As most readers know, with Google’s Autocomplete feature, suggestions are offered even before you’ve finished typing a search request. Google has been offering “Google Suggest” or “Autocomplete” since 2008. But if you’ve ever typed a company name into Google and have instantly seen negative words like “scam” come up with Google’s Autocomplete, then you know first hand how Autocomplete can have a negative impact on a business. This is especially troublesome if the negative associations have no foundation and it’s your company.
This has inspired many to want to learn more about how Google comes up with suggestions, and why they remove some suggestions and not others. Because any negative values associated with your business will not just suddenly disappear over time, you must actively work to keep them from appearing.
According to Brian Patterson, Google’s Autocomplete algorithm is comprised of 3 main influential factors:
1) Search volume and searcher location – the amount of searches performed for a keyword along with the location of the searchers
2) Mentions of the keyword on the Web, crawlable by Google’s spider
3) Social Media mentions of the keyword on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
If you can obtain these 3 items in large quantities for your desired keywords, you may be able to influence Google Autocomplete. Some online reputation management companies claim the best strategy is to prepare a database of what Google Autocomplete suggests the most number of times for companies, identify and make a list of values that Google favors when making Autocomplete suggestions, and then promote the specific word in articles, blogs, posts, reviews, and webpage content to influence Google Autocomplete suggestions.
Google claims frequency is a factor, but some less popular searches might be shown above more popular ones if Google considers them more relevant. “Personalized searches will always come before others. Google Autocomplete also has what the company calls a ‘freshness layer.’ If there are terms that suddenly spike in popularity in the short term, these can appear as suggestions, even if they haven’t gained long-term popularity.”
Why Suggestions Get Removed
When Google’s predictions were coupled with Google Instant, a renewed interest was ignited in what was suggested and what wasn’t. Google says items were being removed for the specific reasons listed below:
Hate or violence related suggestions
Personally identifiable information in suggestions
Porn & adult-content related suggestions
Legally mandated removals
Google advises that automated filters may be used to block any suggestion against their policies and guidelines. For those interested in learning more about white drives Google Autocomplete, this Google Instant/Autocomplete article provides background on the subject.
Mint Copy, an Internet marketing firm, suggests following these 5 steps to take control of Google’s Auto-Complete. Following these steps will help to eliminate negative keywords and replace them with positive words in Google’s auto-complete suggestion tool.
1) Use your social media accounts, actively. You should have accounts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest as a minimum. Your bio should include positive terms you would prefer to the negative term(s) affecting auto-complete. Keep your input to these networks positive and make sure your status updates, Tweets, comments on LinkedIn Groups and Pins include keywords and phrases you would prefer to be found for.
2) You may have seen on ads that companies often include phrases such as “search on [preferred term]” in order to drive traffic for a specific key message. You can do this too – add the chosen positive words to your tagline on your blog, your business card, your email signature file, and of course, optimize at least one page on your website for this term. Your ‘About Me’ or About Us’ page should include it in close proximity in the copy to your brand name, or your own name if that is where the problem lies. Once your optimization has taken effect and you can be found on the search engines for the required result, then include the link to that results page everywhere you can naturally place it.
3) When traveling, take the opportunity to log on through a hotspot or from a cybercafe using their computers, and search for your preferred term plus your name. This will be logged as a separate search than your normal IP address and will help to bring the desired positive term up in search volume.
4) Ask your friends and family to do the same from their own computers. Every little bit helps!
5) Head out onto the Web and find as many sites as you can that allow you to add a bio along with your name so that you can include your positive terms. This can include forums, social networks, bookmarking sites, Q&A sites, etc – some examples: Empire Avenue, HubPages, Zurker, Bubblews, Squidoo, Quora, Teckler, content curation sites such as Scoop.it, and so on.
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