The Romanian Google Autocomplete Case and What it Means for Branding
Ryan Buddenhagen, March 27, 2012
As search is their primary function and market, Google continually works to improve the search experience on their platform for their end-users. Google consistently rolls out improvements to their algorithm and search approach, some larger (such as Google Search Plus Your World) and some smaller (such as the continuous geo-targeting refinements), but all are detailed in their company blog, which is an important way that marketers and SEO experts keep abreast of the latest from the search giant.
Google's Autocomplete is one innovative feature of their search experience that has brought about a shift in the way people search. For those unfamiliar, Autocomplete brings web searchers closer to their desired queries by suggesting terms (to complete the search phrase) as the user types in the query. The suggested endings appear in a drop-down menu below the cursor, and are generated based on objective measures including the popularity of past searched terms.
The feature is significant for several reasons, but maybe most importantly, for the branding and reputation management consequences of both positive and negative persistent searches. Companies can experience both the positive and negative scenarios and usually partner with SEO companies to engage in reputation management to resolve the issue. In other cases, some of them in international markets, companies sued Google for allowing their platform to perpetuate negative sentiment towards their brand, several of them winning.
An excellent post sent my way via fellow WebiMax writer Anthny Pensabene details the "Romanians Are Smart" campaign that was launched in response to the negative search suggestions that were appearing in the Google Autocomplete search for "Romanians are…" - When this was realized in November, ROM, a Romanian brand, launched the campaign and a site by the same name and motivated Romanians to search specified positive terms. Within a month, the positive terms were being suggested by Google Autocomplete. This case presents a model for other brands, be them country or company, and how they can resolve similar cases.
In similar circumstances, brands can:
- Engage in a similar campaign to "outnumber" the negative suggestions with positive ones, this requires consistent effort. The likely reason that the Romanian campaign was able to achieve results quickly was that it was a nationalistic issue that moved many Romanians to action quickly, thus results were achieved in a short period.
- A company brand may have trouble enlisting the help of customers to do the same, however, there is potential for a promotional opportunity to motivate loyal customers to act on their behalf. Such a campaign is risky though especially considering it would have a definite shelf life as customer it is not feasible for customers to keep up the sustained efforts need for continuous results.
- Businesses typically partner with SEO companies to manage their reputation and employ the efforts to achieve sustained success.
If you have any questions about this case, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ryanwbudd or if you'd link more information on how internet marking can move your company forward.