Google manipulating search results for Hillary Clinton?

As we gear up for the American general election, the lines are as good as drawn. Hillary Clinton is very likely to come out as the Democrat nominee, while Trump is already the presumptive Republican nominee.  It has been a very colorful race so far, what with soft-spoken brain surgeons, awkward handshakes, and the Bern creating waves not just on television, but also online.

Speaking of which, the leading Democrat candidate has had a fair share of scandals, some of which were exposed and spread over the Internet like wildfire. The public learned that Clinton was using personal servers for sensitive communication, an alleged crime that has led some to call for her arrest. In fact, Julian Assange warned that Wikileaks would bring to light enough emails to warrant an indictment.

Despite the mainstream coverage of this issue, the biggest search engine on the planet won’t even show that the words “indictment” and “arrest” are synonymous with Hillary Clinton. In fact, it would try to tell you that not a lot of people are talking about these things.

A video by the YouTube news-slash-commentary channel SourceFed shows that Google displays different search suggestions when it comes to Hillary Clinton. According to SourceFed host Matt Lieberman, if you try to search for Clinton on Google, “negative” words such as “indictment” and “criminal” would be omitted, while on Bing and Yahoo!, they would not be filtered out.

What’s the impact of keyword suggestions, you ask? Imagine this: the world’s most trusted search engine, by fudging the results of your search, would plant this subliminal message that people don’t frequently talk about the issue you wanted to research. It would force you to try a little harder to search for the things you were looking for, and make the issue sound like, well, a non-issue.

Lieberman said, “While researching for a wrap-up on the June 7 Presidential Primaries, we discovered evidence that Google may be manipulating autocomplete recommendations in favor of Hillary Clinton. If true, this would mean that Google Searches aren’t objectively reflecting what the majority of Internet searches are actually looking for… that kind of search result manipulation has the potential to substantially influence the outcome of actual elections.”

The caveat here was that, while those keywords did not show up in the suggestions, their data showed that people were actually making use of those keywords in searches.

In addition Jake Alexander found of internet marketing firm Scarlet SEO said this, “I don’t think Google manipulated these search terms, because the sheer resources it would take to manipulate the algorithm would be enourmous.” Jake can be found at

The episode went so far as to insinuate that Google was in cahoots with the Clinton campaign. Eric Schmidt, head honcho of Alphabet, Inc., under whose umbrella Google operates, is a major benefactor in the Clinton campaign. The SourceFed video explained that Schmidt, “…has a clear and vested interest in how our country is run—and is actively funding one candidate to run it, while the company he advises is warping search results in her favor.”

Google quickly denied this allegation, stating that their search engine filtered out keywords with negative connotations from search results for EVERYONE, not just Clinton. For instance, if you type “Al Capone ma”, you would get words like “mansion”, “married”, and “magazine”, instead of “mafia”.

Mythbusting website corroborates this, using examples such as alleged rapists Brock Turner and Bill Cosby, as well as cult leader Charles Manson. Snopes has declared SourceFed’s accusations false.

CNN explained the difference in suggestions by saying that competing search engines Bing and Yahoo “…interpret search queries far more literally than Google does, which is why they present results that appear to be disparaging to Clinton.” CNN also refuted the online channels claims, stating that the search keywords they used were not only inaccurate, but also cherry-picked.

Furthermore, Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s webspam unit, showed in a recent series of Tweets that you could actually generate suggestions such as “indictment” and “criminal”, but only if you used “Hillary”, instead of including her last name.

The Internet behemoth’s official response goes as such:

“Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how Autocomplete works. Our Autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name. More generally, our autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.”

Meanwhile, SourceFed has yet to address Google’s, as well as the public’s, response to the issue. On their website, they stated that they would provide an update on the issue, “incorporating new information” by this week.

The signs so far point towards the claim being empty. Various entities, such as Buzzfeed, have called SourceFed out on their accusations. It would still be interesting to see how Lieberman and his crew defend their stand, though. You can bet that their gun still is smoking.

Google has also responded to the video via an email statement to the Washington Times:

Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how Autocomplete works. Our Autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name. More generally, our autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.”

Future of SEO

Over the years, the way we have defined Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has drastically changed. From keyword density to link building, the focus is now on creating content with value for consumers. At Only Newz we want to keep you up to date on all the latest information regarding to SEO.  The impact of SEO on small businesses remains the same, though. Numerous studies have shown that SEO yields much higher Returns on Investment (ROI), compared to traditional methods of marketing, such as print, TV, and radio ads. For small businesses to thrive, though, being able to adapt to changes in SEO algorithms and market changes is essential. How can small businesses continue to take advantage of SEO?

Some claim that small businesses should be wary of reliance on SEO. According to Tim Burd, growing awareness of sponsored ads has led to a decline in organic reach. Furthermore, he argued that “…many people just don’t trust Google the way they used to,” compared to Facebook, which has the advantage of social proof.

“Until Google figures out a way to out-appeal Facebook and give people a platform to socialize, to share what they eat, to party and kick back, Google may end up being a tool just for boring factual research, like those old-school hardcover encyclopedias consigned to the back shelf,” he added.

Nevertheless, there is no point in ignoring—or worse, denying—the impact of SEO especially on startups. Brendan Martin,  founder of Gravitii and renowned business influencer, asserts that “…SEO is one of the top tools a local business can use in terms of marketing, and will only become more relevant as time goes on.” Brendan also wrote this great blog post about the top WordPress plugins for SEO. Marketing writer Steve Olenski corroborated this claim, saying, “Based on the way search engines appear to be developing, it is not likely that SEO will cease to be effective any time in the foreseeable future.”

