Your brand search and federal politics

by Jim May 8, 2019

I’ve been hearing from folks in all industries that traffic has been down across the board lately with no rational explanation for the weird fluctuations. One of the main reasons could be the announcement of the federal election. It appears traffic for brand searches and politics have been playing seesaws with one another over the past 30 days. If it happens, don’t panic, just investigate why and see if there are issues you can fix.

What I learned

  • The federal election sales myth may hold some truth
  • Why does politics affect major brands?
  • Election announced: Brand searches increase
  • If you see traffic drops try to work out why
  • Is your direct traffic seasonal?


Hey, welcome back Rankers! How you doing? Sorry there`s a bit of noise in the background. The 3D printer is printing a few brackets for a few things around the studio.

Traffic slump?

How`s your traffic at the moment? A lot of people are saying traffic`s down, down. And we`re saying it reflected in stats as well and you`re thinking, `What could be going on?` It`s across the board. Seems to be organic, seems to be well, just about everything. Impressions are down. Even when you go and have a look at your Google Search Console. And see if you`re seeing any downward trends in searches for your own brand.

So if you go into Search Console and then into the performance area and you filter by query, just your brand, and then look at it over say a period of 90 days so you can see the pattern. And see if you can see anything like this.

So what I`m looking at here is we`re looking at the last 12 months in Australia. And I`ve got the Prime Minister of Australia as the search. I`ve got the Federal Election as the search. And JB Hi-Fi which is a large retail brand in Australia, Harvey Norman same and David Jones same. David Jones is not just a mate, okay?

So, in this search, I can see okay, this is Christmas presumably. Yep, Christmas, Boxing Day Sales, all that sort of thing. Then down here we have a thing going on right now called a federal election. And if your traffic is down, then blame the politicians.

I used to think it was a bit of a myth when retailers used to say to me, and I`ve been working with retailers since the … I was a retailer. In the late 80s, right? So I`ve spoken to a lot of retailers in that time. And there was always this thing, a federal election, sales are going to be down, everything`s down. Building is down. Everything is down. And I thought, `Yeah, but I don`t know. Surely that`s a bit of a cop out. Surely we can find the traffic.` But when you go and have a look at graphs like this, and what we`re looking at specifically here, we`ll zoom in on this in a sec a little bit more, if you can see, your federal election is announced here. And then for some reason, and this is the bit that I don`t understand because I don`t follow politics at all, it kind of makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth when I think about it actually, if I`m honest.

Why is your traffic down?

But when I have a look at this and I see it`s, we`ve got the federal election call and then I`ve got this uptick in retailers and searches for their brand. So if this is happening to you, you might be noticing some odd patterns. Because then on the week of the 21st or the 27th of April, somebody else can tell me who follows politics, what happened then? I don`t know, honestly. And I haven`t investigated. We`ve seen interest in the federal election go up. This is that red line.

And we`ve seen searches for the major brands go down. So when we go and have a look at this a little bit more granularly, let`s have a look. We`ll go 90 days. Now, here`s the federal election called. Here. And you can see here we`ve got these lovely patterns of brand searches which seem fairly consistent, right? And then we`ve got a little bit of buzz about the Prime Minister maybe calling a federal election around here. And then from that period when he does that, we start to see these odd patterns.

And here`s this little uptick. Election gets announced. Searches for brands go up. And then as soon as we see the searches for the federal election go up, all of the brands start crashing. I don`t know why. It`s like something happened where everyone went, `There`s a federal election?` Because we don`t care about it as much as a lot of people might think.

But if we go and have a look at, say, even the last 30 days, it`s just really odd. See, there it is there. Searches or interest in… the loss in your retail sales is proportional to the interest in our federal election. Okay? That`s the only conclusion that I`ve got. I`ve got no idea what else happened. But I just thought that`s interesting.

But I have seen a lot of clients when you see some drops, you go and look at certain… and this is something you should go and do yourself, so try to work out, did I do something wrong with the site? Are my rankings down? What`s happening? Why am I getting less traffic from Google all of a sudden, or whatever source it might be? You might think it`s just Google. You might see sales are down.

Go and check all your paid, your direct traffic even because that`s a good indication. If your direct traffic is down seasonally, that can be something to look at as well. And they can often be indicators that people are actually just not buying at the moment. This is especially true if your brand starts to drop. I would suspect right now sales are down for those major retailers. So if you`re in the same boat, don`t start pulling your hair out because you`ll look like me. And we`ll see you next week. See you at Retail Global! Check out Thanks very much everyone! Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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