Google Autocomplete can make finding answers easier. But it can also wreak havoc on your online reputation
What is autocomplete doing to your online reputation?
Google’s predictive text feature might make it easier to finish your searches. But it can also do serious damage to your online image.
And if you aren’t in control of your online rep, the wear and tear it’s causing will only get worse, leading to issues that become harder to fix with each passing day.
Learn how Google autocomplete and related searches not only harm your online presence, but also put you in a real bind when it comes to getting a job, earning a promotion and building the relationships you need to succeed.
So, what is Google Autocomplete?
Google Autocomplete is the search engine’s way of making online searches faster and easier. Available whenever you access the Google search bar, the autocomplete feature offers users a list of suggestions for finishing their query once they begin to type. These instant recommendations come in handy for completing the search and finding an answer quickly.
But while predictive search may be designed to make queries easier, Google search suggestions are often negative and unflattering. Bad results create an unwanted association with your name and point searchers toward results that strike at the very heart of your online reputation.
And if you aren’t taking proactive steps to disrupt and clear Google’s autocomplete suggestions, you’re likely to feel that impact for months or years to come.
How does the google suggest feature work?
Once you start typing something into Google, autocomplete provides a drop-down list of suggestions to fill out your search. These suggestions will change or adapt as the searcher continues typing to better match what they’re looking for.
The auto suggest algorithm fills out searches for your name based on five main factors:
- How often your name (the keyword) is searched
- Where the user is located during the search
- The time of day your name is searched
- Your footprint on popular social sites
- Each user’s unique search history
So what does this mean for you and your personal brand? Well, while different users may find (slightly) different predictions based on who they are and where they’re at, just one bad auto-fill at just the right moment is all that’s needed to link you to something negative.
And when that employer, manager, coworker or spouse follows that suggestion and finds that bad result, that prediction gets stronger. The more that follow it, the more likely it will show up during future searches of your brand.
What are related searches on Google?
Google related searches are the list of search phrases that appear near the bottom of search results pages after a query. Google’s algorithm populates this list based on keywords it determines are closely related to the original search phrase. While related searches are considered predictions, they differ from autocomplete in that they don’t always include the initial search.
Based on many of the same factors that fuel Google Autocomplete results, related searches provide users search options they likely wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. This is intended to simplify their search and get them the answers they need quickly.
Unfortunately, this effort (much like autocomplete) often results in lumping your name together with harmful or unwanted terms that can create real problems for your brand. By offering suggestions with a negative meaning, related searches can nurture and strengthen an unwelcome association with your name, preventing you from building the relationships you need to thrive.
How does Autocomplete and Related Search impact my online reputation?
Google’s predictive search features can impact your online image and success in a variety of ways.
Negative news attracts more attention than positive news online. And when bad auto suggestions and related searches pop up during searches of your name, they not only get more clicks, they also tend to:
- Hurt your job prospects
- Prevent that next raise or promotion
- Stand between you and a quality education
- Scare customers away from your business
- Damage relationships with friends, relatives and even your spouse
Hurt your job prospects
When Google autocomplete or related search offers a negative prediction during searches of your name, employers not only take notice. They also develop a bad first impression of your brand that can land your resume in the human resources recycle bin.
A recent CareerBuilder survey found nearly 70% of job recruiters use search engines to research your credentials during the hiring process. And more are using search to verify your skills and experience every year.
What’s more: 4 out of 10 employers will drop you from consideration after finding negative info tied to your personal brand, while more than 30% will burn your resume if a search links you to any sort of criminal behavior.
Because so many now rely on Google to screen candidates before the interview, that one past mistake could be the very thing keeping you form the job you deserve. What may have seemed a minor indiscretion at the time could be a major reason why Google suggestions are turning employers off and hurting your potential.
Prevent that next raise or promotion
As we’ve shown, an ugly Google auto suggest linked to your name can instantly tank your chances at landing your dream job. But what if you’re already with a great company and focused on taking your career to the next level? Or you happen to be next in line for the raise and promotion you’ve worked so hard to earn?
CareerBuilder found that just under 45% of employers check up on current employees online, using social media and search to have a closer look at employee behavior.
