Female hands holding heart and heartbeat symbol with search engi


What is Auto-Complete?

As you type a query into Google, the search bar will offer up suggestions relevant to the characters you have entered. These auto-complete suggestions are generated based on how often certain terms have been used in web searches, and how often they appear online.

It is generally accepted that the number of clicks on these suggestions is factored into Google algorithms generating auto-complete forms. This is because clicking on suggestions triggers web searches, which in turn increases the number of total searches made with the suggested terms. Consequently, search terms offered through auto-complete are likely to retain their place as popular suggestions, being part of a self-perpetuating cycle.

The implications of self-perpetuating auto-complete suggestions

For most, auto-complete suggestions can either be a tremendous convenience, or a fun gateway to some internet off-roading. For business owners, there are seriously negative implications of self-perpetuating auto-complete suggestions.

Because the auto-complete suggestions are generated by search term volume and frequency, these auto-fill forms can leave your company with a negative reputation even when the associated terms are outdated or untrue. Due to its primitive design, bad press can attach itself to your business through auto-complete suggestions, even when negative search terms are used to verify your company’s positive reputation. If many searchers query Google about “Your Business Name complaints” as a means of eliminating any doubt of the company’s validity, an auto-complete association will be built between the company name and the word “scam.” This has obvious negative implications for a company’s reputation. Auto-complete can thus act as a reinforcer of bad press, whether it be true or not. Squeaky-clean companies with an active interest in their online reputation are also at risk. Searching your own company name alongside negative terms to seek out internet slander or bad reviews has the same effect.

Auto-complete suggestion generation can fabricate unjustly bad press for your company, and also perpetuate the circulation of outdated but sensationalist headlines. Google gauges the level of interest in certain sites by sporadically displaying chosen web content on the first page of search result listings, and monitoring the amount of click-through activity it receives from this privileged position. If any of your company’s bad press is selected for this interest test, you may be in trouble, and left at the mercy of a snowball effect. If your business has had a bad review from a disgruntled ex-employee, or if legal documents were circulated, you can expect that this scandalous search headline will attract many curious clickers. Bad news is sexy in every medium, and this elevated traffic level will influence Google to buoy this negative press to the top of the search listings. The popularity of negative terms translates to their on-going inclusion in auto-complete suggestions associated with your company.

What are search engines doing about this problem?

The troubling reality is that search engines do very little to control the reputation implications of their auto-complete suggestions. They are often unwilling to acknowledge its snow-balling effect, or its negative perpetuation of potentially outdated information. The bottom line is that auto-complete suggestions have the potential to create an unfair public perception of your company.

Google has made an effort to suppress the use of the word “scam,” as well as disallowing any racist, sexist, or obscene terms to be attached to company names in auto-complete suggestions. Still, many defamatory terms are still allowed. Google does not regulate whether your company’s suggestions include the words “lawsuit,” “scandal,” “overpriced,” or “class action,” for example.

Google and Bing will both take down negative search results if presented with court orders establishing their content to be harassing or falsely defamatory, but they offer no such service for auto-complete suggestions.

What can be done about damaging auto-complete suggestions?

Though you cannot actively manipulate auto-complete suggestions without violating Google’s terms of service, there are some white-hat practices that can be employed to minimize the damages resulting from negative term associations.

1. Promote search terms through marketing efforts

It is very common nowdays for companies to steer their searcher audiences towards certain terms by stressing key words in radio and television advertisements. As these terms are used more often by searchers, auto-complete suggestions will begin to reflect your preferred search term’s popularity.

Aside from it’s reputation management benefits, asking your audience to Google key words can be a more effective advertisement than one providing a website URL. Encouraging certain search terms is often easier for the audience to remember than the perfect spelling of a web address. Furthermore, this approach gets the person thinking about your company in definitive terms rather than passively memorizing a brand name. Coaching certain general terms can also increase your visibility by leveraging auto-complete to insert your brand name after these general terms are used.

