Google Study 4Google continues to prop up Biden and bury his opponents’ campaign websites in search results, according to the results of MRC Free Speech America’s newest study.

For the fourth time in a row, Google's search engine has once again favored Biden in searches conducted by MRC Free Speech America one week prior to the Republican presidential primary debate. MRC researchers broadly searched for “presidential campaign websites” as well as five additional searches specifying the party affiliation of even the third-party candidates. Google continued to bury Republican candidates’ websites if their websites showed up on the first page of results at all.

In a search for “republican presidential campaign websites,” Google did not produce a single Republican candidate’s website. Shockingly not even former President Donald Trump’s website appeared even though he is polling above 50 percent according to all major polls. The search did, however, come up with results for Marianne Williamson – who is running as a Democrat – and recent Republican dropout Will Hurd - who dropped out of the race in October after weeks of polling at zero. 

The campaign websites of Republican candidates Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley and Chris Christie were also nowhere to be found on the first page of Google’s search results. 

The first page of results did display a link to a Library of Congress page that referenced an archived version of Trump’s 2020 campaign website, but even the link referenced was dead.

Google had no problem retrieving incumbent President Joe Biden’s or Williamson’s websites in a search for “democrat presidential campaign websites,” as they appeared as the first and third results respectively. But the websites belonging to newly announced Democratic candidates Cenk Uygur and Dean Phillips appeared nowhere on the first page of results. 

When MRC researchers searched for “independent presidential campaign websites” neither Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s website nor Cornel West’s website appeared on the first page of search results, even though they are the only two candidates running as independents. 

Similarly, Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver’s website did not appear in Google’s first page of search results when MRC researchers searched for “libertarian presidential campaign websites.” Instead, the search came up with old campaign websites for former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and 2020 Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson. 

In another query, MRC researchers searched Google without specifying party affiliation. Replicating the first MRC pre-debate Google search study, MRC researchers searched the innocuous terms “presidential campaign websites.” Google’s search engine produced Biden’s campaign website as the third search result along with Williamson’s campaign website, which came up as the fourth result. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) 2020 presidential campaign website came up as the eleventh result. 

After hiding Trump’s campaign website prior to every other debate, Google’s search engine finally let former President Trump’s campaign website through to the first page of results but only as the twelfth result. Kennedy Jr. appeared as the thirteenth result and 2020 candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – who are not even running for the 2024 nomination – appeared as the fifteenth and twenty-seventh results respectively. 

The importance of where a search result appears on the first page of a Google search cannot be overstated. Not only is Google the go-to search engine for most people, holding a market share of nearly 92 percent worldwide, but the higher a search result appears, the more likely a user will click on a particular result, according to Brian Dean, a search engine optimization expert.

Dean conducted a study analyzing how often users click on various rankings of Google search results. His blog, Backlinko, reported that "The #1 Result In Google Gets 27.6% of All Clicks" and it has “10x higher [Click Through Rate] compared to the #10 result.” Astoundingly, less than one percent (.63%) of users click through to the second page of search results, underscoring the importance of positioning on the first page of search results. Other studies, like one conducted in 2020 by Sistrix, show similar results.

Methodology

For this report, MRC Free Speech America analyzed the Nov. 29 Google search results of “presidential campaign websites,” “republican presidential campaign websites,” “democrat presidential campaign websites,” “independent presidential campaign websites,” “libertarian presidential campaign websites” and “green party presidential campaign websites.” MRC Free Speech America created an algorithm to automate this process in a clean environment. A “clean environment” allows for organic search to populate results without the influence of prior search history and tracking cookies.

MRC Free Speech America researchers searched the innocuous words “presidential campaign websites,” “republican presidential campaign websites,” “democrat presidential campaign websites,” “independent presidential campaign websites,” “libertarian presidential campaign websites” and “green party presidential campaign websites” using the algorithm. To determine bias, our researchers looked at Google’s results and recorded the rank(s) of each candidate’s campaign website on the first page of results.

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