So last year Mr. Gottlieb hired Status Labs, an Austin, Texas-based company specializing in so-called reputation management. Its tactic: a favorable news blitz to eclipse the negative stories.

Afterward, articles about him began to appear on websites that are designed to look like independent news outlets but are not. Most contained flattering information about Mr. Gottlieb, praising his investment acumen and philanthropy, and came up high in recent Google searches. Google featured some of the articles on Google News.

His online makeover shows the steps some executives and public figures are taking to influence what comes up on the world’s top search engine. It also illustrates that despite Google’s promises to police misinformation, sites can still masquerade as news outlets and avoid Google’s detection.

Google removed five websites from Google News after The Wall Street Journal inquired about them.