Google’s search bias against conservative news sites has been quantified

Guest essay by Leo Goldstein

A Method of Google Search Bias Quantification and Its Application in Climate Debate and General Political Discourse

Abstract

The percentage of domain traffic, referred by Google Search, net of brand searches (PGSTN), tends to be in or around the range 25%-30% for a broad class of web domains.  This hypothesis is tested by calculating the correlation between the popularity of news/opinions websites and their PGSTN, and finding it to be near zero.  Thus, PGSTN can be used rigorously to detect and even quantify Google Search intentional bias.  Intentional bias is the bias that has been introduced by internal Google decisions, and unrelated to external factors, such as the dominance of particular viewpoints on the web.  Here, the PGSTN method is applied for intentional bias detection about climate debate and in general political discourse.

Google Search is found to be extremely biased in favor of climate alarmism and against climate realism.  The PGSTN ranges for climate realism and climate alarmism do not even overlap!  Some of the most important climate realist domains, including low-controversial judithcurry.com, have such a low PGSTN that they can be considered blacklisted by Google.

Google Search is found to be biased in favor of left/liberal domains and against conservative domains with a confidence of 95%.  Further, certain hard-Left domains have such a high PGSTN that their standing raises suspicions that they have been hand-picked for prominent placement.  Certain respected conservative domains are blacklisted.

 

Introduction

Left-liberal political bias in Google Search has been noticed for years. See Robert Epstein et al, A Method for Detecting Bias in Search Rankings, with Evidence of Systematic Bias Related to the 2016 Presidential Election;  Todd Dunning’s 2015-09-15 comment; Leo Goldstein, Why are Search Engines so Hostile to Climate Realism?

These observations have not completely resolved the question whether the bias was intentional, or reflected the biased web content.  Recently, Google’s official Search Evaluation Guidelines have shown intentional bias against climate realism. At least one former Google employee claimed intentional demotion of “anything non-PC” by the Google Search team.

This paper uses published SEO data from multiple sources, including BrightEdge Research, 2017: Organic Search Is Still the Largest Channel, updating its 2014 report. From here on, the term ‘bias’ means intentional bias.  This paper formulates, substantiates, and applies a quantitative method of bias detection in Google Search.

Methods

It is known that Google Search provides 25%-30% of the user’s traffic to an average website.  As Google executives and PR repeated many times, Google Search service exists to provide the most relevant and useful results to the user’s queries.  Google Chairman Eric Schmidt even joked that there should be only one result for each query – the result that the user seeks.  Google servers crawl the whole web, extracting text, links, and other data from trillions of pages.  Google constantly and successfully fights attempts to artificially promote websites through collusive linking, and other search engine optimization techniques.  In its undertaking, Google also uses an enormous amount of off-web information, which it collects through Chrome browser, other Google applications and services, analytics beacons, domains registrar status, and so on.  This information includes domains popularity and ownership.  Google also processes immediate feedback from the users in the form of frequency of clicks on the results, bounce rate, the frequency of repeated searches with modified terms, etc.

Google is very good at its job.  Sites and domains that are less popular with the visitors tend to be less likely to receive traffic from Google, and vice versa.  The effect is that percentage of net traffic that domains receive from Google Search tends to be similar across web domains!  This fact is illustrated by nearly zero correlation between domain popularity and percentage of net traffic it receives from Google within each of the sets of the left/liberal media and conservative media, despite the domain popularity (according to Alexa.com, lower values mean higher popularity), varying from 24 to 1,469 for the left/liberal media set, and from 56 to 12,795 for the conservative media set.  Traffic from Google ads is about 5% of the total Google traffic, so it is not a factor.  “Net traffic,” used throughout this research, excludes traffic received from the users, intentionally searching for the website by its name (i.e., searches for ‘foxnews and ‘fox news’ are excluded from the net traffic for foxnews.com).  Net traffic better reflects Google intent, because Google Search does not have much choice when the user searches for a website by its name or brand.  Alexa.com provides information which allows PGSTN calculation for hundreds of thousands of web domains.

Given the robustness of PGSTN, I conclude that statistically significant difference in PGSTN between a priori defined sets of comparable domains is due to intentional bias by Google, unless there is another good explanation.

Methodological Details

All the data in this research is based on Alexa (free version) snapshots from September 4, 2017.  For each domain, Google Search Total was taken from “Upstream Sites | Which sites did people visit immediately before this site?” table. Branded traffic was taken from the “Top Keywords from Search Engines | Which search keywords send traffic to this site?” table.  It should be noted that only five top values, appearing in the free Alexa snapshots, were used.  All Google search domains shown in the table were included (google.com, google.ca, google.co.uk, google.co.in etc.) If the total of the branded traffic were less than 5%, the value 1% was entered.  PGSTN was calculated by deducting branded search traffic from the total Google Search traffic.

PGSTN is not expected to provide sufficient certainty for individual domains, because multiple factors influence it, including possible error in Alexa data.  Nevertheless, the Google attitude toward a domain has been provisionally noted and color coded in the attached spreadsheet PGSTN-Domains.xlsx as follows:

Whitelist / Green Light: >36% 

Normal: 20%-36% 

Grey Area: 12%-20% 

Blacklist: <=12% 

Most domains were expected (based on the cited SEO research) to have PGSTN in the 20%-36% range. This expectation has been met.  PGSTN <= 12% provisionally indicates that the domain is blacklisted by Google.  Everything between the blacklist and the normal range is considered a grey area.  Finally, PGSTN > 36% provisionally indicates unusual favoritism by Google.

Google Bias in Climate Debate

The domains were selected mostly according to Alexa classification.  Detection of extreme bias Google Search has against climate realism did not require statistical methods.

