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Which publisher won the first presidential debate in Google?

On Monday the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took place. Over 80 million people tuned in to see it, setting a new record in the sixty year history of televised presidential debates. Also on Google the search volume around the debate was high. The search volume was above 10 million searches and also a clear peak is shown in the Google Trends Graph below.

More than 10m searches for topics around the presidential debate in Google

High search volume for topics around the presidential debate on Google

This background makes it even more interesting to analyse how the publishers performed in Google around the event. We analysed the Google News One Boxes for Desktop and the News Carousel/Tops Stories or AMP carousel for mobile with the Trisolute News Dashboard. We analysed a keyword set of seventeen keywords around the topic for a three days period in order to view pre- and post-event developments and rankings. The full keyword list is shown below.
The Google News One Boxes are relevant for the publishers as they normally appear in the first place of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). We see an example in the screenshot for the keyword “presidential debate”.

screenshot of a Google search on the topic presidential debate

News One Box in first position for the search topic presidential debate on desktop

If the visibility in the Google News One Box for desktop is concerned the three places on the podium are relatively clear. is the clear winner for the news boxes with 13.1 percent. This is a clear lead before the second, the with 8.7 percent. was able to gain the third place with 5.3 percent. These three publishers were able to put a certain distance between them and the rest of the top ten publishers.

The top ten for the desktop results look as follows: and have highest visibility in Google for the topics around presidential debate, and cbsnews. com on the podium in Google News One Boxes for a keyword set around the presidential debate

So publishers like,,,, and were able to enter the top ten. They all performed relatively the same with results around 3 percent visibility in the news boxes and a little bit above. We nevertheless want to highlight the result as part of it is probably due to the nice and smart way of realtime fact checking at they have done.

One only gets the full picture which publisher was strongest around the searches for the keywords around the presidential debate if the mobile search results are also considered. We focussed for this analysis on the News carousel/Top Stories carousel or AMP carousel as it is probably better known already. You see a screenshot with one example below. We analysed our News Dashboard data mobile SERP for the same keyword set and the same time period as for desktop SERP.

For news topics Top stories carousel often is one first position in mobile SERP

Top stories carousel or AMP carousel is first result in mobile search for keyword presidential debate

The results for mobile are as follows:

The percentage is a bit lower than for desktop but again is first with 7.0 percent visibility. Second place for mobile goes to with 6.2 percent and third place to and which have been strong on desktop are also in the top ten for mobile but “only” in the group of followers like,,, and

cnn also winner for mobile, differences on the second and third place also first on mobile, second and third in mobile Top Stories carousels


We also did two daily analyses for the keywords “presidential debate” and “election debate” for the desktop results. The results are quite remarkable as they are very different.

As the keyword “presidential debate” is concerned there were a bit more than a handful of publishers ranking substantially in the Google News One Box for the debate day. Again and relatively clearly dominate the first and second rank in the box., and the were also present with several ranks during the day beside some short rankings of the other named publishers. and as winners, runners up are, and and clearly dominate the news boxes for the keywords presidential debate on the debate day


Our second daily analysis focusses on the keyword “election debate” and the results vary a lot. For this keyword has the first rank over most of the day. Also publishers like,,, and rank in the Google News One Box for this keyword. So nearly all ranking publishers for this keyword are non-US publishers and especially the and the are publishers also seen strong in our former analyses.

Several publishers ranked for election debate:,,, smh.comau

Non-US publishers are strong for the keyword “election debate” with and being strongest overall.

A short summary of the results for the publisher’s visibility in Google around the keyword set for the presidential debate: was clearly the strongest publisher both on desktop and mobile. and did well on the combined results. is stronger on desktop, and were only relevant in mobile search.

The differences in the Top Stories carousel/AMP carousel are smaller than in the desktop results. One reason for this is the much bigger mobile carousel (most of the times 10 positions) instead the typical three positions in the desktop Google News One Box. So the publishers have more chances to be in the carousel. Obviously the position in the AMP carousel matters very much for the final traffic the publishers gets from its ranking.


Set of Keywords “presidential debate”:
candidate, debate 2016, debate 2016 live, debate time, donald trump, election debate, gop, hillary clinton, hillary rodham clinton, mike pence, political party, poll, presidential debate, presidential debate 2016, presidential debate schedule, presidential debate video, tim kaine.