2. Encourage your network to popularize your desired search terms

If you have a severe reputation management crisis on your hands, this may be your best bet. Basically, you approach your friends, family members, and employees, and ask that they Google your preferred search terms as often as possible to build up the auto-complete association. It is important that they click on your company’s search listing for better results.

Conversely, you need to stop all negative searches. You may be seriously tempted to gauge your online reputation by searching negative terms, but you must resist. Each time you run a search with negative terms, you contribute to damaging auto-complete suggestions.

3. Research your brand’s top terms, and build on existing positives

Ubersuggest is a valuable tool for this research, and will allow you to pinpoint your focus. Instead of trying to construct some entirely new positive search terms, try to bolster existing ones that have been proven as popular among searchers.

Young businessman touching web browser address bar with www sign

Importance of Local Search and Internet Identity

The Internet Age is upon us. In this era of convenience technology, consumers are turning to their digital devices to find out everything they need to know about local businesses. Every successful business needs a smart website, social media presence, and an online reputation. In the current market landscape, neglecting your online presence is a big mistake.

For most people, the internet functions as a gateway to your business. Over 90% of consumers use the internet when researching local products and services. Though the internet may not be the only avenue used to gather information about your business, it is the most convenient and widely-used channel. Nearly all smart-phone users have used their devices to look for local information. Your internet presence should be tacit; you should only be asking yourself how you can distinguish your business from the other options that local searches will provide.

Effective internet marketing is essential, but also cost-effective. Consider that phone book advertising can cost business owners thousands of dollars each month, and yet over 50% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books when conducting their research.

The value of internet and local search options is only increasing. In 2014, 140-billion local searches will occur on desktop and mobile devices. As the years go by, these searches will overtake all other forms of business research.

Existing customers also rely on your website. Managing your online presence is not only a long-term adaptation strategy. The number 1 reason for conducting an online search is to find the location of a known business, which means that even existing client bases depend on your business’s online presence.

Your online presence boosts your business’s credibility. Over one-third of survey respondents claimed that a clean and smart-looking website was a significant factor when gauging the credibility of a business. Furthermore, over 30% of consumers said they were more likely to contact a business if they had a website. You can also boost your website’s credibility by being mindful of your online reputation. 9 out of 10 consumers consult online reviews before they purchase local services. The growing importance of online reviews accurately reflects the favorable social shift towards internet technologies. Most consumers now trust the credibility of online reviews at the same level that they value personal recommendations.

Websites are crucial, but even the most compelling content and innovative layout is useless if you can’t quickly get eyes on it. Your website must be prominent, and highly visible. Over 90% of searchers will not go beyond the first page of search results. Consumers seems to attach a value judgment to search result prominence and ordering, especially as public expectations for Google’s smart search engines continue to rise. In this fast-paced world, contemporary consumers are making quick business decisions, with nearly two-thirds of mobile users visiting the business on the same day that they located its local information online.

Your business’s social media identity is a vital piece of your overall online presence. Social media’s popularity is a powerful resource to tap into to increase your business’s visibility. Over 70% of your business competitors are using social media to promote their businesses, engaging these enormous (and expanding) markets. Social media offers you a chance for indirect product placement, while also boosting your credibility and making your business information more accessible. 7/10 consumers indicated that they were more likely to use a local business that has information available on social media.

A successful business requires a professional online identity. Investing in your website, social media presence, and local search options is a cost-effective way to engage new and old customers, boost your credibility, and allow you to remain relevant by adapting to an increasingly digital market.

Content conept in word tag cloud

Google Search Alterations Bring SEO Companies and Social Media Marketers Together

Google’s various search algorithms include Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. These algorithms influence almost all online searches. These algorithms sort out negative searches, also known as sites filled with keywords, copied content, and controlled hyperlinks. Therefore, the pressure is on for higher search rankings as relevancy and originality of content is of crucial importance.