 

 

There is a huge gap between PGSTN of realism domains (6.3% – 17.4%), and PGSTN of climate alarmism domains (23.5%-52.4%).  The gap is 6.1%.  Except for drroyspencer.com, all climate realism domains are blacklisted by Google (PGSTN is 6.3% – 11.0%).

On the other hand, self-appointed “fact checkers,” including snopes.com and politifact.com have PGSTN about 50%.  That gives ground to the suspicion that they had been hand-picked by Google for prioritization.  Another two sites with suspiciously high PGSTN are sourcewatch.org (PGSTN = 50.1%) and prwatch.org (PGSTN = 40.9%).  These two sites grossly exchange links (they refer to each other as the source), have overlapping content, and are known to Google to belong to the same organization, the Center for Media and Democracy.  These are well-known signs of spam – yet Google has not only failed to downrank them as spam, but likely manually prioritized them.

This section includes netrootsnation.org, a site of a radical left conference, not specifically geared toward climate alarmism.  Its PGSTN = 44.5%.  This domain could have been hand-picked or its owners had been advised by Google insiders on gaming the rankings.  Google has funded the conference, and Google representatives attended it and made presentations on relevant subjects, like this one. A quote:

“We’ll share some ways to leverage the power of online video and how to integrate Google and YouTube’s tools with other advocacy efforts.”

All other alarmist domains have PGSTN in the whitelisted or normal range.

Google Bias in General Political Discourse

To quantify Google general political bias, I selected top U.S. news and opinions sites by their ranking in Alexa, then added some lower ranking conservative sites based on my personal knowledge and/or Alexa suggestions.  There was an element of subjectivity in selection and classification, and I omitted some domains that I could not classify.  Nevertheless, the most popular domains in both left/liberal (including Left, Mainstream Liberal, and Mainstream Center) and conservative (including Conservative and Mainstream Conservative) categories have been selected and classified rigorously, and use of weighted statistics minimized the element of subjectivity in the results.

 

 

The results show that Google Search is heavily biased against conservative domains, and some respectable conservative domains seem to be blacklisted:

thegatewaypundit.com

pjmedia.com

americanthinker.com

redstate.com

powerlineblog.com

drudgereport.com

There might be an alternative or additional explanation for low PGSTN of the Drudge Report – the site mostly consists of links to articles on other sites, a practice Google looks down on.

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%.

Discussion

Although PGSTN of individual domains is not sufficient for conclusions, I cannot avoid noticing that extremist websites, such as dailystormer.com (PGSTN = 13.6%; ceased to exist by the time of the research) and dailykos.com (PGSTN = 20.2%) are preferred by Google over many conservative and climate realist domains.

Conclusions

Google Search is biased in favor of left/liberal websites against conservative websites, and is extremely biased in favor of climate alarmism against climate realism.

 Disclosure

I hold short positions in Google stock.

References

The references are in the body of the article.

Supplementary Materials

Alexa snapshots are available from https://defyccc.com/data/PGSTN-Snapshots.7z (compressed with 7-Zip).

 

Contact Author: Leo Goldstein, DefyCCC.com, ah@defyccc.com

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177 thoughts on “Google’s search bias against conservative news sites has been quantified

  1. sourcewatch and desmogblog are not ‘hate sites’ as represented in the charts above.

    If that’s the level of reasoning applied in this research, then I think it must be suspect.

    • Well Griff, you can say what you want but any site that carries lists of names and companies that are ‘deniers’ is not a warm cuddly mumsnet is it?

      It is probably illegal to call someone with skeptical views a [climate] denier and [it’s] probably also hate speech.

      • “It is probably illegal to call someone with skeptical views a [climate] denier”

        So does that mean it is probably illegal to call someone with normal views a [climate] alarmist?

      • ReallySkeptical September 8, 2017 at 8:37 am
        “It is probably illegal to call someone with skeptical views a [climate] denier”

        So does that mean it is probably illegal to call someone with normal views a [climate] alarmist?
        ———————–

        Is someone continually screams “The sky is falling!” considered normal now? Is this the new normal?

        When scientists are more interested in “The Cause” than science or the truth, how can they not be considered alarmists. People who resort to Chicken Little tactics will be called Chicken Littles.

      • Climate denier’ is idiotically meaningless, no-one ‘deniers’ the climate.
        ‘Climate alarmist’ is a perfectly accurate description, climate alarmists are alarmed about the climate, they admit themselves.

      • Google Search is found to be extremely biased in favor of climate alarmism and against climate realism. The PGSTN ranges for climate realism and climate alarmism do not even overlap!

        Anyone who starts out calling their position “realist” , is basically saying I’m right, this is the “truth”. That is basically no different from saying : the science is settled.

        At that point I know the level of objectivity to expect and avoid wasting my time parsing the rest to see whether it makes sense.

        No time for dogmatism from either side.

      • Greg, if we weren’t in a war for the survival of Western Civilization, I’d agree with you.

        ‘Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.’

      • If you hate the same people that liberals hate, then your hate isn’t hate.
        Liberals have redefined hate to mean anything they disagree with.

      • Greg, Realist and Alarmist are emotive terms but are justifiable.

        -Alarmists tender their policies in the light of RCP8.5 – the most extreme of IPCC AR5 climate scenarios.
        -Realists tender their policies in the light of scenarios that are actually happening.

        This doesn’t mean that the scenarios will continue to happen.
        But it does distinguish between those who prefer the unreal and scary to the currently real and mundane.

      • Greg-

        “Anyone who starts out calling their position “realist” , is basically saying I’m right, this is the “truth”. That is basically no different from saying : the science is settled.”

        Absolutely illogical statement. Realists are the people demonstrating the TRUTH that the science is not settled! Realists are those who accept reality as it is, they do not attempt to redefine reality, distort it, lie about it, or adjust it in any way.

