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|Ranking well for a stock ticker|
symbol can be a challenge.
Many public companies wonder why Google doesn't rank them higher in search results for their stock ticker symbol.
While some public firms lament this mistreatment by Google, other companies listed on NYSE, NASDAQ and other public exchanges don't have an issue.
If I search for ACN in Google, for example, I immediately see the Accenture stock info provided by Google Finance at the top of Google Search Results. Similarly, if I search for AAN, I see Google Finance's stock data for Aaron's, as depicted below (scroll down a few paragraphs). This is the happy scenario experienced by many listed public companies…but not by everybody.
For example, when I search for AQ in Google, I hope to see the latest stock information for the Chicago-based public company Acquity Group. They are a fast-growth firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. When I search Google for AQ, I want to quickly and easily be able to see how the stock is doing.
Instead, with great frustration, I see three Google search results about a video game that happens to have the initials AQ and has the domain AQ.com; one Google search result for a San Francisco sushi restaurant; one for a design company in Japan; and a Wikipedia page for AQ. A relevant result for what I am looking for doesn't appear until I get to #23 in the search results!
Since I don't play video games and don't live in San Francisco or Japan, it's a bit annoying that Google can't give me better search results. Surely, they know I'm searching Google from Chicago and I often lookup stocks, so odds are I'm looking for information on local firm Acquity Group when I type in AQ.
So what's going on? Is Google playing favorites? Are they showing Google Finance info only for stocks they like? Are they showing Google Finance info only for stocks that have been publicly listed for some time period? Are they showing Google Finance info only for stocks that are above a certain market cap threshold?
EXAMPLE SEARCH: Ideally, when a searcher is looking for stock information, a Google search for a stock ticker symbol would show detailed information about the stock, as is the case when I searched for NYSE stock ticker AAN (Aaraon's Inc.).
If you are in charge of investor relations for a public company that isn't getting the respect it is due from Google, these questions are top of mind. And, even as an outsider, you might be wondering: Why doesn't Google handle every public company the same way? If I type in a public company stock ticker symbol, shouldn't Google always show me all of the excellent information that I see in the Google Finance search result panel?
It's not that simple, Google would say. The results you see when you search Google are based on complex algorithms that are trying to figure out what you are looking for and give you the best possible results. Moreover, Google has personalized search results in recent years; the results I see are different from the results you see. And, finally, this issue touches upon Universal Search, a reference to Google's giving you all sorts of things in your search results, including not just links to relevant web sites but also videos, images, Google Finance snapshots, etc.
So, yes, it is complex -- but still the search results are not working well for Google users.
Google agrees with me. To get more clarity on this topic, I reached out to a contact at Google, a product manager in Google Finance, with my Acquity Group example, and she nicely responded as follows:
We're always working on improving our search algorithms, and you point out an interesting case. Deciding when to show a stock chart is more complex than just whether the query matches a ticker symbol - for example, most people searching for "cow" are not interested in the NYSE Arca COW ETF. However, it does seem that in this case we could be doing a bit better.
So, they are aware that this is an issue and would like to fix it, but the Google algorithm changes may take a while to get it right and Google engineers have a host of other issues to work on, no doubt.
What You Can Do to Get Your Stock Ticker to Rank Better in Google
There are many things that can be done to try to fix this issue.
But, first, don't feel too bad about not having your stock ticker yield ideal search results. In my testing, even IBM doesn't get the coveted Google Finance stock price information showing in Google's search results. That's because Google recognizes that when you search for "IBM" you are not necessarily searching for IBM's stock info. You might be looking for other information about IBM.
So, thus far we've learned that if you want a search on your ticker symbol to give your stock information, it helps if your ticker is not the same as your company name (e.g. IBM) or identical to another English word (e.g. COW).
But if your ticker is obscure and you are wondering why Google doesn't show the Google Finance stock quote information for your ticker, or doesn't even show other relevant stock listing information sites, here are some things you can do:
This is just the start. There are about a half dozen other things we advise clients to do in this situation.
While it's frustrating when Google's algorithms fail you -- and by this I mean an objective fail that even Google engineers and product managers would agree with -- it's reassuring to remember that it's the long tail that matters. People search for your stock information in many ways other than just entering in your stock ticker symbol. So, for example, in the case of my test case company, all of these search phrases yield the proper result of showing the stock price information in Google's results: AQ stock, AQ stock ticker, NYSE AQ, AQ stock price, what is Acquity Group's stock symbol?, and stocks:AQ. While a Google user may be frustrated by their initial search for a stock ticker symbol, they are likely to get what they are looking for after refining their search.
You should also rest easy knowing that Google constantly changes its algorithms. If it's broken today, they may fix it tomorrow (or in a few months). Unfortunately the opposite is also true with Google: if it works fine today, they may break it tomorrow. Such are the vagaries of life in our search-dominated world.