Building links is changing, and SEO (search engine optimization) is considered to be out. Content marketing is now the main focus. Google does not release information regarding how they measure activity on websites. However, it is assumed that search rankings are based on context of content. Therefore, if content is written by a known writer, it will rank higher. SEO analysts also believe that Google’s updated algorithms take user’s activity with the content into consideration. This could include time spent on a given site and organic links.

Social media requires human attention and creativity. SEO is focused on numbers, social media demands humans be perceived as people, not as statistics. Businesses that are using a content focused strategy are doing very well. To promote and maintain a brand you need to have the ability to create quality content. A SEO team is unable to offer all of the factors needed to create quality content marketing.

Google’s algorithm alterations make Google’s search more user friendly. Users are searching using questions and complete phrases instead of typing in keywords. Content marketers need to keep up with the content demand while retaining SEO.

Copy - Paste

Duplicated Content & SEO

Duplicate content refers to content that appears on the internet in more than one location. There are millions of Web pages on the internet and when you are performing a search using a search engine such as Google, it tries to find the most relevant results for your query.

Google has an algorithm (a set of rules to be followed) to weed out any duplicate content for pages found in search results. The part in the algorithm responsible for the quality of content is named “Panda”. Websites that are written uniquely with little or no duplicated content and have high visitor engagement (low bounce rate, very informative, provide answers to the search phrase, etc.) are promoted in Google’s top search results (rankings).

The risks of having duplicate content on your web site is that it can get penalized by Google. This means that pages with duplicated content (and eventually your entire website) will show up in Google search results less and less which leads to decreased traffic and can eventually be considered spam and then removed from the Google index entirely (site wide penalty).

Ways to avoid duplicated content include; not posting the same information or article on more than one of your own websites, social media platforms, video sharing sites like YouTube and even more of a common case would be using the same content on sites such as LinkedIn. Never copy or paste any content on to a website or page where the majority of it will be duplicated. It is okay to quote some content but the bulk must be uniquely written. If you know that there is text on your website that has been copy/pasted from another of your websites or anywhere else , they must be rewritten or deleted. Having thin content which means extremely short blogs or articles with uninteresting information will affect your ranking as well, they must be rewritten and/or beefed up with engaging content.

A few examples of duplicate content could include;

URL Parameters – when tracking analytics through URLs, the same page may be accessible via different URLs and that’s when duplicated content can emerge. Having multiple URLs can diminish a links popularity. Having long URLs with tracking numbers may also decrease the chances of a user selecting that result.


Printer-only Versions – if a website has a regular and a printer-friendly page for each article and neither of these pages have a noindex meta tag, then the search engine will not know which one to show and eventually one of the pages can be filtered out due to duplicated content.


Session ID’s – when tracking visitors on your page, sometimes a “session” is created so a brief history of what the visitor did between pages can be stored. So each visitor has a session ID and each page they click creates a new session ID. If you have 20 pages on your website, and 20 visitors a day, your website now has 400 indexible URLs.


There are a few different ways that content can be duplicated and affect the traffic and analytics of a website, but there are also solutions. Google’s algorithms will most often only choose one URL in the results, so if you have a preference, let Google know by;

301 Redirects – if you have a website that is www.example.com, and it is switched to http://www.example.com they are perceived as the same URL but considered two different web sites. A 301 will redirect visitors from one to the other to help you get the best leads when doing this the pages are not competing but working cohesively to create a stronger relevancy and popularity.

Rel=”canonical” – you can insert a canonical link that is a soft redirect as a quick fix for duplicate content. It is slightly slower than a 301 redirect. Usually used when you have a duplicate version of a page but the URLs differ. This tag groups them together.

Duplicate content happens often, and between the millions of pages on the internet there is bound to be similar information and sentence structure across a few thousand. By using the fixes mentioned above and also having Google Webmaster as a tool, you can be sure that your website ranking will rise by getting rid of any duplicated content.

no duplicate content

Is Duplicate Content Hurting My Site?

