Incorporating Auto Complete Into SEO Strategy

As people use the internet more and more to conduct research for purchase decisions, the need to maintain a good brand image and decrease the visibility of negative statements on this medium, becomes just as important as it is in the physical market. This is known as Online Reputation Management (ORM).

Google’s Auto-complete (the 4 suggestions which appear below the search field when you begin typing a query) has presented yet another factor to consider in ORM. If ‘complaints’ or ‘scam’ come up as suggestions during the query, you may end up losing the customer even before showing up on the SERP.

A recent study by internet marketing company Go Fish Digital looked to find some pattern behind these suggestions and how you as a webmaster can affect what suggestions are displayed.

The Study

Using the top 10 suggested terms for the branded keywords of the companies listed in the Fortune 500, the top 500 of the Inc. 5000 and last 500 companies of the top 600 of the Inc. 5000, they statistically treated the 13500 values to reveal what were the most common suggestions amongst these companies. This gave them an idea of how the suggestion differed between small, medium and large companies.

The ranking factors they postulated for these auto-complete suggestions included:

• Search volume
• Searcher location
• Social signals
• Keyphrase mentions on the web

The Results

Combining all of the data they were able to gather a list of the top ten most likely auto-complete suggestions across all company sizes (note: the study was conducted in America and therefore influenced by local search data for the US.):

1. Careers

No surprise that the main reason people research a company is to see if there are any available positions. Make sure to have an area on your site for this. Try to get job seekers to use your company in conjunction with “careers” in the search engine rather than giving them a link, so that it begins to rank higher as an auto-complete.

2. Jobs

A synonym of the above, it reinforces that people’s main interest in a company is finding work. Choose either term for your site but maintain consistency.

3. Wiki

An abbreviation for Wikipedia. Large companies can safely start their own wiki page without worrying about it appearing like a stub or unnatural. Medium companies should try being associated with an entry on their industry (can be country specific).

4. Inc

This usually indicates that the user could be trying to find out more about the company’s structure: the corporate culture, departments, ownership etc. Ensure that you include these pages and information on your site.

5. Investor Relations

This isn’t strictly for companies with IPOs who trade publicly. You can have various resources for this type of query. Reports, executive assessments, corporate news or any supplementary company information can be used to supply information.

6. Reviews

This is the part a website owner needs to worry about. Content exterior to your site can really affect these results. You can rank your reviews above other sites by encouraging customers to write comments on your Google+ Local page or on your actual site. This way, you have some degree of control over the content and quality.

7. Stock

Keep some finance data and general information on stock performance and the effect of the market on share prices in your industry. If your company isn’t public, try to include some content on your site that explains a little more about it.

8. Locations

This will only really help if you have multiple offices or outlets. If you do, you should build a small page on your website for each of the locations. You may end up getting the individual locations in your auto-complete too.

9. LLC

As with Inc., this usually indicates that a user is trying to find out more about the structure and composition of a company. Make the information available on your site.

10. News

You can add this section to your articles page. You don’t have to constantly update it, just try to occasionally add some articles about recent industry developments or large changes to your company.

Influencing Auto-Completes

It can be challenging trying to get people to associate the harmless terms with your company in their search query. One of the best ways to encourage it is to provide for these information requests on your website. That way you always have control over the message.

You can also use your social media campaigns to promote these aspects of your business and try to get your followers to use these terms when searching for that type of information. Try to include them as keywords when publishing new content.