        Realists say “here are the facts”. They ask “what are rhe facts?” They distinguish between what is REAL/factual and what is not, and stand by what is REAL. Hence the term “realists”. “Right” and “wrong” as you used them are SUBJECTIVE terms. Fact and non-fact are NOT subjectives.

        You show no more skilled reasoning here than Griff does. YOU don’t get to imply that you KNOW what the author “basically” meant, even though he said something different.

    • There are also countries and leaders today that deny genocide ever happened, like in modern day Turkey.

    • Sorry, Griff, they are “hate sites”. They thrive on name-calling and innuendo. If your level of reasoning says any different, your reasoning must be suspect.

    • DeSmog played a discreditable role in the Peter Gleick affair, and still gives a twisted version of that event, attempting to salvage the credibility of Heartland’s supposed “strategy document,” using a basically baseless source.

      • Interestingly, I have just Googled –
        “Google search biased”
        This thread is at # 2 [albeit something from the Grauniad is at #1
        That is at about 2225 Z 8th September.

        Auto.

      • (Possible) Typo!
        “Google can either be a content provider orca common carrier.”
        (Maybe) Should be:
        “Google can either be a content provider or an Orca.”?
        (I think an orca ate my sarc tag…)

    • Hate, as defined today, is in the eye of the one feeling hated.
      Skeptics feel the hatred of your community quite strongly.

      • Sounds like the new, PC version of sexual harassment.
        If the woman says she feels harassed, then she was.
        You don’t know until after the fact what actions are legal and which aren’t.

      • Good for goose, good for gander.
        Note that the equivalent of Griff is not permitted to exist at the hater sites.

    • Griff, I KNOW that desmoblog is a hater site,because they have been smearing skeptical scientists over bogus or flat out lies on funding claims,

      They also tend to employ the personal attack angle on them too,trying hard to convince gullible readers to ignore them.

      You have no idea how bad they are.

    • On the other hand for YEARS here you’ve claimed the story that light blocking insulation

      mixed into a cold bath conduction chilling an object

      makes sensors detect and depict more and more light reaching, warming, and leaving the rock,

      the insulation’s making LESS light reach, warm and leave,

      is NOT suspect and is NOT a violation of Conservation of Energy.

      So – you don’t have the intellectual capability of correctly answering ”What happens to the temperatures of light-warmed rocks, 20% less light warms?”

      correctly.

      Which means of course you’re too stupid to identify a violation of Conservation of Energy

      in a story about less and less light warming a light-warmed rock.

    • Following Harvey, Irma and Jose, I expect that the blogs with the climate change sceptical inclination are going to come under a considerable agit-prop pressure of various intensities from the subtlest to a very crude.
      Crude attacks are unsophisticated, rudimentary, easy to detect and deal with.
      More sophisticated ones are far more difficult to recognize and unless one has been exposed to similar methods (employed by various secret service provocateurs in less democratic societies) it is easy to fall in for. Be aware of ‘newly baked sceptics’ who might for a ‘second or two’ deviate to the extremist terminology returning back to the initial moderate, intelligent and agreeable ‘conversation’.

      • The ending of a 12 year hurricane drought is only a sign of a climate catastrophe to the type of peopke who believe in UFOs.

      • Because you know, hurricanes are not normal. They never occurred before and they break and flood things because I don’t drive a Prius.

    • I contribute to the low Google-referred percentage at WUWT and drroyspencer.com due a reason other than liberal viewpoints. I visit WUWT multiple times a day and drroyspencer.com daily and I go there directly without Google. When I visit an alarmist site, I am more likely to get there by using a Google search on a particular issue, because I often need Google to find one that mentions that issue since there are so many of them. And I do get hits for WUWT and judithcurry.com when I do a Google search on a particular climate issue.

  2. Raises the question Leo about ethicaly investing in this company but I totally get it when it comes to income and dividend.

      • @commiebob
        The EU last month levied a US$5 billion fine against Google for doing precisely what Leo is showing. That’s serious mullah capable of affecting Google’s bottom line/share price.

        I’ve cut all my ties to Google and based on feedback suspect that I’m not the only one to have done so or thinking of doing the same. Fact is there are viable alternatives.

      • In one sense, you could say Leo is putting his money where his mouth is: Exposing himself financially if his position is wrong.

        On the other hand, it raises the potential that this article could be considered an attempt to manipulate the share price and therefore make money from his stock position.

        The fact that Leo has declared this is absolutely right and proper and he is to be highly commended for this disclosure.

      • Hi commieBob……just my pennies worth – IF I were to be trading Google anytime soon, I too would be on the bearish side of any trade bias.
        So, I think Leo is totally ‘logical’ in his view.
        PS….like your view on things by the way….keep it up.

    • Ever notice that people doing evil have the motto “Do no evil”? One should automatically be leary of sites and organizations with the terms “fact check”, “truth”, “honestly”, “natural” in their names or mottos. If you have to put these terms in the name of your website or company, to me it indicates you are none of these terms. Honesty should be apparent by the product or the content of the website. If your buyers and readers are too uninformed or foolish to know these things, labeling your site for them does not help. They’ll buy from anyone with the “correct label”. No wonder pseudoscience is king these days.

      • Hi Sheri. It’s a bit like all “Democratic Republics” are totalitarian dictatorships. They need to advertise their virtue with verbiage when the reality disagrees.

      • Right. It’s like “Planned Parenthood” and “Community Organizer”. These terms, and other leftist organization terms like them (presumably promoted by Google), connote benefits to society, whereas the actions behind them are highly destructive to society at large. For example we had a “Community Organizer” as POTUS for 8 years. In the last 5-6 years of his office and into today, have you ever seen so much resultant equality/racism discontent and angst. This country could not take have taken another 4 years of community organizing, or gross lying, dis-ingenuity, and conceit (Hillary of course), lest it be torn apart.

