The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
-Roger “Verbal” Kint aka Kevin Spacey
This is an example of the downfall or the positive side of Google’s shift to real time search results. I guess it all depends on where your political views land. To me though the recent attacks on Ted Cruz around allegations that he has had extra-marital affairs, has done something fantastic for Donald Trump. Outside of the political space it’s impacted his digital brand, in an extremely positive way.
Donald Trump who has had his own affairs, Marla Maples being one of the more well known ones, just performed a great SEO trick. Looking at search results for “Donald Trump Affair”, or similar searches, just got overtaken by results for Ted Cruz and the allegations coming at him. It also highlights an issue with Google’s push to more real time search results. As an example the search results which may be current, and present the most recent news, also ends up suppressing sometimes the balanced side of an argument.
I get it. Google can’t always provide a set of fair and balanced search results. However when it comes politics, historical news, or other related results, Google fails. Another recent example would be the recent resurfacing of OJ Simpson’s murder trial. Search results are filled with more recent results that include the new TV show that is currently playing back the murder trial.
Google is broken in a way in which it’s drive for relevancy today, has forced us to forget the historical past. Donald Trump and his current political aspirations have managed to push to the bottom or completely out of the search results historical information about Donald, and not just Donald but the other candidates as well. A well formed search engine should enable a historical snap shot of the search results 5 or 10 years back. As Google becomes the gateway to information, the saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” by George Santayana becomes even more true.
We take for granted the instant and most current news that is presented to us, but we forget the historical balance. Donald Trump’s most recent salvo has made it so that people will forget or make it harder for people to search for his own past indiscretions. Which I’m sure will come up again if he wins the primary’s and runs against Hillary Clinton. It will be a case in which he calls out Bill Clinton’s affairs, but also a case in which his own indiscretions will now be buried below recent news and content. To be honest it’s a brilliant and masterful move, as it covers of his PR and perception in the current media, but it also sets the deck in his favor going forward and across digital channels by fixing his negative PR in SEO searches.
The last thing this illustrates is how futile SEO to rank on positions has truly become. As real time updates and information changes search results faster, trying to get to a number one search result isn’t relevant. Instead as I’ve always thought when it comes to SEO you need to look at the site experience. to focus on not driving traffic but on how to better convert traffic from SEO. To manipulate the search results these days with any true meaning, you need to not focus on your inbound links or title tags or other traditional ranking factors. Instead you need to focus on your ability to manipulate mass media, meaning social, news and PR. Relevancy when you have moments of crisis are driven by timing and media manipulation. All the rest of the time you’re likely better off focusing on how to convert your SEO traffic more than how to drive more SEO traffic. SEOs can all take a lesson from Donald Trump. If you’re looking to change your search results, don’t focus on a single ranking, focus on your brand perception, and how you can broadcast it to change the entire search set across all rankings to change your brands perception. Making changes like this don’t just drive traffic, they’ll drive a change in brand perception and ownership.