Welcome back Rankers! Recording from home today as it’s a public holiday here in Australia. Happy birthday to our Queen. One of several birthdays she gets every year I believe. Funny how we get a day off but the Poms don’t. Anyway. The big news in search over the weekend has been good old Hillary Clinton.
There was an article released by SourceFed that said that they thought Google was manipulating search results. The question posed was, ‘Did Google Manipulate Search for Hillary?’ They had a lengthy video that accompanied their explanation, which compared Yahoo! with Google and I’ll run through a few of the points raised.
There was a great follow-up article published by Rhea Drysdale that came out and slapped SourceFed down. Since then there’s been one from Bill Slawski, who is a big-brained SEO guy, and Google themselves have even surfaced to deny any wrongdoing.
However, there is a problem.
Firstly, I’ll show you what SourceFed was talking about. If you go into Google.com and type in ‘hillary clinton cri’ you will see the autocomplete suggestions of ‘hillary clinton crime reform,’ ‘hillary clinton crisis,’ and ‘hillary clinton crime bill 1994.’ Then if you jump over to Yahoo! and do the same thing, you will see different suggestions. Number one is, ‘hillary clinton criminal investigation,’ followed by, ‘criminal,’ ‘crimes,’ and ‘criminal history.’ Therefore, the accusation is that Google is manipulating search results as Yahoo! shows this in the instant search suggestions and Google doesn’t.
The problem with that scenario is you are kind of comparing apples with oranges, as they work in different ways. With this particular Google feature, which you can use for local keyword research as well, it tends to change based on what’s trending at the time. So you can go into Google trends, which Rhea Drysdale has done, and see trends and the like.
With these search suggestions, Google is trying to work out what you’re looking for before you actually type it. That’s what they are about. They’re based on people in your area, at this time of day or year, and what they would typically type in. Therefore, here are a few suggestions for you.
Then I went international. I tested the results in New York, L.A., and Melbourne. In the .com, you can see we get the same results,
‘credentials,’ ‘crowd,’ ‘creating jobs,’ etc. I used a VPN to do this in the .com and you can see I’m getting the same results regardless of where I am. There’s no mention of Hillary Clinton committing any crimes. (Except marrying Bill.)
When I move to the .co.uk you can see I get suggestions such as ‘criminal prosecution,’ ‘crime bill 1994,’ etc. Now when I see this in the .co.uk my understanding of these search suggestions is that it’s based on volume. So basically, what it’s saying is that more people in the UK are looking for ‘hillary clinton criminal prosecution,’ whereas they’re not in the U.S. That is odd and I’m not convinced that would be the case.
Now just to be clear, I’m not saying that Google is manipulating search results to favour Hillary Clinton, SourceFed is. If I go to Google.com.au and type in, ‘hillary clinton cr,’ we get suggestions for ‘criminal prosecution,’ and ‘criminal video,’ without even getting as far as typing in ‘cri.’ We still see a suggestion for, ‘crime bill 1994,’ not sure why, maybe it’s back in the news again. So one possibility is this. Are there lots of Americans coming to the .com.au to conduct searches instead of using .com?
Something is odd. Maybe it’s just another theory in a world of theories. Maybe it’s just the wonder of living in a democracy. I guess we’ll find out if there’s any meat to the theory after Tuesday November 8. The explanations I’ve heard from Google and from people in the industry, many of which I respect, haven’t directly addressed the issues yet. I am very interested to know why there would be a higher volume in Australia of people looking for ‘hillary clinton criminal video.’ Probably there’s an explanation out there. I’ll keep you posted.
That’s it for this week’s show. If you have any ideas or theories, or if you’ve had a play with it and consider yourself a search suggestions guru, I’d love to hear your feedback. Or any feedback. But I do find it odd. See you next week. Bye.
Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.