Google is the most popular search engine in the world, partially because it institutes techniques such as "autocomplete." Any Google user has seen this; if you type in the first few letters of a common term, or even plenty of uncommon ones, you'll get a list of search terms that are the most popular surrounding that term.
Of course, this doesn't thrill everyone. More than a few businesses have complained about having their name and the term "scam" appear on Google Autocomplete. If there's a smear campaign or a controversy surrounding your business, it may start appearing in your company's autocomplete results, making it one of the first things potential clients may see.
Is it possible to affect the results? Is it wise? Both are tricky questions.
The key problem with trying to influence your autocomplete results is that nobody is really sure how they're calculated. Google has kept how it selects autocomplete terms and what terms are ranked more highly than others secret. What we do know is that it's not necessarily the most popular term that gets ranked first, and it's not search volume alone that indicates what's put on top of autocomplete. Beyond that, the process is almost completely opaque.
Furthermore, Google doesn't approve of attempting to influence autocomplete results, and if it catches you trying to manipulate or affect autocomplete results, it will take "corrective action." You may spend a lot of time working on this to absolutely no avail.
Google Autocomplete can be frustratingly opaque and transparent at the same time.
That doesn't mean, however, that you can't work with the results you find on autocomplete and tweak what you find. Look at the results for each autocomplete you search and see what you're dealing with. If the seemingly negative search terms actually turn up nothing but customers defending your business, that's arguably to your benefit. It says a lot about your business if nobody can say anything bad about you!
However, you may find links you don't approve of, but you still have options. For example, let's say you find a few results under the autocomplete result of your business + "scam" that are abusive, hostile, or otherwise problematic. You've got multiple options, ranging from asking Google to remove the links to speaking with the site itself about the terms of service.
Secondly, if there are specific autocomplete results you want to address, keep in mind that you're more than capable of doing so on your own site. For example, there's no reason you can't write up your perspective on a recent controversy or a smear campaign. While this may not be an advisable strategy for all situations, you can certainly tackle specific situations depending on the legal and ethical situation.
View autocomplete not as a problem, but as an opportunity to find out what people are saying about your business. ReputationDefender can help you work with your results, helping you collect positive reviews from customers, and deal with unfair negative press. Don't let anything, especially autocomplete, influence your reputation. Take control with ReputationDefender.