Cupcakes Disprove SourceFed’s Claim about Google Manipulating Search Suggest

Let me start by saying this ins’t a long post and that there’s every chance Google manually manipulated search suggest to help Hillary Clinton. However, as I show below their methodology doesn’t hold up.This was the comment I left after their news broke last night.

The reality is that Google Trends does not equal Google Search Suggest. Take the term “cupcake” for example. When I type it in Chrome Incognito mode from Dallas, TX I get in suggested in order: cupcake recipes, cupcake atm, cupcake wine, and cupcake atm dallas. I do not get the term ‘cupcake delivery’ suggested.

However in Google Trends while the top 3 are in the right order, cupcake delivery scores slightly higher than ‘cupcake atm’ and ‘cupcake wine’ in Google Trends and the term ‘cupcake atm dallas’ gets a 0 in the group.


Google Trends shows relative trends of each keyword entered into it. So if you remove ‘cupcake recipes’ and ‘cupcake atm dallas’ we can better see how the other 3 keywords rank. Notice here that cupcake delivery has a much higher score than the other two keywords and following SourceFed’s logic should make it part of the search suggest water fall when I type ‘cupcake’.

Now if Google Search Suggest is based on nothing more than recent search volume then it should be logical that the longer tail a keyword is (i.e. more words/characters) the more correlated Google Trends is to Search Suggest. However, that is not the case. If you type in “Cupcake De” you should get a handful of suggestions for me I got in order; cupcake delivery, cupcake delivery dallas, cupcake decorating, and cupcake designs.

Following logic that Trends should be highly correlated with Search Suggest we should expect to see the trend ratings in that order, but we do not. In fact the highest rated keyword in this group is one we have yet to see; Cupcake Decorating.


All of this to say that Google Trends does not equal Google Search Suggest. It very well could be that the searches that spiked are viewed less important on other factors. One of those factors could of course be human manipulation, but it could also be a variety of other things.

Btw. if you want to get real trippy with search suggest. While in incognito mode type “cupcake del” and see if the waterfall shows you city names near your location. If it does click to another incognito tab, type a query, then switch back and the search suggest should change to different delivery related queries.

Joe Youngblood

Joe Youngblood

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Joe Youngblood is a top Dallas SEO, Digital Marketer, and Marketing Theorist. When he's not working with clients or writing about marketing he spends time supporting local non-profits and taking his dogs to various parks.

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  • I’m very “pro-cupcakes” so I give this article 4 out of 4 stars. Nice Joe.