With the US presidential election hotter than ever, Google’s program to give the major candidates valuable yet entirely free space in its search results wasn’t used by either campaign for the past week. The Hillary Clinton campaign finally began using the space again today, while the Donald Trump campaign has yet to resume.
Free space for candidates, provided by Google
The space is provided through a program that lacks an official name but is commonly referred to by those outside Google as Google Podium or Google Posts. It allows both of the major candidates to have whatever they want to appear in Google’s search results in response to a search for their names.
Here’s an example of how it looks for a “Hillary Clinton” search:
I can’t show an example for the Trump campaign because it hasn’t posted within the last seven days, for some reason. The section only shows posts from the last seven days. Trump’s campaign has used the program in the past, like this at the end of September:
When I was checking on search results for both candidates today, I noticed that the special section was missing for Trump results. That made me think perhaps the Trump campaign had stopped making use of the feature. After all, it has done that before. It had a six-month gap between posts — from March through August of this year — before resuming at the end of September.
But digging further into the issue, I noticed that both the Clinton and Trump campaigns stopped posting at nearly the same time earlier this month.
Space goes unused for a week
The Trump campaign stopped posting as of October 9. The Clinton campaign stopped posting as of October 10, until it resumed earlier today (and for the record, the resumption happened before I contacted Google or either campaign about this story). You can see all the posts from both campaigns here: Clinton and Trump.
Here’s a side-by-side of the latest posts by both:
Clinton’s campaign has been far more consistent than Trump’s in posting, though it also had a large gap from April through mid-June.
I’ve asked both campaigns for comments but have yet to hear back. My assumption is that neither campaign sees making use of this free space as essential and likely doesn’t bother with it at times.
If so, that’s extremely odd. Both campaigns appear to be running paid ads on Google (Clinton for “Hillary Clinton” and Trump for “Donald J Trump”). It’s strange they would spend money on paid Google listings but not take advantage of getting free ones in a guaranteed space.
As for Google, it gave me this statement:
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have access to this experimental search feature and have used it in the past. Posts appear for 7 days and if there is no new information shared, the carousel will not appear in Search until they post again.
In short, if you don’t see candidates with posts appearing in that area, that’s down to their campaigns, not Google. It’s still running the experimental program as usual.