      • Or “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie so chock full of propaganda it spilled over onto the marquee in the form of begging the question.

      • On “truth”. I think that some people don’t understand what “true” means. It’s either that, or they understand what it means, but they don’t think that it’s as important as their cause. Or maybe they’re just confused.

        When I see someone talking about “my truth” as in “I know this is true because it’s my truth” in spite of all the evidence that proves incontrovertibly that it isn’t true, then I think that they probably know that their “truth” isn’t, but they believe that it should be true and they are emotionally attached to their beliefs. Or maybe, being kind, they’re just a bit confused.

  3. It is evident there is a hand-picked component in google search hits, and alarmists do appear to play games in order to improve those rankings. But it is not only so. It is also evident that climate alarmism just is a penetrating feature of this time, and thus the bias is to be expected.

    When they say reality has a liberal bias, you could interpret it also as “end-is-nigh messages are very popular these days”.

    • I have as well, but can you tell me if their browser is DuckDuckGo’s own, or as I suspect that they use Yahoo’s browser. I have asked them about it but they have never responded. That tells me they do and Yahoo’s browser has never been known for anything but liberal bias–IMHO.

      • You can install DuckDuckGo into Safari as the default search, as I did. That way you don’t use their browser, you use your own and it just reports DuckDuckGo results. I think that works for other browsers as well, but Safari for sure.

      • I have been using Brave for a few months. It just recently added spell check. Over all it is pretty good. But it tends to lock up more quickly than other browsers. But as long as you restart your browser once a day, it is a good alternative.

  4. Google is a publicly listed company and as such falls under regulations that allow any shareholder to introduce a resolution that must be sent to all shareholders and voted upon. Even holding one share gives a person standing to do this. It is time for a well-worded resolution, or maybe more than one, to be proposed that state the shareholder’s interest is not served when company executives use company assets to advance their personal ideological preferences and thereby tarnish the Google brand from one best known for “search” to one best known for “bias”.

    Should such a resolution reach the stage of being sent to all shareholders, that alone would be a strong rebuke to management.

    The company motto is “don’t be evil”. That does not compel management to always seek to do good. You cannot understand and thus avoid evil unless and until you understand what righteousness is. I have never heard any Google executive even use that word let alone indicate they understand what it implies.

    • There are alternatives to Google and their “products” and “services”.

      Search Engines: Duck, Duck, Go.
      Browsers: Firefox, Opera…(many others)
      E-mail: Outlook, Facebook…(many others)

      Other things you can do to De-Google your life:

      * Do not purchase Google/Alphabet home products, including hardware like the NEST thermostat. Especially beware of the Google Home unit, which basically allows Google to spy on you 24/7!!
      * Close your g-mail account ASAP. Google have demonstrated recently that they can destroy your e-mail for no apparent reason. In addition, g-mail has been subject to high profile hacking, making your “private” e-mail very insecure. Plus, they scan your private e-mail for profit, an egregious invasion of privacy.
      * Do NOT use any “cloud” services supported by Google, including Google Drive, Groups, etc. Again, once you upload your IP, it is no longer “yours” – it’s on their server! Instead, purchase a 4 TB hard drive, and store all of your personal files there. Be very cautious about content you upload.
      * Do not upload to Google-owned services like YouTube. Again, Google has been abusive about who can monetize their videos and who cannot. Do not give them that power!

      Also – don’t forget to block the Google search engine from your browser and smart phone, and use tracking blockers like Ghostery to prevent Google apps from harvesting your information as you surf the web.

    • More important, which search engine actually pays attention to items in quotes? Bing and Duckduckgo ignore them. Info.com might use them (they get virtually the same results as Google anyway). I’ve tried others—only Google seems to pay any attention at all to what I put in quotes.

      • PS Harder to change what a book says the past was (temperatures etc.) than what a website says.
        Websites tend to only have the current version of the past.

  5. I don’t understand this explanation. Can somebody reformulate this (ELI5) this or give an example?

    >The effect is that percentage of net traffic that domains receive from Google Search tends to be similar
    across web domains! This fact is illustrated by nearly zero correlation between domain popularity and percentage of net traffic it receives from Google […]

    • It should mean when I search for stuff, the percentage each site appears in hits people use is related to their traffic. But this is not true with respect to individual words. Cheap hotel Mumbai is taken by different sites than Alabama Climate Realists.

      Not all words are as important, so some sites get hits from important keywords, where some others only get hits with very specific searches. People have the habit of changing search words until they find what they searched for

    • See above – Duckduckgo.com. Been using it for years. It is not only unbiased but also does not track your searches and collect data based on your requests.

      • Nor does it find useful results very often for me. I have tried and tried to use it, even recommended it, but I still end up at Bing, Google or Info (or all three) because Duck just cannot produce useful results. It may be my searches are different than most—I’m rarely looking to buy things, mostly to want information, but Duck just does not find what I need.

      • I’m with Sheri here. I’ve been using DDG as my primary search engine for a few weeks now. For finding the obvious, it is fine. But for finding the obscure, I still find myself going to Google and getting better results. I’ll do what I can to reduce my utility to Google, but I am not going to penalize myself by avoiding it altogether.

        I do need to find an alternative to Chrome. What a memory hog! I left IE behind years ago. Was happy with Mozilla/Firefox until they unjustly shoved their CEO out over his political views. Started using Chrome at that time. I might have to go back to Firefox as the “lesser of two evils.” Actually, now that I think about it, there is Pale Moon, which I used for a while. Maybe I should go back to it.

    • Yes, Duckduckgo seems OK but somehow has a clunky feel for me.
      Another one that’s very fast and much more ‘Google-like’ and familiar, is Yandex.com

      Try doing a search on “google bias” in Google, Duckduckgo and Yandex.
      Very different results.

