Is Google Biased? We Analyzed 50 Key Politically-Driven Topics to Find Out

Is Google biased against conservatives? The short answer is not likely.

Based on our data-driven study, we found that 63% of Google’s search results were non-partisan. While 32% of the results came from left-leaning publications versus 5% of results coming from right-leaning websites.

Now you may see 32% vs 5% and think that Google is biased.

But here’s the truth:

The lopsided results are because of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), not because Google’s algorithm is biased.

Let’s dive into the case study.

Google Liberal Bias: Does It Exist?

63% of Results are Non-Partisan

While 63% is almost a failing score in school, it’s impressive that an algorithm can be so effective.

316 of the results were from non-partisan and unbiased websites. Websites that present facts. Not opinions.

This is super important for politically-driven topics where there tends to be lots of misinformation or “fake news”.

32% Left vs 5% Right

While Google’s algorithm presents unbiased information for the majority of the results, it isn’t perfect. As you can see, left-leaning publications received more coverage and visibility for key political topics.

In a perfect world, there would be equal representation for both parties.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Now you might be wondering why? Why are there more left-leaning websites showing up for key political topics?

Well, it’s not for the reasons that you probably think.

More on this in second, but it has to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

But before we get into that, let’s dive into some of these topics a little.

Top 3 Left-Leaning Topics

Topics that had the most left-leaning websites present:

  • “black lives matter” = 9/10
  • “border wall” = 7/10. This one is almost inline with Gallup poll data. 60% of American’s oppose “significantly expanding the construction of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border”.
  • “dreamers” = 6/10

Top 3 Right-Leaning Topics

Topics that had the most right-leaning websites present:

  • “blue lives matter” = 4/10
  • “second amendment” = 3/10
  • “pro life” = 3/10

Top 3 Unbiased Topics

The topics below had the highest number of non-partisan results:

  • “electoral college” = 10/10
  • “gold standard” = 10/10
  • “roe vs wade” = 9/10

Google’s algorithm was effective for these topics. It had almost a 100% success rate in showing non-partisan results for these topics.

Top 3 Topics With Fair Representation

“second amendment” = Left: 3, Center: 4, Right: 3

“pro life” = Left: 3, Center: 4, Right: 3. According to Gallup Poll, 46% of Americans are “pro choice” while 49% are “pro life”, so this was pretty accurate.

“gun control” = Left: 2, Center: 7, Right: 1. The first two results were fair, but after that there weren’t any other topics that had “fair” representation. “Gun control” was the closest.

So at this point, it’s clear that right-leaning websites get less visibility and coverage for key political topics.

But the question is: why?

Why Do Google’s Results Seem Biased (from an SEO Perspective)?

First, let me quickly cover how SEO works. Google uses over 200 different ranking factors for determining what pages should show up any given keyword. These factors are NOT created equal.

But in most cases, pages that perform well in Google have the following characteristics:

1. They are targeting a keyword phrase like “black lives matter” or “gun control”.

2. The page provides detailed information about the topic.  This is referred to SEO content in my world. More often than not, pages that have bigger word counts tend to perform better.

3. The website and target page have backlinks. A “backlink” is created when another website links to your website.

Google uses backlinks as “votes” for a website. The more high-quality backlinks a website has, the better it will often perform. Out of all of the 200 ranking factors, backlinks are one of the strongest by far.

So now let’s look at the data.

Left-Leaning Websites Are Stronger

On average left-leaning websites in this study were substantially stronger than right-leaning websites. By “stronger”, I’m speaking in terms of website authority driven by the quantity of high-quality backlinks.

Here’s the data pulled from Ahrefs:

Left-leaning websites also have substantially more .gov and .edu backlinks.

So without getting too deep into SEO, the primary reason why there are more left-leaning websites outperforming right-leaning websites is because of the volume of backlinks and overall website authority.

But this raises some other questions:

Why do left-leaning websites get more backlinks?

There are a few possibilities:

1. Left-leaning websites are more likely to engage in active link building. “Active” link building is when a company pays a company like mine to acquire backlinks on other websites.

