Commentary

Biden's Website Gains More Visibility In Google Search -- What It Means

While it's not a barometer of who will win the 2020 presidential election, the website of presidential candidate Joe Biden gained significant visibility in Google search beginning in September, compared with Donald Trump's website, according to research from Searchmetrics.

Analysts at Searchmetrics wanted to determine the SEO visibility levels of the websites and identify the site that ranked the best in specific subject areas and any overlap of topics. The data for the analysis was collected on October 18.

One of the key reasons for the improved performance for Biden's website, according to the study, was the introduction of the Trump Tax Calculator, an interactive online widget where voters enter the amount of tax they paid in 2017 to compare it with how much U.S. President Trump paid based on the New York Times estimated numbers.

The strategy enabled Biden's campaign site to achieve a high ranking in Google Search for a large number of search queries about Trump‘s taxes that were triggered by news stories about this topic at the time. The calculator attracted media attention and earned the Biden website backlinks from many publisher sites that helped to drive the improvement in search performance.  Other keywords that pushed the Biden website up in rankings were the terms “obama care” and “gun control.”

The data shows that this tactic on September 27 cost the Trump site 45% of its Google visibility for keywords like “vax,” “coalition,” and “Washington Post,” according to the research. The drop in rankings was for blog posts, many of which are short in copy, directed against Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates Biden and Harris, respectively, or in response to statements made against Trump.

Advertisers have a lot at stake -- more than just who will serve as president. If the U.S. sees a Biden victory, a federal data privacy law seems inevitable. Advertisers will see California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) quickly move across other states, since his vice presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, has served as the junior United States senator from California since 2017.

The study also shows that combined, Trump and Biden rank in Google search on roughly 10,000 keywords, but only 2% of these are ranked for both the Democratic and the Republican presidential websites. This suggests the election campaign websites from Trump and Biden are optimized for very different topics, which makes sense.

Biden’s website is structured by political topic, and those most relevant for top Google rankings are immigration, gun law, healthcare and women’s rights.

Some areas of Trump’s website often contain no political content. Instead, the site advertises campaign appearances and its merchandise store. The main political content comes from a handful of short blog posts. Google ranked this site early on as trusted.

Both websites are mainly intended for mobilizing support, requesting donations or selling merchandise.

Searchmetrics also notes that both websites look to achieve revenue from Google Ads by linking the advertisements to their respective stores for merchandising.

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