Study Finds Conservative Sites Get Less Traffic from Google Search

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This post was originally published on The Drudge Report.

A new research paper from Leo Goldstein claims to have quantified Google’s bias against leading conservative sites—including PJ Media—in search ranking, especially (but not exclusively) in the area of climate change.

“Google Search is found to be biased in favor of left/liberal domains and against conservative domains with a confidence of 95%,” Goldstein found. “Further, certain hard-Left domains have such a high [percentage of domain traffic, referred by Google Search, net of brand searches] that their standing raises suspicions that they have been hand-picked for prominent placement,” he says, adding that “certain respected conservative domains are blacklisted.”

In an email to PJ Media Goldstein warned that a number of conservatives sites, including PJM, could be the victims of Google bias:

Dear Editors,

You might be interestted to learn, that your websites have been almost  blacklisted by Google. “Almost blacklisted” means that Google search artificially downranks results from your websites to such extent that  you lose 55% – 75% of possible visitors traffic from Google. This  sitution is probably aggravated by secondary effects, because many users and webmasters see Google ranking as a signal of trust.

This result is reported in my paper published in WUWT. The findings are consistent with multiple prior results, showing Google left/liberal bias, and pro-Hillary skew of Google search in the elections.

I write to all of them to give you opportunity to discuss this matter among yourselves. Even if Google owes nothing to your publications, it certainly owes good faith to the users of its search. Intentionally hiding conservative and/or libertarian websites from the customers is an obvious breach of good faith.

He included a list of several conservative sites that may have been targeted for bias:

On average, Goldstein explained in the paper, the percentage of Google referral traffic (PGSTN) is in the 25-30 percent range for a broad class of web domains. Respected conservative sites like PJM and RedState have much lower percentages according to his findings. He based his research on the Alexa website ranking site.

On average, the conservative domains have almost two times lower PGSTN than the left/liberal ones: conservative 15.5% (standard deviation 5.1%) vs. left/liberal 27.4% (standard deviation 4.9%).  Hypothesis of Google Search left/liberal bias is confirmed with a confidence of 95%.

He included this chart to demonstrate his findings:

Chart showing Google's liberal bias Image Credit Leo Goldstein

On first glance, this sounds like a clear case of bias. However, there are some factors to consider. First, Alexa is not known to accurately reflect a site’s internal numbers, relying as it does on “estimated” metrics. PJM’s actual Google organic traffic referral percentage, for example, is higher than what Alexa reports. And Alexa’s estimate is based on their estimate of total traffic to a site. So, for example, if a site gets a large percentage of traffic from another source (e.g. Drudge or Yahoo) the percentage of Google organic traffic will naturally be lower.

This post was originally published on The Drudge Report.

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