Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaign websites are reaching their peak in terms of Google search visibility as the climax to the US election approaches, according to new research.
The study, from Searchmetrics, indicates that Clinton’s content is more focused on herself and her own policies with 3x more backlinks, while Trump’s campaign pages are doing well by providing less cluttered pages and a better user experience (which helps to boost search visibility).
Both concentrate mostly on preaching to their own supporters rather than targeting the other side by covering and challenging opposing views.
The insights come from an analysis of the candidates’ campaign websites (donaldjtrump.com and hillaryclinton.com) conducted by Searchmetrics, which provides software for optimising search and content performance. Below you can find a summary of findings in five important areas.
1) Both Trump and Clinton’s campaign websites are reaching peak search visibility as the climax to the election campaign approaches
Both campaign websites are reaching peak performance in terms of their visibility in Google searches as the campaign approaches the big climax (see below) ie they are now more visible than ever. Search performance here is measured using Searchmetrics’ SEO Visibility Score¹ a measure of how often and how prominently a site appears in search results.
2) Neither candidate is too bothered about paid search advertising
• Both candidates’ Paid Visibility scores¹ (a Searchmetrics measure of how active a site is in paid search engine advertising) shows they are not investing much in search ads, with current levels at or close to zero.
• While Clinton has been investing for over a year, Trump’s camp only began using any search engine advertising at all in the week to July 17, the week before his nomination at the Republican National Convention.
3) On the policy issues: Clinton is better at talking about herself, while Trump wins when competing head to head
Both candidates have a section on their sites that covers “policy” (https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/ and https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies). This is how they compare in terms of covering the content and search performance:
• Clinton has 109 different web pages in the policy setcion compared with only 27 for Trump. But when you compare the search visibility (SEO Visibility) of the two sections, it’s a little closer, 10,052 v 7,551. This means Trumps’ 27 pages are doing a good job competing, even though Clinton has nearly four times as many pages.
• Among the top ten shared keywords of the two policy sections are “immigration”, “Tax” and “health care plans” with Trump ranking more highly in 65% of all shared keywords. So when the two sections compete head to head, Trump is winning.
• Clinton’s policy section performs better when people are searching for content that’s about her or her own policies, while Trump’s is more likely to show up in more general searches around political policy and issues. For example, of the 75 keywords in the policy section for which Clinton ranks in 1st position, all of them but 2 (i.e. 97.4%) contain the term “Hillary” or “Clinton” or both. Trump’s policies pages rank in 1st position only 17 times, but only three (17.6%) contain the words “Donald” or “Trump”. Clinton’s pages will be found primarily by users specifically looking for information on Clinton and her position on various policies. Trump’s page, by contrast, will be found by people searching for general information on the issues.
• On individual policy pages Clinton tends to have more content and content elements, but Trump’s pages are more uniform, with fewer elements and the information is presented in a more easily consumable way (i.e. a better user experience) –
4) On big issues such as Gun Control: both candidates are preaching to the converted
Gun control is a hot issue with Trump firmly behind the US second amendment which enshrines the right to bear arms, while Clinton is wanting tougher controls to stop gun violence. Both candidates feature dedicated pages on this issue (Trump’s is “constitution and second amendment”, Clinton’s is “gun violence prevention) and an analysis of their content reveals:
• Trump’s page ranks for almost three times as many keywords as Clinton’s;
• Of the 150 keywords Trump’s page ranks for, 128 (85.3%) relate directly to second amendment rights (contain the words: “2”, “second”, “amendment” or “rights”)
• Of the 56 keywords Clinton ranks for, just 2 (3.6%) relate to second amendment rights, whereas 44 (78.6%) relate to controlling violence (contain: “control”, “law”, “ban” or “violence”).
• Only 12 (8.0%) of Trump’s keywords relate to control.
The upshot is: content from both candidates is overwhelmingly focused on discussing their own positions on this issue. There is good scope on both sides for adapting their content to discuss the other side and draw in searchers who might be looking for content from the opposing view.
5) Clinton has 3x more backlinks, Trump compensates with better user experience: neither links to the other’s site
The number and quality of backlinks to a site are recognised as a factor that can boost its ranking and performance in organic search. The analysis found that:
• Clinton has three times more backlinks than Trump. Yet there is far less of a gulf in their SEO visibility scores (Clinton just 1.4% higher). It could be that Trump’s links are from better quality (higher authority) sites than Hillary’s, meaning Google rates them more highly. And donaldjtrump.com has other factors contributing to its SEO Visibility, perhaps the fact that his content is clear and more focused with a better user experience – in fact, as the importance of backlinks in determining a page’s Google rank has declined, this is the more likely scenario.
• When describing their opponent’s positions or statements (which both do extensively), the data shows that neither has a single link on their entire domain to their rival’s campaign site – even when trying to verify their claims against each other (Although Clinton’s campaign doesn’t mind linking to Trump’s twitter page, possibly because she’s trying to expose his angry, negative messages)
Searchmetrics tracks the paid and organic search ranking of millions of keywords every week. It calculates the SEO visibility and Paid Visibility scores based on several relevant parameters, some of which are:
• The number of times a domain appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) across the keyword set.
• Its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score)
• The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score)
• The SERP click-through-rates (CTRs), (the probability of a result being clicked according to its position on the search engine results page)
You can find further background on this data in a Searchmetricss blog post here.