Our BLOG

Search Intelligence: Predicting Election Outcomes With Search Insights

A part of AMP’s Search Intelligence service is monitoring and analyzing changes in monthly keyword data such as estimated impressions and average monthly search volume to uncover insights about an audience or category. If you’re familiar with our Google Search Trends Insights series, you’ll know we’re already fans of using Google Trends to work out what’s weighing most heavily on the American mind. Today, we want to apply our Search Intelligence service to tomorrow’s election to see if we can predict which candidate is going to win in three critical midwestern swing states. To make these predictions, we used Google Keyword Planner’s Estimated Impressions metric to gauge the relative popularity of Trump and Biden branded merchandise. We used this US News article to decide which swing states to analyze and we have some interesting insights to share for three of them- Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Our Thinking
In 2016, the small Chinese city of Yiwu accurately predicted the outcome of the American election by noting that the city’s many small goods factories were selling much more Trump merchandise versus Clinton merchandise. We are applying the same rationale, that demand for merchandise tracks popular support, to several swing counties located in swing states. By using Google Keyword Planner’s Estimated Impressions metric, we can speculate how popular each candidate’s merch has been in each county and thus how that county is likely to vote. While it’s true that not every voter orders a sign or hat online, we still believe the data is useful because voters who vocally support a candidate may be likely to influence their friends, family, and neighbors.

Can Search Behavior Be Predictive?

Search insights, like the ones we gathered from Google Trends and Keyword Planner, can be a good indicator of future events because it can be used to identify historic trends which are likely to continue. Businesses can use this data  to determine which types of products they should be producing and how they should be marketing those products. By analyzing search insights about a topic over time, you can discover the increased public demand for a certain product type or variety. This particular function of Search Intelligence is called search listening.

For example, we can conduct a search listening exercise on a topic like “multivitamin” and uncover the insight that “multivitamin” keywords modified by the words “iron free” are seeing an increase in popularity, or that “sugar free multivitamin” is seeing a decline.

Search Intelligence vs. Polling

Search Intelligence can deliver insights you aren’t likely to get from other methods such as focus groups or polling. This is because Search Intelligence data is self-selected. You’re analyzing a population’s Google searches instead of depending on a third party pollster to successfully make contact with a person and then successfully persuade them to answer a question honestly. Search Intelligence data comes from people who sought out the search engine and entered their burning questions into it. Search engines are judgment free environments which are accessible to a huge swath of the population, so the data we can glean from them should be valued as an important input when examining or predicting behavior.

Methodology

To determine the relative popularity of Trump and Biden in the swing counties, a list of 40 “merchandise” associated keywords was inputted to Keyword Planner and then their estimated monthly impressions for November 2020 were aggregated and divided between “Trump supporting keywords” and “Biden supporting keywords”. In total, there are 40 keywords divided into eight categories:

  1. Button
  2. Flag
  3. Hat
  4. Merchandise
  5. Shirt
  6. Sign
  7. Sticker
  8. Store

All variations of a candidate’s name and campaign are accounted for, so not only are we tracking estimated impressions for “Trump sign” and “Biden sign” but also variations such as “Joe Biden sign” and “Trump Pence sign”.

Predicted State Victors According to Merch Sold in Swing Counties
If estimated merchandise impressions were the sole metric which decided the outcome of the election in these swing counties, we would feel confident calling the following three states for either President Donald Trump or Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Pennsylvania – Winner: Trump

pa-sorter

Our Search Intelligence analysis indicates that President Donald Trump is likely to win Pennsylvania. He appears to have maintained his 2016 support in the seven counties he won in the previous elections and appears to be ahead of Former Vice President and presidential candidate Biden in two more counties, including the critical swing county of Lackawanna. In Lackawanna county three of the top five merchandise searches belong to Trump.

lackawana

Trump also appears to be winning the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County. The query “Trump store” has nearly 1.6X the amount of estimated impressions as the highest Biden query, “Biden Harris sign”.

montgom

It is worth noting here that at the time this data was aggregated the Real Clear Politics average of polls was giving Biden a +3.6 advantage in the state and that the political futures market PredictIt had Biden as a clear favorite, with one share of “Yes Biden will win PA” selling for $0.63 whereas shares of “Yes Trump will win PA” were only selling for $0.39.

