Have you typed something into Google’s search engine and noticed (while you’re still typing), the search bar adds certain “suggested” words at the end of it?
That’s what is known as Google Autocomplete, a feature that helps users enter their search faster, based on popular suggested searches. So, you could enter something like “Used cars in” and the autocomplete function would predict the optional finish of “Sarasota” at the end. It’s a convenient feature for users, but it can create headaches for businesses.
If you’re a business with any level of online presence, the autocomplete feature could suggest things you’d never want to be appended to the end of your company name. This would include “scam” or “lawsuit.” There are a bunch of other examples. If they appear to someone searching for your website, it might scare them away or take them down an unintended rabbit hole.
Since this is an important thing for businesses to avoid (regarding reputation management), we want to further explain it, including its risks, and how to correct mistakes.
How Does Google Autocomplete Predict Search Terms?
As you may already know, Google has several ways to ascertain information about users, which allows them to facilitate what they receive in the search results. These are the factors Google uses to do that, which also activates the autocomplete feature.
- Trending Topics – You’ll see this on Google, Twitter (X), and other search engines. Whenever there is something trending in the world, the associated terms will become autocomplete options more often.
- User Location – Like we mentioned in the beginning, the autocomplete function can extrapolate user location and predict search terms with it. This works to the advantage of local businesses most of the time.
- Language – Keyword language will match the user’s browser settings.
- Keyword Search Volume – If others are searching for something often, then that will have a better chance of appearing. Hence, the reason you’d run into trouble if lots of folks search for “your business + scam.”
- User Search History – Google can determine, from your search history, if you’ve searched for something previously.
- Keyword Associations – This also works to the business’s advantage by pairing certain keywords with popular brands (including local ones, provided you have a solid web presence).
Risks to Your Company’s Online Reputation
Alas, you may suffer a hit to your company’s online reputation if the autocomplete feature produces something inaccurate, negative, or defamatory. Since Internet algorithms are difficult to predict, it’s possible for individuals or companies to link with some ongoing scandal or controversy, even if they have nothing to do with it.
An example of this could be a food producer or manufacturer inappropriately linked to something alarming like “product recall.” Imagine, when that happens, the message it sends to potential consumers.
How Do You Fix This Problem?
There is a way to fix this problem by reporting inappropriate predictions, which you can find right beneath the search bar on the Google search screen. It’s also possible to petition Google to remove unlawful content, which may adversely affect your business. As you do this, however, be ready to go through an explanation prompt (with several options) where you’ll explain the specific problem, and what you want removed.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about how to improve your online reputation with Google and other search engines, then consider the professional services of DigiSphere Marketing. Contact us anytime to explore comprehensive ways to avoid these devastating hindrances by calling our Sarasota location at 941-803-4141.