How To Push A Negative Story Off The Front Page Of Google
Spotlight on Ernie The Eraser
It used to be easy for Fred’s University to push negative stories off the front page of Google. Ernie The Eraser has been working to keep Fred’s University’s internet image clean for several decades. When he started out, Ernie had a basement office in what was known as the Computers Are A Thing Center. Now he has a suite on the penthouse level of the Secret Amin Building overlooking the river where he practices “Reverse SEO.”.
Ernie’s tools for pushing a negative story off the front page of Google were simple back in the Olden Times of The Interweb.
Add a large number of social media accounts for the perp and post to them on an innocent topic similar to the scandal.
- Add a large number of social media accounts for the perp and post to them on an innocent topic similar to the scandal. Ernie would put up MySpace pages for errant professors and fill them with pictures of puppies named “Scandal” and “Reprimand.”
- Add a lot of university website posts about the scandal subject using keywords from the scandal. Someone searching for “Fred’s University Racist Land Grab” would find themselves reading “Fred’s University Grabs Prestigious Land Use Award.”
- Generate clicks for dummy content and make it more popular than the scandal content. Google was happy to believe back in the day that more people were clicking on “Dean Voted Most Likely To Pat Cats” than “Dean Calls Student Pussy in Leaked Emails.”
- Create a webring, a circle of sites that all link to each other making each look more authoritative. Since universities are their own sort of web farm or mutual authentication circle, Ernie hardly considered this practice a Black Hat scam.
For these tasks, Ernie The Eraser had a secret weapon, a depressed Fred’s University lifer, unkindly known as Mopey Marjorie. Marjorie had worked as an admin assistant at Fred’s U since a divorce in 1979 left her penniless. During that time she was never promoted, despite having a Master’s Degree from Fred’s University, a perfect attendance record and detailed knowledge of how to change the toner in the copy machine. Since Marjorie never earned more than minimum wage, her labor was a bargain for Enrie who then had money left over for redecorating his first basement office and upgrading his spyware.
Ernie would have Mopey Marjorie write his phony content and then send her to computers around campus and local libraries and cafes, to click on her own decoy stories. Eventually, as the Internet grew, Marjorie realized she and Ernie had invented the click farm, and she was a prototype bot. Her jokes on the subject brought everyone down. Marjorie also maintained several fake academic sites for Ernie, with imaginary professional associations and research societies, that would link back and forth to Fred’s University’s site providing valuable “backlinks” and promoting the sham stories.
Over the years, these imaginary organizations became more real to Marjorie than Fred’s University. She gave herself a virtual promotion to the fictional Communications Director at The Association of Cyber Security, and Ernie even photographed her with a faux lanyard sporting her new title for the bogus blog.
But with so many wrongdoers trying to erase their crimes from the Internet, it has become much more difficult to push a negative story “below the fold” on the front page of the web. Now Ernie uses more sophisticated methods to purge negative press about the University from Google, and has a large budget to pay reputation restoring consulting firms to do his hazmat cleanups.
Ernie keeps up-to-date on his witchcraft by following search suppression in academic scandals across the globe. He is particularly impressed with how well-endowed prep schools manage to suppress their sex scandals. If he had an even larger budget, Ernie would love to run ads linked to the keywords in stories he is trying to erase the way rich schools do.
Recently Ernie watched in awe as Richard E Rich Academy managed to all but eliminate a story about a teacher who raped five exchange students. Richard Rich ran so many internet ads for their exchange program, all disguised under slightly different formats, that you never got to the rape story.
Another technique Ernie finds fun is “typo-squatting” where you buy the URL of a common misspelling of a desired negative SEO target. When Fred’s University was accused of stealing government funds by angry alum Paun Rogers, Ernie purchased PawnRogers.Com and posted a fauxpology from “Pawn” for falsely accusing the university.
Ernie was impressed to see Harvard University rush to protect its own when Anthropology Professor John Comaroff was sanctioned under Title IX. The university was caught out when it passed on the therapy notes of one of the graduate student victims back to the perpetrator. The story was covered by The New York Times and respectable news outlets around the globe. With so many authoritative sites posting stories about Comaroff, Ernie thought it would be impossible to erase the negative news.
But within a few weeks, Harvard managed to bring positive stories about Comaroff to the top of the search results, all but obliterating the story of the students who had accused him. A search of Professor Comaroff’s name now brings up his “distinguished scholarship” instead of his rap sheet as a serial harasser.
“Now that’s class,” Ernie commented recently to Mopey Marjorie at an internet cafe near Fred’s University campus. “Since part of the case against Harvard is that they played Pass The Harasser with University of Chicago when they hired Comaroff, hiding his history of harassment accusations, it’s really poetic that they have hidden the story about their hiding the story.”
“The best work is invisible,” Marjorie agreed.
While Mopey Marjorie has retired, she has no retirement benefits having never been given full-time status in her 30 years at the university, and is always eager for extra dollars. Ernie still uses her for his SEO-Ops when he needs backup. Marjorie has maintained the many fake social media accounts she created for Fred’s University and uses them to spy on her ex and his third set of children, now living in a lavish townhouse on Park Avenue.
Ernie met with Marjorie recently to cook up an imaginary conference on internet security when Fred’s University revealed the passwords and home addresses of asylum-seekers who were refugees of a torture regime to a right-wing hate group that was harassing them.
The two old hands enjoyed designing a website for the clickbait conference to drive traffic away from the Fred U data breach and coming up with phony seminar topics. The keynote lecture at their invented conference would be “Coming up With Passwords Shouldn’t Be Torture.”
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