Michigan – Winner: Biden

unnamed (2)

President Donald Trump appears to be losing ground in Michigan. According to this Search Intelligence analysis Trump is behind Biden in three of the four counties he won last time and all other counties which went Clinton in 2016. Looking at the two swing counties Trump is losing in 2020, the advantage in merch impressions clearly belongs to Joe Biden.

unnamed (3)saginaw

Wisconsin – Winner: Trump

wisconsin

Trump merchandise is generating more impressions than Biden merchandise in four of the five Wisconsin swing counties. Trump is underperforming Biden in Kenosha county, a county he won in 2016 but to make up for this he is overperforming in Eau Claire and La Crosse counties. With Trump winning merchandise impressions in 70% of total counties and 80% of swing counties, the data shows that he is doing better in the state than either the RCP average of poll or PredictIt indicate.

At AMP Agency, we provide our clients with search insights as a data point to inform business decisions. Our passion for this leads us to explore search insights around major events such as elections as well because it’s another data point we can use to inform ourselves and understand the world around us. If you’re already practicing Social Listening or are gathering insights from polls or focus groups, Search Intelligence is another great tool to add to the mix. After all, no one lies to Google.

To learn more about Search Intelligence and our SEO services, contact us.

Related Posts

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 23, 2020

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER SLOWS DOWN ROLL OUT OF FLEETS DUE TO 'PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY' CONCERNS' If you haven't got the new Twitter Stori... sorry, 'Fleets' option as yet, you may have to wait a little longer - according to Twitter, it's delaying the expanded roll-out of Fleets just a little bit due to performance and stability concerns. Read More INSTAGRAM LAUNCHES UPDATED UI FOR STANDALONE THREADS APP Instagram has announced a new update for its standalone Threads app, which despite seemingly not gaining massive traction is still holding on, a year after its initial release. Read More INSTAGRAM ADDS KEYWORD SEARCH IN ADDITION TO PROFILES AND TAGS Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags, and locations. Read More That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

