If your first hit on Google feels like a mafia hit, don't despair. Firms like ReputationDefender and Reputation Management offer clients an enhanced image on the top search engine by creating links, sites, YouTube videos, and MySpace profiles that promote positive Google results, and lower the pageranks of defamatory comments.
Potential employers and romancers are increasingly resorting to the Google box for research, and unwitting search terms are finding their names associated with anonymous censure; as one disparaged lobbyist says, "there's no policing, no rules, no standards. It's the wild, wild West." Companies charge from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a month to ensure their client a favorable online status. (Read more Google stories.)