Google Autocomplete has become a useful tool for searchers, providing quick and relevant suggestions as they type in their search queries.
But what if those suggested search terms are negative? This is the reality for many companies and individuals targeted by Google Autocomplete’s algorithm.
Defamatory keywords such as “complaints,” “scams,” “lawsuits” or “controversies” can create a negative narrative and lead to reputational risks.
As AI-generated search results continue to rise, Google Autocomplete’s impact on online reputation will only become more pronounced.
Let’s explore how Google Autocomplete works and why it can be a silent but significant threat to your online reputation. This article explores:
- The Mechanics of Google Autocomplete
- How Google Autocomplete Predictions Shape Reputations
- How AI Plays a Role in Google Autocomplete
- What Google Says About Harmful and Negative AutoComplete Suggestions
- Turn Off, Report or Remove Negative Autocomplete Suggestions
- How to Manage Your Online Reputation in Light of Google Autocomplete
The Mechanics of Google Autocomplete
Google Autocomplete is a feature that predicts search queries based on the user’s initial input. This is made possible through algorithms and machine learning processes that analyze popular search terms, top results for those terms and user behavior.
As you type in your query, Google’s algorithm suggests the most likely phrase or keyword to complete it, taking into account several factors, including:
- Virality/Trending Topics: If a particular topic or keyword is trending, it will likely show up in Autocomplete suggestions.
- Location: Google Autocomplete can be geolocated to you, meaning that the search terms suggested may be influenced by your location.
- Language: The language associated with a given keyword can also influence Autocomplete results.
- Search Volume: Consistent search volume for specific keyword triggers that term being displayed in Autocomplete suggestions.
- Keyword Associations: If a keyword related to your search is mentioned on a website Google deems trustworthy, it may also show up in the Autocomplete suggestions.
The downside is that it sometimes suggests irrelevant keywords unrelated to what you were searching for. These incorrect suggestions can lead to negative perceptions of your brand.
How Google Autocomplete Predictions Shape Reputations
Google Autocomplete has both positive and negative repercussions. It predicts keywords that can strengthen your online reputation if you’re a business or individual with a positive reputation.
However, if your name or brand is associated with negative keywords, it can discourage potential customers from doing business with you, resulting in a loss of revenue.
Here are some companies that have suffered from reputational risk due to Autocomplete:
Enron, a defunct energy company, concealed massive trading losses, leading to one of the biggest accounting scandals in history. A simple Google search for “Enron” will bring up Autocomplete suggestions such as “Enron scandal summary,” “what did Enron do” and “how did Enron get caught.”
These negative keywords serve as a constant reminder of the company’s downfall and can cause reputation damage even years after its demise.
Everyone knows about Uber, the ride-hailing giant that disrupted the taxi industry. However, a simple Google search for “Uber” shows Autocomplete suggestions such as “Uber sexual harassment” and “Uber scandal.”
For some, these negative keywords may outweigh the positive aspects of Uber’s services and impact their decision to use the app.
In 2016, Wells Fargo bank was fined $3 billion after getting caught creating fraudulent bank accounts on behalf of their clients without their consent or knowledge. To this day, the company continues to suffer from the financial and reputational consequences of this scandal.
With the search terms “wells fargo scandal 2016” and “wells fargo scandal summary” associated with the brand name in Google Search, the company has its work cut out for itself to make the incident a thing of the past.
How AI Plays a Role in Google Autocomplete
Google’s algorithm uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to determine which search suggestions appear.
This means that Autocomplete is not just based on what people are searching for but also on their behavior and interactions with these suggested keywords. This can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle where negative keywords continue to appear and reinforce a negative narrative about an individual or brand.
On the brighter side, AI can also help identify and remove defamatory or irrelevant keywords from Autocomplete suggestions. Google has a strict policy against displaying content that violates its guidelines, including hate speech, harassment and impersonation.
Artificial intelligence can quickly detect and remove these types of content from Autocomplete suggestions.
