As of today, many of us noticed an unusual activity on Twitter, which highlighted the misrepresentation of the Greggs‘ brand image by Google Search.
The story: when you searched for the word “greggs” on Google Search, you will be presented with a list of results. (screenshot below).
Funny (not for the brand) enough, on the right side of the search results, where Google shows it’s understanding of the user’s query by returning relevant information using it’s Knowledge Graph engine, a misrepresented image was showing instead of the the actual brand logo.
Someone presumably not happy with the brand/company or whatever the reason, spotted a way on how to harm it’s online reputation, by uploading a modified version to this website. As you can see from its history, there’s a fight going on between the defacer and Greggs’ employees.
A fight that in my opinion, shouldn’t have even started.
But why is Google Knowledge Graph picking the wrong image? Well, to start with, better read this post on SearchEnginePeople, to have a better idea on how it works. Basically, Google uses other free (reliable) sources of information on the web in order to put together the result, with a mix of data taken also from Youtube for videos, rich snippets for additional and more accurate data, Google Places for business contact details and so on.
Now, we understand that Google in primis should pick the image/info from the brand’s Google+ page here, which looks alright at first, right?
It’s not only ignoring the official page, but what’s disturbing is the fact that is using as a “trusted” resource a completely not reliable website, such as the widely known as Uncyclopedia, which has the mission to “… provide the world’s misinformation in the least redeeming and most searingly sarcastic and humorous way possible. Offense is exceptionally likely, expected, and to be renowned while reading the Uncyclopedia.“
Now this is quite scary, for anyone who finds out that a brand/person or else, doesn’t have an official Google+ page (properly linked to their website), and armed with the worse intentions, can actually have quite a good chance into fooling Google’s “intelligence”. Which is clearly not yet that sophisticated.
So, what to do then?
– Well, first off, you have to have a Google+ page, there’s nothing you can do about it if you want to avoid such a mess, and properly link it to your website.
– Check all free sources of information for relevant data about you/your brand and where possible, amend it (this is not the best choice however, other people can easily override your changes, but it’s a quick way to buy time).
– Not many know about this, but you can actually report those results and ask Google to remove them if found obtrusive and/or misleading.
If you find yourself in such a situation, you should take a proactive approach and solve it asap, for you never know what else Google can say about you/your brand. Oh, and there’s another example here (thanks Martin), in case you might think it’s just an isolated case.
Update: Google UK fixed it really quickly, you can find all the buzz here.