2. There is a greater pool of left-leaning websites capable of linking compared to right-leaning. According to data in this article, the tech industry (who have very powerful websites) leans left.

3. .edu and .gov websites tend to be more left-leaning and therefore or more likely to link to left-leaning sources of information.

These ideas are difficult to quantify, but there’s worth exploring further.

To Conclude the Google Bias Project

So back to our original question:

Is Google biased? Not likely.

Google’s results were surprisingly non-partisan (61%) for key political topics. It’s not perfect and the results lean left, but it’s likely not because Google’s algorithms are biased.

It’s because those left-leaning websites are simply better at SEO.

Now there is one thing that can’t be quantified, but it could make Google results biased in some cases. And that’s the fact that Google’s algorithm is designed and operated by humans. Humans are inherently biased in one way or another.

You must also consider that Google uses over 10,000 humans for manually reviewing the quality of their search engine results. It’s entirely possible that these humans could suppress pages they don’t agree with.

Bias is inevitable when humans are involved.

If you’d like to see all the data we used for this case study go here (no opt-in required).

How to We Conducted the Google Bias Project

The way we conducted this case study was simple:

1. We found over 300 “controversial” topics using sites like ProCon.org

2. We broke that list down and focused on 50 politically-driven topics (see them here). Why? Because political bias is easier to identify.

3. We scraped Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for each topic using the Data Miner plugin for Chrome

4. We then built a list of websites that were frequently showing up for these key political topics.

5. We then categorized each website as either left, center, or right-leaning based on findings from AllSides.com and Media Bias Fact Check. “Center” can also be defined as “non-partisan” or neutral.

6. Then we went through the top 10 for each topic and marked each result as left, center, right, or unknown. This was based on the website’s known political leanings. Not based on the content of the individual page. We made this decision because categorizing each individual result would make the process too subjective on our end.

We analyzed a total of 500 results (50 keywords x 10 first page spots on Google).

Now Your Turn

Were you surprised by this data? Have you seen bias in Google search results? Let me know below.

16 thoughts on “Is Google Biased? We Analyzed 50 Key Politically-Driven Topics to Find Out”

  1. Nathan, please be objective on my question , because tensions in the US are high right now on this subject.
    When anyone “Googles” = “White American Family” = The first image is of a Black Family……HUH?
    But “Googling” = “Black American Family” and “Asian American Family” yield acceptable proper results for their top image.
    As with the “White American Family” search, the images are littered with many non conforming results, in contrast, the other searches yield numerously less non conforming results?

    And how would that bias come from the SEO?

    Reply
    • Hey Charles,

      Thanks for the comment. That’s a very interesting case and I’m seeing the same thing as well. I’ll need to analyze the results deeper to see if there are any SEO-driven reasons.

      One thing I notice right away is that the title and description for those images like this is “joyful african american family isolated on white”.

      So Google is likely pulling “American family” + “white” from that description. The second result from AdWeek (which may be different on your end) also discusses “American families” and “white”. AdWeek has a very strong website so it would make sense that they would be ranking.

      However, I will say overall, the accuracy of Google results based on the intent of that keyword phrase is poor (especially relative to the other searches).

      Is it because Google is manually picking these images? Probably not. It’s more likely that it’s a bad result. Google’s algorithm is far from perfect.

      Reply
  2. Having just left the left and removed the wool from my eyes, I can confirm that Google is certainly biased , whether it’s intentional or not. I strongly believe it is. I also believe they provoked the George Floyd uprising intentionally , I was astonished to wake up everyday and see more articles at the top of my results that were sympathetic of violence and disorder. And instigating negativity towards all police? Only a human can be that delusional. Whoever’s at the top of Google, hates Trump, probably because he’s not a “complex intellectual of moral supremacy”. If I had gone to all the trouble to create a giant search engine , best believe I would leave myself and easily accessed back door to control the results.
    That’s what hackers do. Thank you for the article and you seem genuinely interested in fairness , which is respectable.

