps you can both be strengthened as category leaders.

Is the Lawsuit Cheap Marketing?

Anything involving Google and search is still a ripe field for media exposure. If you think your chances of winning are good enough, and the potential return is much larger than the risk of losing consider letting them sue you. It is probably not your fault that Google ranked you, but also seek legal advice outside of reading this post... I am not a lawyer.

Tank Your Rankings for that Keyword

If the links point at a page other than the homepage, consider removing the URL from your site, and then use the Google URL removal tool when the 404 error shows.

If you bought those links cash usually works to help remove them. Use their on site contact information and the email in their whois. Call the number in the whois data. Pay them to take down the links.

Improve the Rankings of Competing Pages

The tips offered in my search engine reputation management post work here as well. Follow the tips in that post to help make other competing pages rank better.

You can also work on improving the rankings of other competing pages while lowering your rankings. Feel free to push a couple strong pages if you are just trying to end the confrontation, but if you feel they are dirty you may also want to help surface some ugly news that was ranking on page 3. Do that and they may care less about your rankings, and shift their focus to those other sites.

Published: June 12, 2007 by Aaron Wall in Q & A


Adeel Shahid
June 13, 2007 - 5:39am

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the good insight into one of your experiences again :)

Day by day as i read your blog i do get some pretty good idea how SEO works.

Thank you once again.

Adeel Shahid

June 13, 2007 - 10:38pm

I'm having similar issue - I'm ranking for irrelevant keywords that I don't wish to because they are not good and just increase my bounce rates with about 95% for those keywords and I want them out!

Do you know any way to do negative keywords - aka to tell search engines that you don't want to be ranked for those keywords ??????

I guess if that's possibel we can eliminate the situation right?



June 15, 2007 - 10:18am

Yes Mr. Venetsian, thats all possible with your robots.txt here you can disallow every single page and keyword that you are not interested to get ranked with those keywords.
any onother source you can use that directly touch you with google is Google Webmaster tools even from here you can unable keywords that you are not willing to market.

June 15, 2007 - 10:22am

yes some times it happens when google cant find any motion or updates from your website, because google need your website to be updated twice a week. so try to use unique fresh content, use all meta tags, alta tags and other google following tags and most important use google webmasters tools that all will help you and your webiste for better searching and position. as i did with my website.

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