Google Changed Their Search Algorithm – What Should Your Company Do?

On Sept 1-2 the search marketing community began reporting evidence that Google was rolling out a change to its main ranking algorithm. This is the process which determines what sites appear in search results and how high they rank.

According to Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable, there were anecdotal reports of significant fluctuations in search results – both favorable and unfavorable. There was also confirmation by internet search tracking tools (though not directly from Google) that a change was in process.

To assess how this change may impact our clients and their industries, we gathered data on search results for a variety of companies and individuals.

Our conclusion is that these changes may have been quite impactful for some smaller companies with less stable results. For larger companies however, represented in our research by the Fortune 500 (F500), there was no notable change in search results. There were no significant changes in either the domains that typically appear or in their rankings. The same was true for searches for Fortune 500 CEOs.

The following two graphs depict the average Google page 1 position for the top sites appearing for F500 companies.

This graph depicts site rankings over time for the five most popular sites.



This graph depicts site rankings over time for the 6-11 most popular sites.



From our research we found that larger companies are less vulnerable to fluctuations in their search results. They tend to own a significant proportion of the page through their corporate assets and social media properties such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Their results also frequently contain third-party content from sites like Wikipedia, Bloomberg, and the NY Times.

While algorithm fluctuations are unlikely to shake the online reputation of larger companies, smaller ones may want to protect themselves. The best way to protect a brand’s online reputation is to focus on owning the story. This means launching owned properties including a corporate website and social media and business profiles. It is also wise to work with your PR or communications team to ensure that you have positive coverage in third-party media. In addition, all of this content should be optimized to appear prominently for brand searches.

While Google and other search engines will constantly work to improve their algorithms, your job is to make sure that your brand has a deliberate, ongoing strategy that ensures an optimal digital reputation.