    Reply
      • I work online. I see the bias in search results – particularly when I run the same queries through different search engines – you Do know that Google is not the only search engine, right?
        Skipping that entirely – because you can view slant as you wish in terms you hand pick. This really tells us nothing. Publish the keywords so we can replicate the results on our own – and contrast them to what comes up in non-google searches which you appear to not have done.
        Is Google Biased? Absolutely. When the company publishes internally that they “will not permit [2016] to recurr in 2020,” that speaks volumes over the little cheerleading article presented here.
        How does threatenning The Federalist and banning ZeroHedge fit in with you “likely not” assessment of Google’s bias and acts against the American People.

        This is a poor attempt to whitewash egregious acts of censorship and Marxist manipulation of data. You will forgive me if I not add your name to a growing list of Communist Enablers.

        Reply
        • Hey there,

          Thanks for the comment. The Google Sheet with all of the data (including keywords) is at the bottom of the post. This case study isn’t about whether or not Google’s parent company, Alphabet is biased. The case study is about Google’s search results which are dictated by an algorithm.

          Reply
  3. Two points:

    1. What defines “non-partisan”? If you define CNN as such, then it’s easier to reach such results.

    2. “By “stronger”, I’m speaking in terms of website authority driven by the quantity of high-quality backlinks….Left-leaning websites also have substantially more .gov and .edu backlinks.”

    As you partially addressed (but did not quantify or dig more into), considering that there is a notable leftward bias in education & big tech specifically, and (I would assume) govt in general, this is just another way for Google to be biased, without appearing so.

    It would be like a food reviewer stating that they are unbiased, but also that they consider carbs to be disgusting. Would we be surprised when Italian pasta restaurants get lower scores? Could the reviewer defend themselves by saying that “yes, under the system I have established, you can see that we abide by the rules 100% of the time….it’s not our fault if Italian restaurants just happen to serve disgusting food more often!”

    Now technically one could argue that this is technically “correct”, that being unbiased consists of adhering to a fixed set of rules all the time, but it also misses the point, when the rules themselves are designed to support one particular group.

    Reply
    • Hey David,

      Thanks for the comment! For #1, we explained it under “How to We Conducted the Google Bias Project”. All websites were categorized based on results from AllSides.com and Media Bias Fact Check.

      For #2, I agree. I did mention in that part of the article that the tech industry leans left. It’s an interesting point you’ve made. Google does give more weight to .gov and .edu websites. From an SEO perspective, it makes sense because these sites are often the most “credible” (which is always debatable as well). But I get what you’re saying.

      Reply
  4. Google is so wildly liberal and biased against Conservatives, that a google search of google has liberal bias” brings you straight to this pathetic fake news article with graphs meant to make people think Google isn’t heavily liberal and biased. Seriously this off the wall article is at the top of the search. Sad and embarrassingly obvious.

    Reply
    • Hey Jeff, thanks for the comment. While that is probably true about Google (Alphabet) as a company, it isn’t true about their algorithm. The algorithm is built by people (which may have engrained biases). However, they have designed it to be impartial. It isn’t a perfect algorithm. And as I explained in the article, the reason why liberal-leaning publications tend to show up more is because of SEO. Not because of bias.

      Reply
  5. Google! You need to be politically unbiased. You are supposed to be accurate in the information your customers are searching for not show us only what you want us to see! Your are supposed to be like the old encyclopedias. Keep your political beliefs away from your site!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Brenda. I agree Google should show unbiased search results. In our study, 63% of the results came from non-partisan websites. In a perfect world, it would be 80% or more for politically-driven topics.

      Reply
  6. This page is biased. I searched “history of the civil war” on both google and DuckDuckGo, and google yielded results that implicate that it was based on slavery, however my own knowledge combined with DuckDuckGo yielded results that align with what I was taught in school. It’s been known that since 2005 google has a left leaning political bias. This fact check alone proved nothing other than being left leaning aswell. Also that’s not how SEO works.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Ty. We analyzed the results from 50 key political topics and presented the data objectively. Would you mind elaborating on why you believe it’s biased?

      Reply

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