The wrong name in Google: My guide

I sometimes get requests from clients to change the name of your company on the search results page . Of course, it’s tricky when you’ve migrated (a new CMS or design, for example) and you have a new company name, but the old name still shows up in Google search results. In this guide, I explain (to the extent possible) how to influence this and where to look.

The problem

I use RalfvanVeen.com as an example in this case. The name of my company is displayed correctly in this case (as I want it – just the name of the website Ralf van Veen). See screenshot below.

Having the wrong company name here can result in a negative impact on your company’s branding and confusion for potential searchers in Google. Especially for companies with strong branding in the market, this can have a negative impact on the number of clicks they get from Google, not a good thing.

But where do I look when I embark on such a study? The problem everywhere is in the website, which is why I usually want to go through the entire site to get to the core.

The wrong name in Google in a nutshell

No time for a long article? No problem. Watch the video below for a summary of this article.

The wrong name in Google (video).

My checklist to go through

The wrong or old company name can appear in different places on the Internet and within your website, which can lead to inconsistencies in how search engines such as Google identify your company. Here is a brief overview of where these names may be located and how they may affect your online presence:

  1. Used anchor texts external link building: External websites that link to your site using specific anchor texts can influence Google’s perception of your site. If these anchor texts contain outdated company names, this can lead to confusion. You can’t always control this, but you can try to get as many links/anchor texts customized as possible.
  2. Structured data (often Organization): Structured data on your site, especially when it comes to “Organization” schema markup, helps search engines understand what information is representative of your business. Incorrect names in this data may display the wrong name in search results.
  3. Page titles or website meta descriptions: Titles and meta descriptions are crucial SEO elements that search engines use to understand the content of Web pages. If they contain old or incorrect company names, it can affect search results. I often see some stray page titles still have the old company name on them, especially after a migration this is very common.
  4. Website terms & conditions & website privacy statement: These documents often include the full company name and details. If not updated, they may contain outdated information that can be indexed by search engines.
  5. Name is in website logo: Search engines are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to “read” images. An old logo with an outdated company name can add to the confusion. So this is really about image logo that includes (part of) the company’s name. Google can read this well.
  6. Old social media accounts (with the old company name): Social media profiles are often ranked high in search results. If these accounts are not updated, they can spread misinformation.
  7. Review platform with the old name: Review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor can rank high in search results. Old names on these platforms can provide incorrect data to search engines. Here I have seen several things go wrong:
    • Employees still using the old name in responses to reviews (you have a lot of influence on this).
    • Customers still using the old name in reviews (you have less control over this).
  8. In the site’s CSS (companies sometimes use CSS tags for descriptions): Although less common, some sites may inject textual content via CSS, which can lead to inconsistencies if not updated.
  9. Name of Google My Company: One of the most direct sources of company information for Google. If this entry contains an old name, chances are it will be misrepresented in search results and on maps. This is a quick fix that you can deploy.
  10. The old name is used on the about us page or home page: These pages are often the most visited parts of a Web site and provide essential information about a company. Outdated information here can directly affect how Google indexes your site. Google likes to use this information to discover more about the company, especially if this information is also in the Organization structured data.
  11. Branded searches with the old company name in them: Here you have a little less influence as a company, but the number of times branded searches with the old company name result in a click to your website also weigh into this.

To correct these problems, it is important to conduct a thorough audit of your online presence, including your website, social media, review sites, and external links, to ensure that all mentions of your company name are current and consistent.

Are there risks associated with this?

It is also always a question of how far you want to go in optimizing this problem. A big risk (which I fortunately have not yet seen occur), is that your website is no longer ranked #1 with sitelinks for the branded search of your old company name.

For this reason, I do recommend that you still create a page stating that you have migrated to a particular new URL. This way you minimize the risk of losing your branded search.

In doing so, also check first how likely you are to lose your branded position in Google. Are there competitors who also operate with a similar company name (this is more common with exact match domains in B2C markets).

Conclusion

Know that in conducting such an investigation that the problem really could be anywhere. Even with things I didn’t name in my checklist. In doing so, it is important to properly appreciate the risks of solving this problem. Good luck!

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.