Tell me that Google isn't already starting to think like a public company. Head out to the popular search engine, punch in a ticker symbol, and the first item that comes back is a link for a stock quote along with its financials.

Big deal? Well, maybe not, but what about typing in something a little more common. Go with the word "eat" and what comes out on top? Restaurateur Brinker International (NYSE:EAT). That word was entered as a search term on rival Overture's site nearly 10,000 times last month. Clearly most of those queries were made by folks who were simply hungry. How many of those do you think wound up at Chili's or Macaroni Grill or any of the other Brinker properties -- if not mulling over the stock itself?

If feline fanciers suddenly have a craving for construction equipment, thank Google -- and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT). Incidentally, the word cat (or cats) was punched in 1.8 million times on Overture last month.

But now think of the upcoming holiday-shopping season. Think the word "toy" will get a workout on Google? Toys "R" Us (NYSE:TOY) sure hopes so. The retailer's stock information is first on the results page. Yes, folks, it's 2003 and search-engine optimization has a new name if you're a publicly traded company. It's called ticker-symbol optimization!

Not every company is as fortunate. Type in "fun" and you won't find the amusement park mavens of Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN). Cyber-pervs looking for "hot" won't find Starwood Hotels (NYSE:HOT). Etch-a-Sketch fans will wiggle a frown when they learn that the word "oar" does not produce stock information for Ohio Art (NYSE:OAR). But you can already sense companies pondering ticker symbol changes to keep their equities high on the popular portal.

Will Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) race to the ticker symbol CAR? Which thrift will be the first to lay claim on BANK? Let's just hope this doesn't force our beloved site to go public -- just so it could claim prime Google real estate for the term FOOL.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of Cedar Fair, and -- unlike Starwood Hotels -- does show up on Google when the search term is "hot." To view Rick's other holdings, view his profile.