      As for Browsers, I’ve been running Iron for quite a while now.
      It’s Chrome but without the intrusive tracking etc. It works well and uses Chrome extensions as you might expect.

  6. 1 – We have this story from 2014 that has WUWT as the world’s most viewed climate site. One wonders how all those readers manage to find the site.

    2 – There are other search engines, DuckDuckGo being an example. Is there any way to tell how they treat skeptical and conservative sites?

  7. There might be a relatively simple answer.

    Governments largely exist to address the needs of the market. Search engines get their values largely from government values not market ones, so they also tend to favour things that support the views of those addressing the needs of the market, not the views of those generally within the market itself.

    Making google less biased would mean addressing values in government, which is what democracy is supposed to be about, however how this is actually done within the technological and information universe is Both relatively new and complicated.

    • A simple answer requires more information.

      For instance, websites using WordPress in relation to websites which are not dependent on restrictive programming.

      WordPress.com sites are restricted in terms of their capability to expose metadata for web crawlers. If the web crawler can’t find and report the page metadata to the search engine, the search engine is then unable to deliver comprehensive results.

      • Comparing NASA.gov to WUWT.com in terms of functionality isn’t logical. Drawing conclusions without an understanding of the site functionality reminds me of conclusions based on climate models where there isn’t any understanding of model functionality.

  8. Time for a class action law suit!

    Google has had an extreme liberal ideology bias for years. During Obama’s push on the Affordable Care Act I searched for the bill with google. I was using the exact title that my Senator had given me. When I could not find it the next day I tried again, no luck. The senators aid said :Try other search engines like Yahoo,” there it was on the first page, To see if they were hiding I tried Google every day, Finally after about 10 days it showed up. If you are searching for anything that does not support the Google ideology on Google you’re wasting time.

    • I think Google’s “bias” is protected by the 1st amendment. Sort of ironic, I will admit.

      Interesting to compare to the bias in the scientific literature, where it’s hard to get shoddy research accepted.

  9. What worries me recently is how often when you want to go to a conventional site and the first 5 listings are either advertising or just not the site they appear to be , because they have paid to be at the top but without indicating they are actually an ad. Didn’t used to be like this.

    Often now you have to go down 6 or 7 listings just to get what used to be and should be at the top.

    • On my Mac the ads at the top of search results are labeled as ads.

      Not using Google for searching doesn’t hurt Google, it just reduces the burden on their servers. Just don’t click on its ads. (Hmm … but maybe Google gets paid if you buy something from a site you found after a search (?).)

  10. I don’t care because I’ve stopped searching for websites on any search engine and I already know which websites I visit.

  11. Use Microsoft “Bing”.
    Do comparison searches between Bing and Google.
    The photo of the day feature is wonderful.

  12. Google as a source of information has become useless. They are undermining their own brand as a “search engine”. I cannot count the number of times when doing a search and the results have nothing to do with the keywords, even with the verbatim method. There has always been worthless results but now it is the norm, page after page in the results. The use of “And” or “+” or other qualifiers also has no meaning. Even “-” rarely works. No longer does there exist any way to tailor a search, and therefore Google is utterly worthless as a “search engine”.

  13. Maybe I’m confused, but I think there may be other interpretations for the PGSTN metric.
    Perhaps most readers of WUWT do not need google to find it for them and they come back daily like I do
    whereas some of the other sites mentioned might get one accidental visit from me thanks to google and never see me again until I forget I’ve been there. That means I add 0 to the WUWT PGSTN and occasional bump the PGSTN of the other sites. Keep up the good work.

  14. Anybody who continues to use Google as their search engine or ad provider is simply contributing to progressive indoctrination. There are other choices. Use them.

  15. Did anyone else find the first sentence of the abstract to be completely inscrutable? Is it just me?

    What does this even mean?
    “The percentage of domain traffic, referred by Google Search, net of brand searches (PGSTN), tends to be in or around the range 25%-30% for a broad class of web domains.”

    Sheesh.

    Apparently I lack the vocabulary and contextual language skills necessary to understand this paper.

    What I got from this is the author used some type of “tool” to potentially quantify Google’s bias in referring traffic to websites. I guess that’s the point anyway…

    rip

    • ripshin
      September 8, 2017 at 7:02 am

      Did anyone else find the first sentence of the abstract to be completely inscrutable? Is it just me?

      You’re not alone. I also had to read it several times and dip into much of the rest of the abstract before I found a meaning in that first sentence. I can only presume that the writer was so familiar with the paper that the purpose of the abstract (to summarise the paper’s purpose for the reader) was forgotten.

      SteveT

  16. It’s a common tactic to shout down and/or forcibly silence your critics when you have no cogent response to their arguments.

  17. This sort of thing is what will draw government intervention, by the US or EU most likely. The history of the government dealing with telecom and media in general is also rather bad, and Google should try to reform to head off the intervention.
    Imagine the Web run by one’s least favorite set of government bureaucrats, such as the DMV, the IRS, or school administrations in the US (I am sure non-US readers can nominate their own least favorite group). That is what we are possibly headed for.

  18. Interesting analysis Leo.

    Imagine though that Google may simply be following its audience. Rational thinkers are outnumbered many times over by people who can’t or won’t think.

    And imagine the do no evil mindset. It is a short step to flick the switch to stamping out perceived evil. Telling the truth is rapidly becoming a revolutionary act. And we can’t have revolutions, can we? Not when 97% agree.

    • There is a lot of SEO research on Google ranking. Google “officially” uses about 200 parameters to determine page ranking. I guess that unofficially it also uses input from the Democrat Party, EU bureaucrats, the the UN politicians.

