They had screenshots, big words, and talked with their hands. They sounded like an important thought leader you should trust.
Well, I have screenshots and I’ve been getting paid to manipulate Google’s search results for years versus getting paid to make sensational videos on YouTube to sell ads based on view count.
In a nutshell:
SourceFed believes Google is manipulating search results in favor of Hillary Clinton, because “Hillary Clinton cri-” did not return “Hillary Clinton criminal charges” and “Hillary Clinton in-” did not return “Hillary Clinton indictment.”
Let me share some interesting screenshots about Donald Trump that I found by searching for two of his most scandalous controversies as covered by The Atlantic.
Donald Trump was accused of rape by Ivana Trump during their divorce. She has since disavowed this, but it’s a real story in the news and many have searched for it. Interestingly, a Google search for “Donald Trump ra-” does not return anything about the rape. There are many mentions of “rally,” which makes sense, but “Donald Trump rap” has less trending searches in the last year and ranks where as “Donald Trump rape” does not.
Search trends are a significant factor in how Google Autocomplete works — this is the entire basis for SourceFed’s claim and yet according to their logic, Google must be favoring Donald Trump as well.
In The Atlantic article there are numerous lawsuits mentioned, so I simply looked up “Donald Trump la-” to see what appeared. Interestingly, there were no mentions “lawsuits” or “lawsuit,” but “Donald Trump laughing” did appear in the autocomplete search results despite having lower search volume according to Google Trends:
At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “whoa, you’re just choosing random words and searching on them!”
I’m doing exactly what SourceFed did…
I’m selectively choosing words that I think people should be searching on and I’m throwing them into Google and Google Trends to find exceptions that support my story. The difference is that I’m presenting the other side of the argument and I’d like to know what kind of agenda SourceFed has against Hillary Clinton and/or Google that they didn’t take literally two minutes to search for similar stories where Donald Trump was concerned.
The story isn’t that Google favors Hillary Clinton, it’s that Google is a complex algorithm that presents information in many ways and at this point that includes artificial intelligence!
Talking about the future of search technology is a very interesting story, but it’s not going to sell ads for SourceFed like this juicy topic has.
I’m not going to pretend that I understand everything about Google, because that’s impossible for anyone but Google’s engineers. However, I can say with certainty that Google does NOT favor Hillary Clinton.
How do I know?
Because we can simply search for her name to figure this out.
Maybe Google isn’t presenting the queries SourceFed looked up, because they assume that a human being has already typed in “Hillary Clinton” and seen queries related to “email” and “Benghazi” in the top five suggested autocomplete results before they decided to keep typing those other randomly selected terms into Google.
Is Google’s algorithm intelligent enough to know that “email” when mentioned with “Hillary Clinton” is synonymous with “indictment” and “criminal charges?”
I know this because if you select “Hillary Clinton email” after typing in “Hillary Clinton,” Google’s very first recommendation is “Hillary Clinton email charges:”
Guess what else?
WAAAYYYYYY more people search for “Hillary Clinton email” than “Hillary Clinton criminal charges:”
How many more people?
More people search for “donald trump rap” than “hillary clinton criminal charges:”
But why present the data in the context of other queries?
SourceFed had a a really compelling graph and sounded very intelligent, so it must be true! Who needs context when there’s anecdotal evidence about how they decided to search for two random queries out of literally millions of variations that Google has been able to process and return in more intelligent ways based on actual user behavior.
Data + context. It matters.
Let’s see if mainstream media bothers to do their homework or simply picks up this completely bogus story spreading it further.
Now for the real kicker…
Because SourceFed told you to look up these queries, they’ve just manipulated Google’s search results.
Think about that for a minute. Google Autocomplete is powered by user behavior, personalization, trends, and lots of other factors. By telling hundreds of thousands of people (and growing) to search for these queries, SourceFed has just sent Google data supporting a massive spike of interest in these terms.
It’ll be very interesting to see what happens with these queries from here.
As someone who has been paid to to manage online reputations and displace negative Google search results for years, I have to wonder if there was a different motivation behind this video, because it was either very poorly done or very strategically executed. Whatever the reason, I hope if you’ve read this far you now have a better understanding of how Google Autocomplete works and that this has absolutely nothing to do with favoring anyone.
This is taking off and there are some good points being made.
Fact: Google suppresses “rape” terms across the board, so that was a poor example by me. However, “lawsuits” is valid and the “racist” inquiry in the edit below still stands.
Just take my word for it, here’s a screenshot of Google Trends data for the two queries SourceFed looked up.
Let’s keep watching what happens. The real story is whether these continue to be filtered out after this huge surge in interest for both terms. If they do it could be because of prior suggested searches or that they’ve already started they will filter some queries based on the content those queries contain.
Edit: I’m starting to get overly critical responses about whether I bothered to look at Bing and Yahoo. Yes, I did, and the most damn evidence is present there! “Donald Trump ra-” doesn’t mention the rape, but it’s all over queries that include “racist!”
The story that matters is HOW Google Autocomplete works not that it favors anyone.
My belief is that they’re factoring in prior suggested searches you ignored plus filtering out queries that will lead to certain types of content. The latter is a suggestion from Kristine Schachinger during our 3am debate and exchange of related screenshots.