Sam Michelson Unpacks Google’s Algorithm on i24 News

Five Blocks CEO, Sam Michelson, explains how Google usually works – weighing searcher intent, a source’s authority, and other considerations.
He talks with Sarah Williamson about when the algorithm breaks its own rules during a crisis like COVID19.


Sam Michelson Discusses Reputation Management on i24News

Our CEO, Sam Michelson, tells Sarah Williamson of i24NEWS Business Weekly about Five Blocks and online reputation management. He also talks about “shelf-life,” and its impact on digital reputation management strategy. Hint: Don’t take your eye off the long-term, it’s really important for search.

Have a look:


Financial Sector Discoverability Case Study

Typical Discoverability Problem

Searching for X company or individual does not yield optimal results. In some cases, the brand may be difficult to find if there is another prominent entity with the same name. Alternatively, the search results may contain sparse or irrelevant content, due to the brand keeping a low profile.


Build and strengthen a sustainable online profile informed by the client’s goals.

Tactics typically include:

      • Analyze peers or competitors to ascertain typical online reputation for similar entities
      • Identify opportunities to launch and promote content
      • Focus on ownership of search properties – owned websites, profiles, social media
      • Identity existing relevant media content – look for promotion opportunities

Case Study Background:

A New York-based private equity fund we will call ‘Starr Greenwood Group’ is interested in raising a new fund. They are concerned that searchers are not able to easily find accurate information about them and their previous track record. This is further complicated by the fact that there is a fund in Australia with a nearly identical name. 

Like many similar entities, the firm has never focused on promoting itself and so has never built out more than a one-page website. They have not built business profile pages or established a corporate presence on any social media platform. Their current online reputation does not accurately reflect the brand.

Strategy & Tactics: 

After meeting with the client to understand their business needs, requirements, and sensitivities, Five Blocks conducted an in-depth peer analysis, comparing the firm to others with similar business goals. 

The analysis concluded that for this type of fund the key opportunities included: making the existing website more robust; seeking a Wikipedia presence; optimizing the Google Knowledge graph; as well as claiming profiles on sites such as Crunchbase and Glassdoor. Most importantly, an updated Bloomberg profile seemed to be the missing key.

Additionally, we identified an opportunity to work with the firm’s head of communications to get thought-leadership content published. We were able to recommend which publications were most likely to rank well for a company like theirs, and were then able to help optimize the content to appear prominently within the first page search results for the fund.


After 3-6 months: 

The firm’s online reputation was significantly optimized, ensuring that stakeholders (in this case, potential investors) could easily find their website, as well as relevant profiles and articles.


Corporate Brand Identity Case Study

Background & Challenge:

A client from the Food & Beverage sector (obviously, we are keeping details vague enough to maintain anonymity) with a brand built on “healthy / clean living” had negative Google results surrounding a specific regulatory issue; some brand confusion; and mixed online reviews. 

Strategy & Tactics:

The overall strategy was to focus on promotion of (copious) positive content to demote negative content and enhance / clarify brand.

The game plan was to:

  1. Analyze data and peers
  2. Optimize owned content (company’s sites)
  3. Leverage google features (like Knowledge Panel and Questions)
  4. Enhance social presence so accounts showed up in search
  5. Leverage Wikidata to disambiguate brand identity issues
  6. Leverage Wikipedia by working with the editor community
  7. Leverage PR efforts  / News in cooperation with PR company


After 3-6 months: 

  1. Actively promoted desired content, improving online reputation for the brand across locations (USA, UK, Canada)
  2. Drastic improvements to Social Profiles (particular success with Twitter ranking) and Wikidata
  3. Optimized all company sites
  4. The right brand information appeared appropriately online

This in turn:

  1. Demoted negative content across the focus keywords across locations (NY, UK, Canada)
  2. Achieved similar progress on 70+ secondary terms as a result of our ongoing work
  3. Helped Google distinguish between the brand name and its products so that customers and stakeholders could find more accurate information that better served their needs

Special Notes:

Knowledge Panel: Brand clarity 

  1. We ensured that the official logo was uploaded to Wiki Commons, legal formalities covered, and proper associations in Wikidata were entered
  2. As a result, the Google Knowledge Panel – for corporate queries – now features the most updated company logo, sourcing the image from Wikipedia
  3. The KP went from appearing as a local business with a map to featuring the national brand and its products

Google’s Answer Box (Now: People Also Ask)

This feature utilizes accordion expansion design. When users click on the questions, they expand within the Google search results page to show answers as well as the site from which the answers were sourced. 

We ensured content optimization such that Google used the company’s content to answer common questions users have. 


We worked with the editor community to ensure accuracy about the product, corporate history, and nutrition. 

Future proofing:

At the conclusion of the six-month program, we:

  1. Continued monitoring all keywords
  2. Did vigilant ongoing work to continue demoting negative content, increasing ownership of the narrative, etc.
  3. Focused on content that went beyond product, especially evergreen content e.g. working the PR company on positive media coverage and thought leadership in the area of health
  4. Acted as a force multiplier for all digital efforts – website, social, PR, video, content deployment, etc. 

Data Intelligence

We have spent more than ten years tracking and analyzing hundreds of millions of data points and developing unique tools to inform strategies and recommendations for clients. Our focus on data collection and analysis allows us to provide solutions to clients using evidence-based methods.

Our data provides an unparalleled view of a company’s brand and that of their peers and competitors. Five Blocks possesses the largest database of historic reputation data for tens of thousands of major corporations and prominent executives worldwide. This giant cache of search data and analysis informs our strategies, helps us identify opportunities, and allows us to detect changes that will be important for our clients. Five Blocks’ technologists are continually innovating and working on the next generation of data analysis tools to help our clients take control of their digital reputation.