  19. Eric Schmidt runs google and he is a total commie. Lock stock and barrel. He is a classic monopolist commie. He was backing Hillary to the hilt (and using Google resources to do it) because he was promised no anti-trust action.

    Mr. Sessions, sir, you’re up! Just start an investigation into Goolag, FakeBook & Twatter, and watch the search results get more realistic.

    • Very true TRM, but Schmidt is even worse than your comments suggest. In the 2012 election season, the Obama “ground game” was enhanced greatly by a team of data miners exploiting Google’s info. After that election, Eric Schmidt formally hired many of that team and, with his own money, formed Civis Analytics to market their “services.” Initially the Civis website, civisanalytics.com, explicitly stated that its political data would be available exclusively to liberal entities. It has now slightly played down that policy, but the bias is still clear. [Click their link – Services > Expertise > Politics & Advocacy] IMHO Google is not just bad, but very close to evil.

      It is easy to install Ixquick or Startpage in Safari and Firefox. The only Google product I ever intentionally use is Google Earth. It’s overlay options tend to “lean left” but it is useful and handy.

    • I think you are referring to the “all other” category that was recently been relabeled hate groups. It’s the new binary system from the Bay Area.

  20. It’s high time we break up Google. The relentless Lunatic Left must be resisted, and de-funded: It’s also high time for an end to all Fed dollars to Leftist madrassas, AKA American colleges and universities. There must be blowback against the toxic, stifling, partisan sanctimony of the Left.

  21. Why is the right so helpless? Why are all the major search engines left leaning? Why does the left, academia, institutions choose Apple over other companies – they are as capitalist and free enterprise as you can get? They are most guilty of child and sweat shop labor practices.

    Leo another informative article but It tells us that those who would want an apolitical internet are doomed to be helpless pawns of clever lefty manipulatiin. Can any one answer my questions? Why can’t the right set up internet search engines to countervail this. How about a set up where websites are automatically classified by volume of traffic and advertise the fact. Can one have charges laid or have an investigation opened on predatory, unfair, business practices?

    Only reporting the sinking of the Titanic if you have means to save the situation is not of any use.

    • I think there are many factors, but persecution of people with centrist and right-of-center views over 8 years of Obama administration is the most obvious one. Persecution was sometimes direct, like using IRS against Tea Party, but more frequently indirect, like threatening corporations who dared to fund or to employ climate skeptics.

  22. Biasing search results isn’t the only thing they are in the dock for. Hoovering up unbelievable amounts of information about you as you live online is their secret sauce. It was thought it would only be useful for marketing purposes but maybe the way things are going political purposes could be served too.

    How to avoid Google if you want to? There are plenty of choices. A good search engine to use is DuckDuckGo. Or use StartPage which uses google but hides from them who is using it. Epic is a popular and easy to use browser that respects privacy. Tor or JonDonym is for those that want even more privacy. Tor has been treated with suspicion due to rumours of being hacked/created by NSA but Jondonym is German based and seems to have a good rep.

    I don’t do anything online that make me worry about privacy but you always wonder what may be used against you in the future by those who see you as the ‘enemy’ given the wealth of information they have on you.

  23. Do a google search for “American inventors” and see the images it brings up. It includes among its most notable luminaries the first female millionaire in the U.S. Madam C. J. Walker, who developed a line of hair care products in the early 1900s. Oh, and they do include Thomas Edison.
    So their built in bias goes well beyond politics.

    • In Google’s defence, other search engines like Bing return similar results.

      I suspect a possible reason is that what would previously have been described as a black person who was also an inventor (if skin color/race was mentioned at all) is now described as an “African American”. Thus white inventors are probably less frequently tagged as “American” than black inventors.
      Search engines really are still pretty dumb.

  24. So the best way to get counted is to have all opinion with no links to outside sources. That explains the observation of liberal bias in the results. It could be the first evidence for global manifestation of personality traits on the internet….or a thumb on the controls in the Bay Area.

  25. Strange that nobody has mentioned yandex.com. It is certainly the non-Google search engine with the best coverage (in many cases actually better than Google). Admittedly the FSB/SVR will probably be tracking what You are doing but that is hardly very scary these days and arguably safer than having NSA/FBI doing it.

  26. Well no shit… Google favors high quality pages over low quality ones. And climate change is real, and so they are going to favor facts and realism.

    • So Google decides what “quality” and “facts” are based on its own opinion rather than user interest, and you’re OK with that? Stock prices are based on buyer interest in the stocks. Would you like Google to determine stock prices based on their own “expertise” instead? If they are so much better at determining quality and facts than the public, why not?

    • WUWT is second most viewed climate related website, behind only NASA’s website. It presents scientific papers everyday on a variety of topics and allows open discussion and debate. It also allows people with differing opinions to join the discussion. Name me one other climate website that has those qualities.

      • You don’t understand, allowing people who don’t agree with the consensus to be heard is precisely why this site is low quality.
        /sarc

    • So any site you agree with is high quality.
      Good to know that you consider yourself the standard by which all others must be judged.
      Yes, climate change is real, it has been going on since the earth cooled down enough to have an atmosphere.
      However the claim that CO2 is the primary driver of this change has been completely refuted.

  27. Unfortunately, the bias at Google is institutional, much like it is at many SV companies, especially the top tier ones. The reason is the emphasis on hiring people fresh out of elite Universities where those impressionable young minds have been polluted with far left ideology presented as ‘for the greater good’. Isn’t this the same methodology that drives Communism and Socialism? If you can’t delude the followers to believe it’s all for the greater good, they won’t follow and if you get them young enough, they won’t know any better …

    • Other possible reasons for SV bias may be their dependence on foreign sales and leaning to “global governance” (anti-Americanism), political pressure from Democrats under Obama government and Californian looneys and moonbeams, and corrupting influence of Al Gore.

