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.


Five Blocks to Present at 2018 PRWeek “PRDecoded” Conference in Chicago – Thursday, October 18

Curious to learn more about digital reputation management? Five Blocks will be in Chicago this week at the 2018 PR Week Conference.  The conference promises to be a master class for communications pros in the ever-evolving digital world. Come hear from the best in the business and be sure to catch our CEO, Sam Michelson, speaking on Thursday, October 18 at 10:45 when he’ll share keys for cracking a digital reputation crisis.  Don’t miss this informative and actionable conversation.

Our team will be at the conference all day and looks forward to seeing old friends and meeting new colleagues interested in discussing digital reputation management.

Wikipedia’s Role in Creating Your Brand Online

Establishing yourself or your company as a brand online is important.

By “brand” I mean getting to the point where Google is certain that your name (or company name) is associated with a specific entity – so that Google “knows” what most searchers mean when they search your brand. There are several reasons why achieving this is important:

  • Brands are treated much better. Their own website is invariably the #1 result in Google. Oftentimes an additional owned page ranks in the second position as well.
  • Search results for Google-recognized brands include a knowledge graph – the box of images (logos or images) and information appearing on the top right section of the Google results page.
  • Searches for brands tend to yield results that are relevant, timely, and useful (actionable).
  • When you search for a Google-recognized brand, you will find the results you seek more quickly – often without needing to click through to specific results.

More than a year ago our team began to see a strong connection between having a Wikipedia page and being presented as a Google-recognized brand online.

We found that a full knowledge graph (more than just the brand name and a map) was almost always dependent on having a Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia is pretty powerful. It is perhaps the only ubiquitous platform online free enough to accept input from virtually anyone, and at the same time strictly policed to ensure accuracy.

The end result is very useful for Google.



1) If a brand or individual is important – you should expect to see an entry for them in Wikipedia. This is correlated more often for politicians and celebrities than it is for executives at companies.

2) If you find content about a well-known person or brand in Wikipedia – you can bet its content has been peer-reviewed for accuracy.

As Google pursues structured knowledge in an effort to be more effective in sharing information, Wikipedia has become an important de-facto source. This is true both for its ability to source so widely and for its army of active editors who police new content in real-time. The fact that Freebase, Google’s community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things, relies heavily on content from Wikipedia indicates its primary relevance.

Wikipedia is perhaps Google’s most accessible and accurate measure of whether a person or company is important to people. Wikipedia calls this ‘notability‘. Notability is the standard with which Wikipedia determines whether or not an entity ‘deserves’ its own Wikipedia article. Google relies on Wikipedia’s standard to ascertain which brands are worthy of a knowledge graph rather than simply looking at volume of searches.

Apart from a Wikipedia article, other branding signals include:

–       Forbes profiles

–       Inclusion on lists of distinguished companies or individuals appearing in distinguished publications

–       Existence of active social media profiles that match the name of the brand or individual

If you are concerned with online branding for a company or individual here are some suggestions:

If the brand doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, engage the Wiki community to create one.

  • Realize that Wiki content has to be factual (sourced), relevant, and non-promotional.
  • Make it easier for Wiki editors by collecting and providing sourced background information about the brand.
  • Look at similar brands in Wikipedia to get ideas about the type of content that should be in the Wikipedia profile.

If the brand has a Wikipedia page:

  • Monitor the page for any changes.
  • If you see inaccuracies, use the Talk page to bring the issue to the attention of Wiki editors.
  • Keep an eye on traffic to the Wikipedia page – Spikes in article views are an indication of increased interest in the brand, which your communications and marketing employees will want to be aware of.
  • Make sure that new relevant content is being included in the Wikipedia page – Use the Talk page to point out to Wiki editors content that should be included.

With the central and increasing role that Wikipedia plays in the treatment of brands by search engines, make sure that your brand is properly covered there. If you are not satisfied, take action and strengthen your brand.

Which SEO’s Does Google Search Suggest Love Best? And Why?

Searching for Jill Whalen’s recent article about Rel=Author, I typed her name into Google and discovered that Google likes her! They really like her! They even have her photo in the Search Suggest box.

Of course, now I wanted to know whether Jill and Google were going steady … was she Google’s special someone? Or was Google playing the field, keeping their options open? Was Google (gasp!) seeing other people?

You already know the answer.

Yep, they’re fickle. I searched for some other SEOs, people I’d seen at SMX Israel just a couple of days ago; lo and behold, Google’s giving them special treatment too. Sorry Jill, just like we always knew … you can’t trust Google to stay faithful.

I’m not the first to notice pictures showing up in the Google Suggest box  … Danny Sullivan wrote about Britney Spear’s results last week.

However, now I’m curious why some well-known people in search marketing get their picture as a Search Suggest and some don’t.

Barry Schwartz does.

barry schwartz

But Olivier Amar doesn’t.

Olivier Amar

Charlie Kalech does.

Charlie Kalech

But Branko Rihtman doesn’t.

Branko Rihtman

Sam Michelson does.

Sam Michelson

Miriam Schwab doesn’t.

Miriam Schwab

Dixon Jones does.

Dixon Jones

Marty Weintraub doesn’t.

Marty Weintraub

Michael King does (but Google thinks he’s someone else, so he doesn’t).

Michael King

My first thought was that you only get a picture if you have a Google+ page. But Miriam Schwab has a page, and so do Marty Weintraub and Branko Rihtman … yet Google’s showing them no love in the Search Suggest box. Any idea why that is?

How about you? Are you basking in Google-love when you type your name in the box?

Oh, me? Funny you should ask.

I’m not.

Andy Levy-Stevenson