An Audi R8 image PR nightmare in Google

August 4, 2008

This is a classic example of things going wrong for a brand. I just watched a Top Gear clip of the Audi R8 which inspired me to do a quick search in Google for “r8″…

Oh dear… it’s an SEO (Search engine optimisation) branding nightmare – the first image that jumps up is a burnt out Audi R8. Given that around 97% of car purchases now involve some online research, this is not what you want people to see straight up.

Audi_R8_Search

R8_Audi_image
The unfortunate Audi R8 image that would send shivers down the Audi marketing team’s spines…
 
So what do you do when Image Search Results go bad?
Here’s some small tips for a healthy life in the chaotic land of Search / SEO:
1. Listen | Observe – this means keeping an eye on what’s coming up in your search results. If you don’t know about it, you can’t fix it.
2. Play a role in the community especially the blogosphere – make sure high ranking sites carry correctly named/tagged images that will index in search. Know the bloggers that influence your results.
3. Optimise your own site as much as possible for images, meta data and other techniques. There are many companies (including ours, plug plug) that can help with this.
4. SEM – Make sure your search engine marketing is in place (in the instance above I did not receive any SEM ads whatsoever.
5. Run a Digital PR campaign. There are various creative techniques which could encourage a large amount of people to get involved with images that are positive for your brand.
6. Provide assets to the masses. Allow users to take your images (the ones you want seen) and distribute freely.
7. Use the social networks. Nothing stopping brands playing a role in the community in an open transparent manner.
8. Create an official Blog. A properly maintained, healthy blog by a brand can do wonders in search. Bear in  mind a blog needs to work (have great content, audience participation and avoid the corporate BS).
9. Talk to Google. Whilst they’re not going to change their indexing algorithms they are a helpful and good natured company and may be able to offer advice.
10. Talk to the site which houses the bad image/content. They may be quite happy to run another more positive story to help, without compromising or asking them to delete their original content. (Avoid censorship – that would be a big no-no).

Unfortunately bad news is big news. If a big ranking site pushes something you don’t like in Search, the only surefire method is to outgun that site in the digital space …and this is a time consuming game.

The lowdown for brands to prevent a search disaster:
Make sure you have a digital strategy, an SEO / SEM strategy, the assets to make it work, a team that is watching …and get it in place as early as possible.