Experts Blog

5 Strategies The Pros Use to Influence ‘Google Suggest’

By Casey Markee on Nov 14, 2012 - 12:49 PM

Need to influence Google Suggest? Here's How!

  • When potential visitors search for our business name in Google many times they are presented with Google auto-complete search suggestions that include things like our "Business Name Scams" and our "Business Name Bad Reviews" among other queries. This is unflattering to say the least. Is there ANYTHING we can do to influence what kind of suggestions Google serves?

Answer: Google search suggestions generated by Google Instant Autocomplete functionality is a routinely overlooked component of reputation management. Usually the returned results are fairly innocuous search suggestions. Other times they can be downright unflattering like this example of a recent Google Suggest returned for author Kevin Trudeau.

Google Suggest Negative Example Kevin Trudeau

The truth of the matter is that Google "suggestions" like the ones above are substantially more than that since they tend to influence and direct user search habits to query paths they may have not otherwise been interested in pursuing.

First off, how does Google Suggest generate these? Well, it's pretty simple really: these are generated based on how people actually search. So in our example above, MULTIPLE people, all across the country, had to physically type in "Kevin Trudeau free money scam" for Google to return that as a suggested search in the example above. These suggestions are also influenced by your search location, whether or not you are logged-in to Google and engaging personalized search features, and most importantly, freshness.

We've covered the importance of Freshness with Google in the past and with the launch of Google Search Plus Your World earlier this year, freshness went to a whole new level. With regard to Google Suggest, there exists a "freshness layer" that Google uses to populate these fields. In other words...

If Google detects a term suddenly spiking in popularity this generally gets pulled into Google Suggest.

You see this happening a lot with celebrities. For example, within hours after the news that Katie Holmes had filed for divorce from Tom Cruise the phrase "Katie Holmes filed for divorce" was a top trending search in Google Suggest under a search for her name and it's still there as of this writing.

Katie Holmes divorce Google Suggest example

Now, we can't all be a celebrity. But the idea of freshness can work for ANY business or private individual that is looking to clean-up their Google Autocomplete suggestions. For you to influence Google Suggest you need to GENERATE new positive results or results of your liking that Google can display there instead. How do you do this? Here are some thoughts:

  • Use your Company Staff and Employees: If you have access to a network (people/users) that is spaced all around the country you can have them visit Google and perform new searches dozens of times a day, over a several day period to increase the popularity of searches you would instead prefer Google to serve. Examples may be "your company name + reviews or your company name + state your located or your company name + blog or anything that is NOT listed in your suggestion box you may want to get up there in the future.
  • Use Radio, TV and Offline Marketing: Request people to search for a target phrase for your company offline. Radio spots are a great way to do this. Run an ad that requests users to target a specific phrase or keyword and then drive up volume on that phrase artificially. Facebook and social media can also be brought into play here. Come up with a funny concept or message tied to your brand name and generate volume on that phrase. Within days, you'll get it to pop-in to Google Suggest and hopefully replace something "less flattering" that may already be there.
  • Use a Crowdsourcing Tool: Amazon provides a service called Mechanical Turk that provides the ability for users to connect with thousands of high-quality, low-cost workers who will do a task for you for a specified price. If you want to generate NEW Google Autocomplete suggestions what better way to do it than contracting with thousands of people from all around the world to do these searches for you? Here's the rub: Google KNOWS that services like Mechanical Turk exist and it's probably taken some of the "effectiveness" out of this type of approach. Is it still worth exploring, especially for reputation management? Absolutely!
  • Use Virtual Proxy Networks: Sites like Hide My Ass can provide you access to literally hundreds of different IP addresses that can be used to perform anonymous searches and have them originate all across the globe, all from the comfortable confines of your office. For best results, make sure after you perform the search you click on your site, wait 60 seconds, and then do another search. This will encourage Google to 'record' the search more accurately than just clicking on the site and leaving immediately.
  • Hire a Reputation Professional: Where there is a need there is usually a company ready to fulfill that need. Under the guise of "market research" several companies, like this one, currently offer Google Autocomplete Management. Meaning, for a fee, they will hire individuals globally (who have no connection to each other) to perform specific searches that will work to generate new Autocomplete results tied to your Web site. These tasks will usually be hidden among other mundane tasks to protect the integrity of your project. In a nutshell, these providers work to out-search your negative Autocompletion suggestions and replace them with NEW search suggestions of your own choosing.

The rise of sites like Rip Off Report and Scam Report have resulted in an explosion of negative results for brands big and small showing up visibly in Google Suggested searches. In a growing minority of these cases, the negative results generated have been baseless, but in ALL of the cases the generated publicity was always bad. If you or one of your clients are negatively impacted by a less than flattering Google Suggest search query, the above strategies are what we recommend to combat the problem aggressively.

- Casey Markee, Writer & Lead SEO Consultant, Planet Ocean