Did Google Predict the Results of the Election?
The UK has gone to the polls to vote for who will govern the country for the next five years. Predictions suggested a hung parliament and another potential coalition government, but what did search trends reveal?
We have been keeping a close eye on election search trend developments and the huge part played by social engagement in the run up to polling on May 7th. Here is what we have discovered:
Google Trends Constituency & Election Results
On May 7th Google released some very interesting data based on local searches within constituencies, paired with research from the University of Sheffield; together they suggest an election based purely on Google searches of party leaders over the last 12 months would yield the following results:
- Conservative Party – 237 Seats
- UKIP – 221 Seats
- Labour – 125 Seats
- SNP – 43 Seats
- Liberal Democrats – 17 Seats
- Green Party – 3 Seats
- Plaid Cymru – 1 Seat
- Other – 3 Seats
SEO companies strive to understand buying terms and the type of work which will offer the greatest ROI for clients. With this in mind, we should be looking at the data objectively.
For example, Nigel Farage was not a ‘buying term’ and in fact searches for the UKIP leader could have been related to himself as a character and those trying to find out more about the outspoken politician.
The considerations for analysing search terms is simple – buying terms will be the driver of an organic campaign.
Understanding Search Trends
As stated, the search trends used to determine Google’s election outcome were based on searches in each constituency for the last 12 months. These may not necessarily be related to the general election happening on May 7th.
For example, the European Election was held in May 2014 – a time when Nigel Farage was a publicity peak and Nicola Sturgeon was recently appointed leader of the SNP following the referendum in Scotland.
Results from separate research, published by Captify, found Ed Miliband to be highest searched for leader over the last 7 days with 31% or 205 seats, meaning on the stats outlined earlier we would still be heading for a hung parliament, but Labour may fair slightly better. The outcome of course differed from this as well. The Conservative party as a whole received almost 50% of searches.
These search trends appear much more in-line with the election and could be considered closer to ‘peak business’ time for the government.
Further, analysing search trends also gives insight to the type of searches likely to convert – or in this case influence votes.
Data shows Ukip searches were largely paired with immigration, Labour with healthcare, Conservatives with Education (we wonder whether this includes Eton terms as well), SNP with housing, Green with Environment and Lib Dems with the economy. Ukip also had a second high with welfare.
Analysing search trends across audiences and products offers integral data into campaign structuring, with quick wins and long term focuses – paired with buying terms, these can both be very powerful tools.