So I've done a bit of reputation management in the past (i.e. pushed bad results off the first few pages), but now I was asked about what can be done about negative search suggestions (when someone types in business name and Google suggest "[business name] complaints" or something similar).
I know I've heard/read people discuss this before but can't find anything on it now...
How does search suggestions work in Google? Does anyone have any experience with trying to influence the suggestions?
As far as I know, the Google Suggestions are based on commonly made query revisions. In other words, they come "from the universe of all searchers" and there's little - maybe nothing - we can do about it.
I've got one such situation and what I'm trying to do for the client is rank well on the suggested query - at least getting the client's point of view and messaging seen. I've got three results on the bottom of page 1 now, and of course I'm working to improve on that.
I had a week of hope in early October when the identical "related searches" entry vanished from the bottom of the SERP - but it came back, and the Google Suggestion never went away.
I experienced this recently while searching for a relatively obscure silversmith by name. I spelled the surname incorrectly on a number of searches...then I called someone to ask how to spell the guys name...I was one letter out...but Google’s suggestion kept popping the incorrect name up as a suggestion. So that certainly got me thinking how easy it might be for a blackhat to repeatedly use a term to discredit a competitor, eg [business name] complaints, [business name] non delivery, [business name] theft, [business name] plagiarism etc. I cleared my cache a number of times, but a week later google was still "suggesting" the silversmith's name the way I had incorrectly spelt it.
So I guess the whitehat way is to push it down, and the blackhat way would be to artificially inflate the number of searches for other terms? The company name doesn't get a lot of searches, so I'm guessing beating out "[business name] complaints" in # of searches shouldn't be an insurmountable task with some clever tricks. By comparison trying to take over the first page for "[business name] complaints" would be a nightmare...not to mention there's also "[business name] scam" to deal with :P
Luckily so far the related searches at the bottom are all neutral.