Elephants never forget. Neither does Google

Negative headlines have the potential to stick to the first page of search results for months, even years after the event, so your crisis isn't over until Google says it is.

Your crisis isn't over until Google says it is, warns Alex Judd
Your crisis isn't over until Google says it is, warns Alex Judd

Imagine the situation: It's Friday afternoon and you've finally got a handle on your brand's crisis.

The media swirl has stopped, social media’s calm, everyone’s happy. It’ll be forgotten in a couple of months; time to hit the pub.

Read next: "Never tell a journalist it's not a story" – Daily Mirror editor offers crisis comms tips

But as you’re taking a sip of your first pint, celebrating your hard work, I’ve got some bad news: You couldn’t be more wrong.

See, Google is just like an elephant: it never forgets. When using the search engine, it trawls through every piece of content on the web to serve up the most relevant and useful information to a query.

And, whether you like it or not, people are searching specifically for your brand every single day.

If someone’s interested enough to search for your brand, they’re far more likely to convert (whether that’s buying your product or service).

Or they could be potential employees or journalists researching a story. It's also been proven that people trust Google's search results more than any other source of information, on or offline.

So, as masters of reputation, these are the searches you should be concerned about.

People rarely make it past the first page of search results and practically no-one makes it past the second page; meaning you have a very narrow area to present a positive, controlled message within the search results for your brand.

The chances are that the crisis you’ve been dealing with was covered by high-profile media and had a ton of engagement – which Google loves. That means those headlines have the potential to stick to the first page of your search results for months, even years after the event.

So those people searching for your brand – potential customers, employees, investors or whoever – will be constantly reminded of that issue, which will naturally impact your reputation and, ultimately, your bottom line.

There are countless brands out there which have this issue, a prime example being Tesco Bank.

Go ahead and Google them and you’ll be given a stark reminder of when thousands of their customers had their accounts hacked.

With more than 450,000 people searching for their brand each month, that's a lot of people being reminded.

However, this can be countered. By connecting your digital assets and sending the right signals to Google, you can better influence your search results and take control of your own narrative.

That requires specialists across the marketing spectrum working together to create a resilient brand presence.

It's time to ditch the "integration" rhetoric and start delivering on it, because your crisis isn’t over until Google says so.

Alex Judd is GCore business director at Grayling

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