Duplicate content is an important topic for organic search and almost a daily question we try and explain to our customers and partners. It has been addressed many times by Google and overall the simple answer is yes, duplicate content will hurt your site. However it is well explained in this Matt Cutts video interview and we thoughts it can help make this topic somewhat more clear. Please watch the video and should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your 360 representative.

customers over map

Is Guest Blogging Okay?

Don’t sweat it, websites who use guest bloggers and contributors. Google is not planning on punishing you under its new “guest blogging equals spam” cautionary notice that they released yesterday. They are just trying to clarify that guest blogging is only corrupt if the intention a post is written is to gain links in hopes to influence Google rankings.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, stated that “guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy” yesterday. Due to this, some publications worried that having guest posts meant they could face a future penalty dished out by Google.

There are still many good reasons to guest blogging every now and then (exposure, branding, community). Those reasons were in existence long before Google and they will continue to be in years to come. There are some phenomenal guest bloggers currently out there – those do not include those bloggers who simply only search for high rankings.

The focus is on the low-quality bloggers or the spam websites that latch onto this phenomenon as their strategy to build their rankings. Because of these types of people, we must be cautious when someone suggests you read a guest blog article.

What Cutts stated was a prolongation of what Google has continued to say time and again. Google wants to compensate websites that have earned their links traditionally. They don’t want to reward those who have gained links without any actual effort. Publications who will publish just about any guest post are an example of those who are in the wrong.

How do Google’s problem solvers figure which posts are guest posts or not? Are they doing style analysis on prose now? Or are they counting outbound links that are posted or are they searching for unusual keywords? Or is it just a matter of looking for spam filled advertisements? The answer is that it does not and that it cannot – at least not very easily.

Cutts is cautioning those who accept guest blog posts or those who do a lot of guest blogging that they may find themselves with a spam penalty. The penalty can easily be enforced manually if the spam police of Google did a review. It can be compared to when Google warned against advertorials in the past year, which was followed by a penalty they applied to Interflora and many UK newspapers.

There are a few cases in which Google has algorithms that are made specifically to detect behavior that is considered “spam”. This may include “thin content” that the Panda filter looks at or spamming that the Penguin filter attacks. It is possible that Google can try and develop a strategy that can easily detect if a guest post is done for SEO reasons or not  – but that would be challenging and it is impossible at the moment.

Cutts is explaining that if you have been accepting guest blogging or taking part in guest blogging for Google position purposes, you are warned. If you site happens to be flagged by Google, the spam team is simply reviewing it. If it is indeed confirmed to be a scheme by the team, Google may decide to penalize you.

google maps

Google Demanding Businesses to Validate Their Map Listings

google maps

Google Demanding Businesses to Validate Their Listings – If Not, Removal from Google Maps

Google has contacted some business owners, requiring them to verify their listings within the next three weeks. If they fail to do so, they may soon see their listings removed from Google Maps and Google+ Local. The subject of the e-mail is reportedly titled:  “Action Required: You have 3 weeks to save your Google Places Listing”.  It is not confirmed how many businesses have gotten this e-mail or how many will be effected by the new rule.

Google’s Jade Wang stated that these e-mails are not a scam and should be taken seriously. The content of the e-mail reads:

Due to changes on Google Maps, we’d like to inform you that unless you review and confirm the information in your Google Places account, we will no longer be able to keep it and show it to Google users after February 14, 2014.

As a result, on this date your listing “LISTING NAME HERE” may be deleted.

If you wish to keep your listing active, follow these three easy steps:

  1. Log into your Google Places account

  2. Review and update your information

  3. Click the “Submit” button


The Google Places Team

If you are worried that the e-mail didn’t reach your inbox and went to your junk mail instead, then you can take a few steps to be in the clear. Jade reported on this issue to give people in this situation peace of mind:

“If you didn’t receive this e-mail don’t worry. Please log into Places for Business, take a look at your business information, update it if necessary, and click Submit. You’ll need to do this for all listings in your account by February 21, 2014, so they can stay on Google Maps. Otherwise, you’ll need to add your business information and undergo PIN verification using Google Places again. “