Do You Know What Your Search Does?

I was working through some training with a client and we got on the subject of Search Engine Optimization.  We all know that with the Hummingbird changes that Google introduced earlier this year there have definitely been some major changes, but our conversation brought me to a somewhat enlightening discovery.  Google, and potentially really any search engine, has the ability to control the image of your brand through their search results, particularly through the changes brought about by Hummingbird. 

See with Hummingbird, Google chooses to pull a great deal of information from Google Plus pages to populate demographic and company information for search results.  This can be easily demonstrated by searching for a major sports team such as the Houston Astros.  When you conduct that search Google populates a box on the right with information about the brand.  Now it is kind of unclear exactly where this information comes from, unless you have a Google Plus page.  If you brand is using Google Plus, this information is clearly coming from that account information.

The shocker for us was when we started running some searches based on their keyword targets of the past, and when searching for them specifically Google gave us that wonderful little box to the right with some very relevant information.  The problem was that instead of the client’s logo, displayed was a not so wonderful image of a person completely unrelated to their organization.  Now the image wasn’t vulgar, or insulting, but it wasn’t what they had in mind to represent their brand.  Since the organization didn’t have that Google Plus page, information was being populated from a variety of sources - some of which were accurate and some of which were not.

The moral of the story is simple, even though it might not be the best social media platform out there, Google Plus is going to be an important part of your brand.  Like it or not it might be time to embrace it to some extent.  The second moral, and the big lesson I learned personally is that you should always be aware of how your brand is being represented, and that includes how Google chooses to represent you.