What Google Says About Harmful and Negative AutoComplete Suggestions
Google has stated that it is committed to providing its users safe, accurate and helpful information. To this end, they have implemented strict policies against displaying harmful Autocomplete suggestions.
They have systems designed to prevent Autocomplete predictions that are violent, hateful, dangerous, disparaging, sexually explicit or those that lead to such content. However, Google admits that their Autocomplete predictions are not perfect, as stated on their support page:
Source: Google Support
The good news is that you can report harmful Autocomplete suggestions to Google (more on that later).
Turn Off, Report or Remove Negative Autocomplete Suggestions
Just as Google Autocomplete can generate negative suggestions, it also provides a way to limit this. You can turn off the autocomplete feature, report an inappropriate prediction to Google or work towards removing the negative keywords linked to your name or brand.
Turn Off Trending Google Searches
To avoid receiving trending search suggestions, simply adjust your settings:
- Open your computer’s web browser and navigate to google.com.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Settings.
- In the settings menu, select Other settings.
- Look for Desktop preferences and toggle off Autocomplete with trending searches.
Turn Off Google’s Related Search Suggestions
When signed out of your Google Account, you might receive personalized recommendations based on your recent search. To opt out of this, disable Search customization with these steps:
- Visit google.com.
- Scroll down to the page’s bottom and click on Settings.
- In the settings menu, locate and click on Search settings.
- Under the Search settings, navigate to Search customization.
- In the Autocomplete section, you will find “Show all suggestions,” deselect this option.
Report a Google AutoComplete Prediction
You can also report inappropriate search suggestions to Google. This is a great option if you are aware of any negative search predictions associated with your name or brand.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Navigate to google.com.
- Type in the offending keyword into the search bar and hit enter.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Report inappropriate predictions.
- Fill out the form with your name, email address and a brief explanation of why you believe the predictions were inappropriate.
- Click on Submit.
Google will analyze if the predictions were inappropriate but won’t guarantee that the suggestions will be removed. However, this can serve as a helpful way to bring attention to inaccurate or damaging suggestions.
Remove Negative Keywords from Your Website
If you have a legal or valid reason to request the removal of specific keywords from Google search autocomplete, you can submit a formal request through this form.
How To Avoid Online Reputation Damage in Light of Google Autocomplete
As we have seen, autocomplete predictions have the power to turn innocent searches into reputational risks. In today’s digital age, where your online reputation is just as important as your offline one, it’s crucial to protect it.
Here are some tips on how to maintain a positive online presence:
- Google yourself regularly. This might sound vain, but knowing what information is associated with your name is important. Check for negative autocomplete suggestions and take action if needed.
- Be mindful of what you post online. Once something is on the internet, it’s difficult to erase it completely. Think twice before posting or commenting on anything that could cause a reputational risk.
- Utilize privacy settings. Use privacy settings on social media platforms to control who can access your personal information.
- Monitor your online reviews. Respond promptly and professionally to negative reviews or comments about your brand. This shows that you take customer feedback seriously and are willing to address any issues.
- Stay up-to-date with SEO practices. Good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can help you control what information appears at the top of search results.
- Hire an online reputation management (ORM) service. If you have a large brand or company, it may be worth investing in ORM software or services. Doing so can help remove negative content and fix online reputation issues.
Minimize Google Autocomplete’s Reputational Risks With Rize
While you can’t control what people search for on Google, you can control what they find. Stay on Google Autocomplete’s good side by implementing online reputation management strategies to help you monitor, improve and protect your brand’s online image.
Rize Reviews, a full-service ORM agency, keeps your brand’s reputation intact by monitoring and analyzing online content, removing damaging content and generating positive reviews to mitigate reputational risk from Google Search Autocomplete suggestions.
With Rize, you can have peace of mind knowing that your brand is being portrayed accurately and positively across all digital channels.
Don’t let negative Autocomplete suggestions lead to reputation damage. Contact Rize Reviews today for a free demo.