Curious about where your company is showing up on the web? You might think, “Where’s the harm in quickly googling my business name?” And that’s where you’d be wrong! Googling your company name may seem harmless enough, but it can actually have surprisingly negative results. Here’s how.
Google Keeps Track of Your Search Habits
Google’s algorithm is designed to return personalized results. Factoring in your search history, search terms you favor, what location you’re searching from, and other data, Google’s search results are tailored specifically for you. So when you search, you get different results than your neighbors or coworkers, even when you search for the same terms. One way Google compiles data for personalized results is by paying attention to both your past searches and how you interact with search results. This way, it can deliver the most satisfying results to you. So, if you frequently search for a specific keyword phrase—perhaps your company name or your town name paired with a service you provide—Google takes note.
More Importantly, It Keeps Track of What You Click
Frequently googling your company name becomes problematic when you factor clicks into the equation. Since Google personalizes its search results for each individual user, it only wants to deliver results it thinks you’ll like. So, for example, if you search for your company name and don’t click on any of the results, Google’s algorithm assumes you didn’t like any of the results listed. No big deal, the first time. But the next time you do the same search, Google is likely to display slightly different results. After all, you told Google (by not clicking on any of the results) you didn’t like the answers it gave the first time. And if you don’t click on any of the results the second time—or the third time, fourth time, and so on—Google will yet again assume you don’t like the results and try another variant. The cycle will continue.
That’s why it’s so easy to drive your company’s placement down the list in your own personalized Google search results. And it’s also conceivable that if you search for your own company or the same service phrase frequently enough, you could impact the results displayed when other people search, too. So, while there can definitely be reasons to occasionally search for your own company or keywords, don’t make a habit of it! If you search too frequently, the only thing you can be sure of is that you’re skewing the results displayed. If you’re definitely not getting an accurate picture of your company’s placement on the search results page AND you might be driving your listings down the results page, why do it?!
It’s Not Always Bad
Now that we’ve scared you straight about not googling yourself frequently, we do want to note the two reasons to OCCASIONALLY google yourself.
- Managing your reputation. The old saying, “All press is good press,” isn’t actually true. Bad PR can ruin a business by destroying your reputation and running off potential customers. That’s why it’s important to know what’s being said about your company online. The occasional Google search can help you do that. Alternately, you can let Google do the work for you by setting up Google Alerts. This service enables you to set specific keywords you’re interested in (such as your business name). Google will then send you a notification when it finds new results containing those search terms (blogs, articles, websites, etc.). This lets you keep an eye on what people are saying about your company WITHOUT constantly googling yourself.
- Keeping your competitors in line. Did you know that Google AdWords allows companies to bid on their competitors’ company names as keywords? That means when someone searches for your company name, your competitor’s ad could display on the results page. There’s no way to know if this is happening without doing the occasional Google search. And, unfortunately, you can’t prevent this kind of ad from appearing (Google won’t take them down, as these ads adhere to current AdWords policies). You can file a complaint if a competitor is using your trademarked name in ad copy, but the competitor can still bid on your name as a keyword. Googling yourself occasionally can turn up these kinds of ads. Once you know a competitor is bidding on your name as a keyword, you can decide how to proceed. For example, you may decide that turnabout is fair play and bid on their company name as a PPC keyword for your ads…
Find Your Balance
Balance is the name of the game when it comes to searching for your company on Google. Too frequently can create problems, but too infrequently can miss other problems. Perhaps the best approach is “an occasional google keeps the doctor away,” but that doesn’t have quite the same ring… Have questions about your company’s web presence? We can help!