As B2B and B2C companies and organizations tend to rely on their websites to shape their public images or tell their stories, a new report revealed the first ten search results on Google or other search engines present the most immediate and lasting impression.
A recent poll conducted by marketing firm Lumentus, which included 800 adults who earn $100,000 or more per year, found fewer than 5% rely on an organization's website alone and 90% use Google when initiating research on a company.
Although corporate websites are trusted by nearly 77% of respondents, it is the online news articles that carry greater credibility, with more than 83% trusting the content more.
"Companies and organizations that focus solely on their own websites put themselves at risk," said Laurence Moskowitz, chief executive of Lumentus. "Company websites are what executives assume digitally represent their organizations, but search results elsewhere on the web can negate good will, damage a reputation and, ultimately, lead to a loss of revenue. Google is now your front door – not your own website."
Further, with 70% of respondents saying that they consider online search results to be a big part of the decision-making process, there is no question that an organization’s digital footprint can actively impact business growth or public perception.
Additionally, 75% of those surveyed said they have actually rejected doing business with companies as a result of negative entries, while 75% say they will search further if they find negative information about a company they are researching. Nearly 90% of respondents said they will search further if they find positive information about a company they are researching.
"The importance of understanding the full potential and power of search results and taking an active role in managing them is critical to creating a strong image to all stakeholders, current and prospective. First impressions last," said Lumentus senior partner Christina Bertinelli, who leads the firm's Digital Reputation Management practice.