Fake vs genuine

As a small business you know the importance of proper search engine optimisation (SEO). You’re probably hard at work every day trying to ensure that Google picks up the correct information about your business so that when people search for you, they’re shown only correct information.

But what happens if one day you discover that Google has picked up a spoof of your logo and is showing it in its search results replacing your real logo? What can you do about it and, most importantly, how can you prevent this from happening?

It’s happened to Greggs

Earlier this week, Greggs Bakery took a hit when its logo was hijacked via Google’s knowledge graph. When users searched for “Greggs” on Google UK, they saw a knowledge graph box that included what appeared to be the brand’s logo but with a fake slogan featuring a swear word and a derogatory comment about its customers.

Google search Greggs fake logo

Source: searchengineland.com

The fake logo was sourced from the satirical site Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia, and it was deleted quickly after Greggs asked Google via Twitter to fix the error. Here is the fun tweets exchange between Greggs and Google UK:

Not an isolated problem

In March this year, the same thing happened to PC World when its logo was replaced with a spoof logo:

Google search PC World fake logo

Now, while Google quickly removed the fake logos for Greggs and PC World, there’s a bigger issue: why is Google’s knowledge graph pulling incorrect information? While everyone is struggling to get on page one of Google’s search results, when something like a fake, unflattering logo shows up, that can reflect poorly on a brand and can damage its hard-earned reputation. And while Greggs noticed the glitch early on and Google managed to fix it quickly, what is the long-term damage for small businesses that might not notice it that quickly or get it fixed before it goes viral?

To prevent this from happening to you, let’s first try to understand why it happened to Greggs.

Why it happened to Greggs

The fake Greggs image came from Uncyclopedia, a satirical version of Wikipedia. However, the images and site are hosted with Wikia, a free hosting service which hosts images and content for wikis (user-driven sites). This means that it hosts content for all wiki sites, whether satirical or legitimate.

So here’s why Google may have assumed the fake logo was Gregg’s real logo:

The Uncyclopedia website has a Domain Authority of 88/100 – that’s very good and just to give you a sense of how good that is, their authority is almost as good as Spotify’s which is 90/100. This means that Google had all the reasons to consider the Uncyclopedia page trustworthy.

Also, the images used on Uncyclopedia, Greggs and Wikipedia were optimised differently, as follows:

Uncyclopedia image name alt tag winner

As you can see in the above table, Uncyclopedia used simple and clear descriptions for the image file name and ALT tag while Greggs mentioned using a smaller image. Not even Wikipedia did a better job at optimising their version of Greggs’ logo as they named the image file and ALT tag Greggs2014 which does not describe what the image is about.

So, even though Google usually uses the image from the brand’s website or the brand’s Wikipedia page, it found Uncyclopedia, a wiki itself, relevant and descriptive enough to get the logo from.

How to protect your logo

So, if you want to protect your brand’s logo and prevent fake logos from replacing your real one in Google’s knowledge graph, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Upload your logo image with a descriptive filename such as {brandname}-logo.png.
  2. Add an ALT tag* that says “{brandname} logo”.

*The ALT tag is a text alternative for an image on your page. Search engines read and index the value in this attribute but not the ones in the title attribute, which is why the ALT is so important.

  1. Add your slogan as the title attribute for the image (For example, Greggs could have added “Greggs the bakers” as the title and “Greggs logo” as the ALT tag).
  2. Use Logo markup as recommended by Google:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Organization”>

<a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.example.com/”>Home</a>

<img itemprop=”logo” src=”http://www.example.com/brand-logo.png” alt=”Brand logo” />

</div>

By adding this markup, you’re telling Google that that’s your organisation’s logo image and the one it should be using in its search results.

  1. Use rel=”publisher” to avoid any other content from being attributed to other websites. Learn how to implement the rel=”publisher” Google authorship markup.
  2. Other things you can markup on your site to let search engines know that it’s your intellectual property such as postal address, email address, fax number, event organiser, founders and more.

Greggs’ logo incident goes to show just how important it is to be vigilant when it comes to your brand’s online reputation as well as to follow the best SEO practices in order to prevent rather than to fix.

Other useful resources

What is AuthorRank and how to implement rel=”author”

Boost organic traffic with Google listings even if you’re not ranking #1

Your turn now

Do you have any other tips on how small businesses can protect their logos and online reputation? We’d love to read them below.

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