And not only could a manager or department head use what they find to cancel that much-deserved promotion, but a harmful item provided by Google autocomplete may be all they need to justify a pink slip.
Whether you’re comfortable where you’re at or have your eyes set on something more, a damaging related search or auto suggestion could be all your employer needs to put a stop to it all—ending what may have otherwise been a life-changing opportunity.
Scare people away from your business
If you own a small business, chances are pretty good your customers are using Google to research your brand. 90% of consumers now search local businesses online, while 8 of 10 comb through review sites to dig up info on your operation.
So, what happens when an unwanted autocomplete suggestion or related search shows up in your SERPs?
Autofill text like “reviews” and “lawsuit” may not be enough by themselves to create fear in the hearts of your customers. But when that person accepts that suggestion and completes their query, they’re likely to find negative results—the bad news item or post that sparked the prediction in the first place.
Once they discover those slanderous reviews or scurrilous articles reflecting poorly on your brand, they’re 82% more likely to move on to your competitors. And the more people that come across those damaging items, the more likely they’ll appear as Google search suggestions in the future, cutting deeper into your reputation and your bottom line.
What’s more: over half of job seekers would reject a job offer from a business with a negative reputation. This spotlights the impact a bad related search or predictive text can have not just on attracting business, but on your ability to hire the right people.
Stand between you and a quality education
Applying to colleges, or looking to further your academic career? Either way, you may want to Google yourself before hitting the books.
College admissions officers are likelier than ever to Google potential candidates—as well as to use what they’ve found to weed out candidates during the selection process. A prior mistake or youthful mishap detailed online may not only be what’s behind that bad Google Autocomplete prediction, but could be what’s weighing your application down and hurting your chance for acceptance.
In other words, a bad prediction could be all that’s standing between you and the quality education you need to be successful in today’s market.
And the longer you fail to deal with the problem, the harder and more expensive it will be to clear bad predictive search options showing up on Google, delaying access to quality academic opportunities months or even years down the road.
Damage relationships with friends, relatives and even your spouse
If you have a website, blog or profile on Twitter, you have an online footprint. And if that’s the case, your personal information is not only searchable, but available to anyone with internet service and the Google search app. This includes the people you care about most.
So, what happens when your closest friend or favorite grandma types your name into Google? Is Autocomplete pointing your loved ones toward something nice, or offering suggestions that show poorly on your personal brand, putting you in an awkward spot at that next Christmas party, neighborhood cookout or date night?
A negative auto suggestion or related search doesn’t just look bad; it creates a stigma that’s hard to shake off. A bad autocomplete cultivates an unwanted association that not only be affects your reputation, but may also be eroding the connections and trust between you and those that matter most.
How do I change google auto suggest and related searches?
Changing Google Autocomplete and related searches to produce better results for your brand isn’t easy, but there are things you can do to improve how you look in search and nudge the auto suggest algorithm in the right direction:
- Remove negative items from the web
- Build a positive and more robust online footprint
- Implement a professional autocomplete strategy
1. Remove negative items from the web
Auto suggestions like “complaints,” “reviews,” “lawsuit” and “arrest” don’t come from nowhere. Bad predictive terms show up and are strengthened by negative links, articles and review sites populating your search results, and are unlikely to disappear as long as those items have high visibility on the web.
Removing or suppressing records of that prior arrest or court case from search results may help mitigate the problem at the source, eliminating it from view and weakening a bad autocomplete prediction at its foundation. Though not always effective, negative results removal is often a good place to start when tackling an autocomplete problem.
2. Build a positive and more robust online footprint
Building a more positive and robust digital footprint can be a powerful way not only to carve out a more attractive online resume, but also to influence the Google autocomplete and create predictive terms that enable personal and professional success.
By developing and posting positive assets across the web, you’re working to fill search pages with items that showcase your attributes during queries of your name. And once when you begin to own more of your presence in search, you may start to dilute the predictive terms and related searches dragging your reputation through the mud.
3. Implement a professional autocomplete strategy
Affecting autocomplete and improving your online reputation is a complex, time-consuming chore. But with the right Google autocomplete removal team by your side, you can rest easy knowing your auto suggest and related search problems are being handled by proven search professionals, experts attacking your issues from every angle and working around the clock to ensure your online presence is working for you.