Google's Real Time Brandjacking

January 20, 2017

Okay, so I've been running my share of real time SERP testing recently to get an idea how this may or may not impact SEO. As expected, others in search have been doing much the same with some very funny (yet scary) results. But nothing concerned me more than what I found last night.

I was doing a branded query for WordStream to see what if anything was being integrated into our real time search results and here's what I find:


Google real time search debacle

So the WordStream home page was pushed out of the first position for our branded query in favor of some random RTs from Twitter that are totally unrelated to the WordStream brand. I was pretty ticked when I saw this. The reputation management implications are huge if this is what Google has in store for brands. I mean, it's one thing to integrate real time results into our branded SERPs below the fold, but it's a whole 'nother thing to bump us to #2 and push some stream of garbagey Retweets (and who knows what else) to prominence in position #1.

So what? Do I have to sit and constantly monitor the WordStream real time SERP stream to make sure nothing detrimental is being said about us? Do I need to be extra careful and conscious and scrutinize everything I Retweet? This immediately made me think is that we (WordStream) need to start creating bots to spam and crowd the real time streams with all pro-WordStream chatter. I mean, if Google is going to push real time results to the top of the SERPs for branded queries and push companies into a corner, they're going to be forced to respond in the interest of brand query management.

Now, the good news is, this real time search debacle disappeared entirely this morning and hasn't returned since. Seems Google is doing their share of testing as well, which is encouraging. And I've got to assume this real time search game is some sort of PR novelty anyway. They can't seriously think they'll supplant brands in the SERPs with Twitter garbage and still be considered a relevant and trusted source of information. I mean, there's nothing relevant to the WordStream brand in either of those RTs and the potential for abuse is staggering. In any case, if the real time shit stream does reappear at #1 in the SERPs again, we're going to have to react. Which is unfortunate because reactive brand spamming really isn't going to benefit anybody.

ken lyons

Ken Lyons

Ken Lyons is a cofounder and managing partner of Measured SEM.

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