American businesses seem to agree. A report by Borell Associates shows that, since 2008, search engine optimization spending has increased annually by an approximately $5 billion dollars in the United States. The figure is expected to rise at the same rate, with SEO expenditures projected to be at $79.27 billion by 2020. Furthermore, web presence development spending is expected to go as high as $322.08 billion this year, comprising 52.5% of the projected spending rate on digital marketing services (DMS).

What’s in Store for SEO?

  1. Personalized Searches

Among the major search engines, Google is the only one that’s able to optimize searches and come up with the most relevant results for users. For instance, if you log on to Google and search for gas stations, chances are that you will get local stations within the area. If you do the same while logged out, or using a proxy, you will get gas stations from other places.

You can take advantage of this by strengthening your brand’s local flavor. By adding to the localized appeal, users will be more likely to return to your webpage, increasing its rank.

  1. Mobile Apps

There has been an upsurge in mobile app and browser usage across the board. Today’s users want to do everything on their phones, from shopping to finding recipes to getting a ride home. Herein lays an opportunity: why not cater to this by making your webpage mobile-friendly, or even creating a mobile app? If you want to create an app, make sure to have it published on the App Store or Google Play.

  1. Online Stores

Another great way to compete with major brands is by selling your products via e-commerce stores. Amazon is considered a major competitor; product searches usually yield Amazon landing pages within the first few pages. Furthermore, users go directly to Amazon to search for products. By selling on Amazon, you market your product on a platform wherein social proof is available, as opposed to creating a separate webpage.

mobile-googlebotUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the latest algorithm changes from Google in 21st April. Well, the mobile friendly update rolled out early in May and the search giant did bring in the new ranking signal with the proposed effects coming into play on all websites that have not yet made their pages responsive and given the visitors a better experience just as it had laid them out when it was issuing the prior notice.

Visible effects on sites in terms of overall traffic, sales for ecommerce websites and ranking positions among others will start to be experienced in alittle while. So if you want your site to remain with the traffic it was getting previously, and perhaps get even more, you are going to want to boost your site’s user experience real soon.

ad-seo-serviceThis update is going to affect the mobile aspect of your websites and its pages, so don’t worry about the desktop and tablets’ traffic and rankings. If most of your traffic and sales came from the desktop and laptop users, this change will, to some point, not greatly impact your site. Google has also sought to enhance the search user experience by going to the point of ranking app content in the engine, using the app indexing provision. So app optimization will need to be kept in great consideration if one looks forward to increasing the reach of his app.

More to that, there are alot of things, both good and bad, that this algorithm evolution has brought to the web. And for you to make the most of this, you will want to understand it deeply. So, to help you do that, let’s a catch a better view of what really happened…

About the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

Google finally rolled out the new update in 12th May, having issued a notice back in March. It is a page by page signal which will be highly determining your rankings in the mobile search, which from the recent surveys and research done by Google analysts, is by far the most extensively used device in searches online. Searches in any languages will be affected only if they are made using the mobile device.

Google made it clear that this second version update will be dealing with the mobile search only. This means that of you were well ranked in the SERP’s on laptops, tablets and desktops, you will continue to enjoy the benefits of the ranking there. Nothing will be changed. But if you rely on mobile searches, and have not yet made your pages mobile friendly, you are going to note significant decrease in your ranking and traffic, which will ultimately affect your sales and conversions if you run an affiliate website.

More to that, The Trend Analyst of Google webmaster tools, John Mueller, cleared the most by saying that this is not mobilegeddon 2, as most people perceived. It is basically the second version of the Mobile
Friendly Trial Version that had been made early in November 2014.

Effects of Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm Update on Sites

Positive Effects

  • Websites that had already had their pages optimized for their users with the sites being flexible using the liquid design among other features, were pushed higher up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and are now being considered first before the authoritative sites that don’t have their websites optimized.
  • If your site has poor rankings on the desktop searches, you have a chance to change that in the mobile device by having your SEO team fully work on making the user experience of your site awesome. Keep in mind that mobile search accounts for 60% of all your site’s traffic, if you work on it keenly you will see great improvements in the near future.
  • The Negative Effects

  • Websites that haven’t yet accepted and implemented the expected changes have had their sites positions in Google dropped, which means a site that had been ranked in the first page was taken all the way to the 6th or 7th page depending on the number of sites that have made the transition in that niche and in the keywords the site is competing with.
  • The deterioration of the site’s authority in the SERPs will continue with time, if no changes are made, making the site’s overall performance weaker. And if the change is delayed even further, Google will lose trust in it and hurt the website in the long run.

What Should You do?
First of all, you need to check whether Google considers your pages mobile friendly by looking it up in Google webmaster tools, under the “mobile friendly” section. You can also know that by checking whether your ranked pages have got the mobile friendly label on the mobile search results. Although, you should note that it may take a while for this to be seen. Alternatively use the Google mobile friendly test.

If you are a site owner and have not yet made the necessary changes, you need to get your site optimized soon because you are missing out on a great deal of traffic and sales and conversions. You should get your SEO staff to work on the whole user experience aspect of you site. If you don’t have them, you can outsource some SEO agents from a local marketing company. Ideally, you should take up and put these new expectations for better site ranking and more revenue.