Google Search Trends Insights October 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. October 2020 - We’re Almost Done With This Year Here we are, exploring the search trends of the tenth month of this bizarre, tumultuous year. Maybe someday in the future we can look back at these articles and get a good perspective of where we were as a country at this point in time. October started off with a bang when the President contracted COVID-19 and continued with more queries related to politics as the election got closer. There were plenty of sports queries to examine, as well, including ones related to two championships that occurred in October. There were a few holidays (official and unofficial) that drove keyword interest along with some spikes about Daylight Saving Time ending. Lastly, we saw two product names make the top 3 most queried keywords on the day they were released.  The 10 Million Plus Club For October 2020 This month, there was only one Google Doodle driving over 10 million queries in a day (Mary Ann Shadd). The other phrases were driven by news or other events of the day. Trump COVID - 10/1/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Eddie Van Halen - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Kamala Harris - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Mary Ann Shadd - 10/8/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Dak Prescott - 10/11/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Sean Connery - 10/31/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries As mentioned, the announcement of the President testing positive for COVID-19 drove the max number of queries as reported by Google Trends. The deaths of Eddie Van Halen and Sean Connery also drove users to search their names. Kamala Harris was the top keyword related to the Vice Presidential debate that happened on October 7th. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome compound right ankle fracture and dislocation during a game on the 11th.   A Google Doodle was created for Mary Ann Shadd in honor of what would have been her 197th birthday. She was the first Black female newspaper editor and publisher in North America and fought for abolition and women’s suffrage. The Number Of Politics Related Keywords Continues To Grow With the election coming up on November 3rd, the politics-related phrases increased again as compared to September and August. Here are the most important ones from last month: Trump - 10/1/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hope Hicks - 10/1/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Kayleigh McEnany - 10/5/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Pence Fly - 10/7/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries 25th Amendment - 10/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Trump town hall - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Hunter Biden - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries AOC - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Debate tonight - 10/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amy Coney Barrett - 10/26/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Excluding the two politics-related terms that made the 10 million+ club, this list contains the keywords that were queried the most in October. COVID-19 made its way through the White House early in the month, with the President and Hope Hicks being the first ones to get it. Then, Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for the virus. The fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head drove people to search as did the House seeking to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a president's Cabinet or Congress to intervene when a president is unable to conduct the duties of the office. The Trump town hall was queried more than the Biden one. On that same day, a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s business dealings piqued the interest of Google searchers. AOC joined Twitch on the 20th and the last presidential debate was a hot topic.  Finally, Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, which was almost a month to the day she was announced as a nominee (Amy Coney Barrett - 9/25/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries) For marketers, it is important to understand how much attention politics draws right before the election. For marketers trying to get their messages across, it may provide an opportunity with an increase in traffic to news sites.  Holidays, Time, and Blue Moons (not the beer) October had a good number of holidays that made our keyword list. Columbus Day is still a thing, so people are searching about it. Also, Amazon Prime Day got moved from July to last month because of the pandemic. Columbus Day 2020 - 10/11/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amazon Prime Day - 10/12/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Let’s see if the shift in dates had an effect on the search popularity of “amazon prime day” The interest on that phrase is down from July 2019 but the peak occurred in 2018. Halloween drove searches but so did the other phenomenon (both natural and man made) that happened at the end of the month. Halloween - 10/29/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Daylight savings time 2020 - 10/30/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Blue moon on Halloween - 10/30/2020 - 200,000+ queries Blue moon - 10/30/2020 - 500,000+ queries Daylight savings - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Certainly a blue moon that happens on Halloween is interesting and enough people have searched about full moons earlier in the year for those queries to make our list (Example: Strawberry Moon - 6/4/2020 - 500,000+queries) but the subject of Daylight Saving time driving not one but two phrases into the top 3 across two days is odd. It appears that no one cared when we turned the clocks forward back in the spring, but in October, it was a big deal! New Products There were two popular product releases in October 2020: iPhone 12 - 10/13/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hummer EV - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Now, an electric Hummer was probably a bit of a surprise but certainly any time a new iPhone is released, there is going to be people searching for it. Let’s look at how the 12 compared to other releases. The peak for “iphone” happened in 2012 with the release of the iPhone 5. We then took a look at how the most recent models compared to each. The iPhone 7 is the clear winner when we compared the model search terms with a timeframe of the last 5 years. Is the popularity of the iPhone decreasing? The level of search interest seems to be dwindling. We Are The Champions Of the 93 keyword phrases we collected in October 2020, 39 of them were sports related. The NFL made up most of the phrases but we thought we’d point out a few terms of other sports. UFC/Boxing: Lomachenko vs Lopez - 10/16/2020 - 500,000+ queries Khabib vs Gaethje - 10/23/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Clemson football Clemson football - 10/17/2020 - 200,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/29/2020 - 500,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries UEFA Champions League Soccer Champions League - 10/21/2020 - 500,000+ queries Juventus vs Barcelona - 10/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries It’s important to note that the search interest for sports – even ones that we may not think have mass appeal. We’re waiting until the American Cornhole League keywords start showing up in the daily top 3. The NBA and MLB had their championship series occur in October. The NBA is certainly more popular from a search perspective. Lakers - 10/6/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Lakers - 10/11/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries World Series - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/27/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Next month, we’ll report if the NFL’s popularity is continuing to increase. The early data for November suggest it is, but we’ll provide our analysis in December. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services,  Until next month.  

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 16, 2020

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER LAUNCHES NEW 'CAROUSELS' AD FORMAT OPTION Twitter announced a new addition to its ad format options: Carousels. With the launch of Twitter's new Carousels format, marketers can now add up to six images or videos in an ad. Read More FACEBOOK TESTS NEW OPTIONS TO ADD MOTION EFFECTS TO STILL IMAGES IN FEED Facebook is testing some new visual effects options for still images posted to News Feed, which add simulated, video-like movement to your pictures. Read More NEW REPORT PREDICTS THAT TIKTOK WILL SURPASS ONE BILLION USERS IN 2021 "TikTok has seen sharp growth in active users by amassing a sizable global footprint in 2020 — nearly tripling in size since 2018. In 2021, we expect TikTok to not only achieve a coveted spot in the 1 Billion monthly active users club, but to sail straight past to 1.2 billion." Read More That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.