      • Leo,
        There can be no doubt that Moonbeam Brown is on the loony side of politics. Unfortunately, he was voted in to power which only goes to show how uninformed and.or gullible most of the residents here seem to be … Plus, we have Pelosi. Need I say more?

  28. Is there any data on how other search engines like Bing do in comparison to Google in regards to climate and politics?

  29. I rarely come to WUWT through a Google search, because I’m always using my bookmark to WUWT. I’m always going to Snopes through a Google search because I’m searching for a topic rather than searching specifically for Snopes’ home page (whatever that might look like).

    • “The percentage of domain traffic, referred by Google Search, net of brand searches (PGSTN) …”
      (Opening sentence)

  30. Leo, it is probably correct that Google downplays conservative claims, but this is not the same as having a “bias” against such claims. There is a difference between “downplaying” something and having a “bias” against something.
    This distinction is important – being “biased” against something suggests you minimize something because it goes against your beliefs or interests, while “downplaying” something may be the natural response to claims contrary to current scientific wisdom. There are many examples that illustrate the difference between maliciously downplaying something (having a bias), and simply ignoring claims the scientific community doesn’t take seriously.
    If you consult the literature on evolutionary biology, you will conclude that there is a strong “bias” against the Lamarckian view of evolution – this bias is simply a downplaying of a view very few scientists support. Likewise, if you look at publications such as Science or Nature, you will find there is “favoritism” towards papers that describe and quantify the anthropogenic aspect of Global Warming.

    • Ah Yes! the pure driven snow of truth and beauty.
      Who could believe that AGW was not going to destroy us all.
      We should not let the weak minded be led astray, like those terrible Lamarckian days.
      The cause is noble, the truth revealed, CO2 is destroying us and we are to blame.
      No error or deviation from the settled science, no jot of inconvenient evidence, no thought of rebellion will mark the perfect algorithm.The wisdom of science will save us.
      As for debate, well, its settled, so there, lets move on to a bright and glorious future.
      Everyone agrees, Google proves this. Why the kerfuffle?

    • Ironically, though people shy away from calling it Lamarkian, stable heritable traits not encoded by DNA sequence are now very well established and extensively researched. “Epigenetics” is the term usually used.

      Back on topic, I am not especially surprised by the claims because the bulk of the MSM probably is anti-Conservative and most definitely is global-warming-alarmist. Given the importance of large-media output in Google searches and rankings, I would not really expect to see anything other than the bias reported here. Quantifying it accurately seems like the biggest difficulty.

      • Good points. But Google also employs (or plans to employ) certain subjectively tinged quality metrics (to downgrade fake news, for instance), beyond the quantitative ones you mentioned.

  31. The Google promise “Google Search service exists to provide the most relevant and useful results to the user’s queries.” This paper and its conclusion shows, ne proves, that this advertised promise is not met. That constitutes false advertising. A class action suit awarding several hundred dollars to each and every past and present google user would be a suitable alternative for Mr Schmidt not spending some time in federal prison.
    Just my opinion.

  32. I googled “global warming,” The first two pages of references appeared to support the climate alarmists’ narrative on climate change 100 percent. That’s enough quantification of bias for me

  33. I began the long & arduous task of decoupling myself from Google a few weeks back. While the smart (!) people debate about whether Silicon Valley should be regulated I’ll be doing the 1 thing I know how to, i.e. stopping my money from flowing to Google. After that I’ll have a hard look at Amazon, Paypal, etc. – ugh, this freedom crap ain’t easy.

  34. My guess is that dailystormer.com was favored because it was a false-flag site run by the Left.

    There is a lot of that going on. For instance, this well-known singer saw people getting off the same buses wearing “BLM” and “KKK” T-shirts, and acting chummy with each other until the news cameras started to arrive.

    One question for the people who did the study: Did you compare other search engines? I suspect that Bing and Yahoo are just as bad. (And I’ve heard from another source that DuckDuckGo is just a front-end for Bing, and that there are doubts about its claim not to track its users.)

  35. Is there a way to avoid google bias by using search terms including + /- or terms used when searching other data bases such as those used by government departments or libraries.

  36. I am astonished to learn that people are apparently using Google to “search” for generic and general terms like “climate change”, or maybe “food” or “music”. Even without intentional bias, this is always bound to be a failure. That’s not what Google Search (or any search engine) is good for, because the answers to such broad-brush questions are always TOO MANY for the user to peruse them all, even with the help of the snippets provided by Google Search. The Internet generally is not very suitable for people who have no idea about a subject to begin with. At least it does not provide instant answers. Could it be that the overhang of Google-induced traffic at alarmist sites is not intentional, but caused by them peddling their goods to the Great Unwashed in tabloid fashion, so that those who google generic layman’s terms will end up with the alarmists, while those (few) that know the subject properly, who will search for technical terms or for an intelligent combination of details, are directed to the scientific-minded sites like this one. I mean, once you have found and liked WUWT, you do not google aimlessly around but either use a bookmark or (like I do because I dislike long bookmark lists) use Google Search to find WUWT and click the link there. As the original poster said already: Asking for specific information does not leave Google much leeway to bias the result. The fault is IMHO with those whose minds are too blurry to even know what the specific information is to find in Google what they need. Google Search is not a teacher, neither a well-meaning nor an ill-meaning one, just a database. What you get from it depends on YOUR skill – it’s not rocket science!

  37. Hmmmm.Let’s see now, what can we do to help you the most? We already know that a well-reasoned and scientific argument would only fall on deaf ears because conservatives don’t want to hear anything that doesn’t match their worldview. Besides, I believe it’s been statistically proven more than once that conservatives like Fox News, the Republican Party, and Donald Trump all have a high percentage of telling lies. let’s face it, a quick tour through YouTube will yield no telling how many examples of Donald Trump saying, “I never said so and so,” with clear, unambiguous, video of a human being who looks exactly like the human being that said he never said that, namely Donald John Trump, saying exactly that.

