Why search engine optimisation (SEO) is important for political campaigns

Wired reports (with some of the exuberant BE SCARED hype removed):

Epstein’s [research] paper combines a few years’ worth of experiments in which Epstein and his colleague Ronald Robertson gave people access to information about the race for prime minister in Australia in 2010, two years prior, and then let the mock-voters learn about the candidates via a simulated search engine that displayed real articles.

One group saw positive articles about one candidate first; the other saw positive articles about the other candidate. (A control group saw a random assortment.) The result: Whichever side people saw the positive results for, they were more likely to vote for — by more than 48 percent…

The effect held—strengthened, even—when the researchers swapped in a single negative story into the number-four and number-three spots. Apparently it made the results seem even more neutral and therefore more trustworthy…

But of course that was all artificial—in the lab. So the researchers packed up and went to India in advance of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections…

The team 2,150 found undecided voters and performed a version of the same experiment… [with an impact this time] of 24 percent.

Good reasons for political campaigns and politicians to take search engine optimisation (SEO) seriously.

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