So the internet got mildly excited because the Greggs logo went a bit awry - It’s sorted now but was it malicious, and how can you protect yourself and your business from it?
This is not the logo you are looking for
While the alternate Greggs logo was obviously a not pro the company, it wasn’t purposely injected or redirected in anyway, Google just picked it as the logo and started displaying it. The logo was selected by Google based on its search algorithms; it’s what Google thought was the Greggs logo, so how was it so wrong?
Google has a lot of clever tech for reading images, but even they struggle to know what every image contains, so while they do have the technology to work out what words might exist in an image, that isn’t how they work it out in all cases.
Google builds a lot of it’s search results based on the words and text surrounding a link or image. The context of a link is what makes the search results so effective. Rather than just following the link Google attempt to calculate the sentiment bending the link looking at over 200 factors, before determining the importance of it all, and it’s no different for logos.
When looking for a company logo, Google appears to be looking for things like the company name, and maybe some common words like logo or brand. In the case of the alternate Greggs logo this might be what happened. Look at the mark-up and text that surrounded the logo on uncyclopedia:
Looking just at that html, wouldn’t you expect the image inside to be the Greggs logo?
But the image Google chose to display wasn’t from the Greggs website, or even Wikipedia, so why did Google pick such an obscure image as the logo? Google not only ranks pages but also domains, domains that like wikia.com that hosts uncyclopaedia also host many a site that Google probably rates quite highly, so content from there is going to have a bit of a boost. Why the logo didn’t come from the Greggs site? well that’s probably to do with the contents of the pages on Greggs site, and Google not being able to find a strong enough hint for the logo.
Looking around the search results for other other brands, you will see that Google will and often does take logos from a company’s website. The factors controlling what makes Google pick the logo from a site will be many, but being able to find some strong hints will be one.
As we’ve already noted If your site has your logo on it, then calling it your logo, and giving it your company name will help, but you can go further.
One thing you can do is help Google with it’s struggle by marking up your webpages using rich snippets. There are many rich snippets you can use, for all sorts of things from addresses to events - but you can also mark up your business and importantly in this case your logo:
Marking up your site with rich snippets will make it much easier for Google to find things like your logo, and protect you from misidentification. It’s quite easy to mark up your pages, and you can see how Google is interpreting any rich snippets from within Google Webmaster tools.
Another way to own search results, is with social networking links - I say social networking but the reality is if you get yourself a Good Google+ page then you also increase the chances of that appearing in your search results, and Google will take the logo from there.
I suppose the reality is - while your making your webpages all singing and all dancing don’t forget one of the most important visits your site will get, will be from the Google search bot, and if it can’t understand the code behind the pictures, you’re going to get all sorts of strange results.