    I have been following the antics of the GOP organized crime gang since the time of Nixon. I know you think you fool a lot of people, but there are a lot of us who remember every minute ever since Nixon was kicked out of office of repeated GOP and conservative subterfuge to the point that most everyone would consider “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” quite believable compared to any of you. To be fair, there is no doubt that there was a wolf, because the wolf finally ate him!

    So, all of this disingenuous pissing and moaning from conservatives has finally just become background noise. you have to be the biggest bunch of cry babies that have ever lived on the face of the planet Earth. You don’t mind having your bullies at Fox News or Mr. LimpBlab, et al. speak clearly identified and well-documented hate speech and lies through every outlet they can find 24/7.

    So could we maybe tag this with a scientific name? Possibly “projection” but I’m not sure that’s really it. So, let’s keep it simple and in common language.

    I believe what you’re seeing on Google and many other places, is what is often referred to as a “backlash”, often enjoyed by yours truly when watching Wile E Coyote cartoons as a child. It appears conservatives are just like Mr. Coyote in that they keep using the same failed products from the Acme company and never seem to learn anything from it. Newton’s third law is frequently a guest.

    You think, after you finally pulled out the worst idiot that you can possibly find, amazingly worse than George W. Bush, and did not find a way to stop him, and worse, seem to refuse to be making any effort to stop him, a lot of people are catching on to the fact that the set known as “conservative” pretty much contains a majority of nuts. Now, we are aware that nuts are quite easily manipulated with propaganda because they have a tendency to be willfully ignorant, but there’s still quite a few of us old liberal scientists who studied other things, including literature and philosophy, who aren’t fooled by your antics. Unfortunately for you some of the #Trumpanzees are beginning to listen to us.

    Thus, your inevitable downfall is in full swing. And just like a baseball coming in contact with Babe Ruth’s bat, you are headed in the opposite direction now. So I am not surprised that Google has wisely chosen to squelch some of your lies and propaganda and other subterfuge to the point that it’s harder to find because when people use Google they want to find facts, not fiction, unless their intent is to find fiction.

    I believe your use of language especially the English language is sorely lacking. There is not a bias against conservatives, I believe what is going on is people are more interested in reading the truth! But I’ll be honest, over history once Liars have been fitted out into the light of day, the masses tend to eventually turn against them. But I believe the proper terminology should be Google is tending towards finding truth and attempting to eliminate some of the absolute garbage, idiocy, propaganda, corporatist manipulations, and whatever else you have you, the conservatives have been spewing for over 40 years.

    Being from The South, where Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” started a coordinated campaign from that point forward of using dirty tactics in politics as much as possible, I have made good use of my front row seat watching White Supremacists and neo-nazis drive around with their Confederate flags and swastikas on their pickup trucks swearing that they will eventually win the Civil War. It’s major contributors being Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Satan’s own right hand man, Roger Ailes. Thank goodness that two of the three are enjoying the unusually very warm climate at their current location in the afterlife.

    After all, we know the Lord works in mysterious ways, and like we assume he must have used some way to signal the animals to come to Noah’s Ark, it could be argued that Donald Trump is actually being used by the Almighty God to draw The Deplorables out into the light of day so that they can be easily caught on the many surveillance cameras all over the nation now to be identified, rounded up, and since it’s their wish anyway for Armageddon to come, send them on their merry way to really enjoy The Father of Lies, commonly referred to as “The Devil”, or “Satan”, where it’s never, ever, ever, going to be cold and I’m sure Fox News is on 24/7×infinity. Most of the poor rubes will think they are in Heaven until their favorite sports season comes around. Not being able to change the channel from Fox will give them a hint that they ain’t where they thought they was. Poor things will have to suffer watching beer commercials and pretty young ladies scantily clad while realizing that there will be no beer or girls available to them forevermore.

    Seriously? You are trying to use scientific methods to somehow prove that people don’t like you, right? Why? All you have to do is talk to anyone who has an IQ of two or more digits and you will find out that people who aren’t stupid do in fact hate conservatives. As much as all of you seem to find hate so useful, us liberals thought we would return the favor. So how do you like it so far? Being hated for just being who you truly are? You don’t need a paper or statistics to know that the majority of the world population has been wise to your con game for a long time and are sick and tired of you.

    This time though, you really messed up. The proof will be coming out soon of what liars and cheaters you are, and hopefully many of you end up prison where you belong. Aren’t you glad us liberals aren’t in favor of the death penalty? Because in the good old days that you seem to love so much, people planning sedition and committing treason were typically hung from the nearest tree, or removed from their prison cells before dawn, taken to the nearest solid wall, offered a blindfold, and then the command to “fire!” would be given to the firing squad. I kind of miss those old days. Just like you have to spray to the kill all the roaches to finally be rid of them, having been raised with a conservative background, I still believe that evil should be destroyed whenever it’s found.

    As far as climate change is concerned, whether you believe what scientists say or not, I have a feeling that the Holy and Just Almighty God is sending us a message buy once again hitting Texas with a terrible hurricane, followed by Florida. Maybe it’s his way of talking to us now. Considering their roles in some of the worst things to happen to America, he’s sending a reminder that he can change the climate anytime he wants to, and I’m afraid conservatives have been so evil that he’s giving second thoughts to flooding the whole surface of the Earth again. my friendly word of advice would be: pay attention this time

    • Well done zealot’s screed, puddin. You do have the view of someone who sees their teeth from the backside (as you have your head so far up. . . ).
      All “truth” is owned by your side? The mainstream media is totally reliable? No scientist has ever gone down a metaphoric rabbit hole on theory? Check your meds or reconsider your “education”.

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