What exactly is Bill Hartzer disease, and how do you get it? Is it a real disease? That’s a good question, I’ve been asking myself this for well over 5 years now. Maybe longer than that. Several years ago, when I started searching for my own name, this keyword phrase (my name with the word ‘disease’ attached to it) showed up in the auto suggest. Auto Suggest is when you start typing in a search query and the search engine suggests other related keywords, or words that include the characters you are typing.
An example of auto suggest for my name, Bill Hartzer, is an example:
Bill Hartzer podcast
Bill Hartzer disease
Bill Hartzer SEO
Bill Hartzer Twitter
When you type “Bill Hartzer”, Google, for example, suggests other words that other people have, in the past, searched for. This is generally helpful. Except when that keyword phrase suggested includes another keyword that is not desirable.
There are ways to deal with these keywords in auto suggest. And, some SEOs in the past have actually used this as a traffic technique. For example, they will manipulate the auto suggest keywords so that when people start searching for a product you sell, for example, your company’s brand name is attached to the end of that keyword. An example of this would be this keyword:
AC repair Dallas
AC repair Dallas A Number 1 Air
In this random example above, they keyword phrase would be “AC repair Dallas” and when someone types in AC repair Dallas into the search engine’s search box, “A Number 1 Air” would be a keyword that is suggested. A Number 1 Air is the name of an AC repair business in Dallas. If that business (they are not a client of mine) shows up, then there is a branding effect that occurs since they’re showing up. Someone searching might just click on the suggested keyword then click on the first one “AC repair Dallas”. And even if they do click on “AC repair Dallas” in the search box, then they’ve already seen the company name. If that company shows up in the search engine results for “AC repair Dallas”, then there’s a better chance that the searcher would click on their listing–since they’ve already seen the brand name in the search results.
As I mentioned, there are (black hat and gray hat) SEOs that will use that as a tactic: they will try to manipulate the auto suggest results so that a company’s brand name shows up. Usually they just perform a lot of searches for the keyword using proxies and other methods to ‘fake’ their location or hide their identity. Then, after a few months (or sooner), the company name or brand name is suggested by the search engine.
In the case of “Bill Hartzer disease”, though, I’ve investigated this before. I haven’t really figured out exactly why there is a disease named after me. At least in the eyes of Google. But, a friend mentioned to me a while back: this could be the result of a typo, and that there is a disease with another name. And some people are mistyping the name of the disease and typing my name instead. That’s most likely the reason for this keyword phrase to show up in the search engines’ auto suggest.
But, if there really is a disease, what would be the symptoms? I could certainly come up with a list clever ones, like thinking about search engine traffic, working online too much, being a creative marketer, or always worried about getting better rankings for client websites and your own websites. Eventually, as I continue to promote my name, my blog, my podcast, and what I do for a living, those keywords will end up showing up higher in the auto suggest as other keywords, maybe even pushing the disease one down a bit more.
What I’ve chosen to do, for this particular keyword phrase, is to write this post. Rather than trying to manipulate the auto suggest feature, which I will NOT do, I’m embracing the fact that there is a keyword out there that I am not fond of. So, ideally this post will always rank (or be there somewhere in the search engine results) for that keyword phrase. And, if someone does search for it, they’ll end up on this post. And any mentions of this post, such as social media posts, might get indexed as well. that way I’m in better control of the search engine results listings for that keyword phrase.
I’m curious: what does the auto suggest say for your personal name? Tell me on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bhartzer.