Google searches for bitcoin are going through the roof – could be manipulated
Sep 04, 2019
The price of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency bitcoin has fluctuated a lot over the past week. After first dropping just over eight percent last Wednesday, we have seen a rise of almost eleven and a half percent since last Friday.
This volatility is definitely nothing unusual when it comes to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, but in conjunction with the upturns last Friday, another much more powerful rise also started: the number of Google searches containing the word “bitcoin”.
More searches than during the rally in 2017
The graph below dates from the first of January 2017, just before the big price rally in 2017 began, and clearly shows that the number of Google searches has skyrocketed in recent days.
(NOTE: All graphs in this article are embedded from Google Trends in order for them to be interactive. Unfortunately, Google Trends embeds could sometimes load fairly slowly, so please give the page a few extra seconds to load before trying to update it.)
However, for the sake of clarity, it is worth mentioning that Google’s data is not yet complete, as it turns out that the line in the graph is not yet solid, but still dashed. This may be due to the fact that we are looking at a longer period of time where there has been a significant change only in recent days. When some more time has passed, and if the trend continues, the line is filled and the data is considered to be more accurate.
This is clearly evident if we instead look at what the graph for the same keyword looks like between January 1st of this year and today, September 4th:
Unfortunately, Google Trends does not report the actual number of searches done. Instead, the number of searches is calculated relative to how it has looked in the past, and is then divided on a hundred-degree scale where the value 100 shows the highest number of searches during the selected time period, while 0 shows the lowest number of searches.
All graphs (except the penultimate one) in this article show the global statistics for searches on Google, so it may also be interesting to look at where in the world most searches containing the word “bitcoin” are made.
On the map below, a darker shade of blue means more searches, while a lighter shade means fewer searches. You can also click the little button in the bottom right corner to choose to show the countries in a list, instead of on a map.
Chinese google search the most, but the United States accounts for the biggest increase
According to statistics from Google Trends, the countries China, Nigeria, South Africa and Slovenia top the list of those who google “bitcoin” the most right now. However, these have been at the top for a long time, and if you look at the graphs for the countries individually, the last three have seen a marginal increase recently, while the number of bitcoin searches in China has even gone down.
Thus, there does not appear to be any form of crypto trend in China that is pushing up the number of searches globally.
Instead, it seems to be in North America and especially in the United States that the number of bitcoin searches is increasing the most. Below is a local search trend for the US, but also in Romania, the number of searches has gone up significantly.
What this increased interest is due to is hard to speculate on, and although the ongoing US-China trade war could be an explanation, the number of searches for “trade war” in the US has only increased marginally in recent times.
A broader but perhaps more accurate explanation might be that bitcoin has received more attention in the United States lately.
Among other things, President Donald Trump tweeted negatively about bitcoin as late as July 12 this year, but at that time it does not appear to have had any significant effect on the number of Google searches.
I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity….
It is also possible that the number of Google searches has in some way been manipulated to show higher numbers than is really the case. However, it is impossible to say whether this is true or not, and what the purpose would be other than painting a picture that many more people are interested in bitcoin right now.
SEO expert Per Nilsson says to Trijo News that he has not come in contact with such possible search result manipulation before, but adds that there is a huge upside for slightly more shady companies if they manage to crack the code of how Google’s search volumes can be manipulated.
“Think, for example, if a clothing chain could fake the interest in a new collection before launch. It could generate both media attention and start a new trend around the collection. But among these types of companies, there are not very high levels of technical expertise that would be required. On the other hand, such know-how can be found among companies that would benefit from the fact that the interest in bitcoin is rising sharply”, Per Nilsson says to Trijo News.
Could be troublesome for Google to solve the problem
In practice, Google Trend’s results are not based on the number of searches, but on the number of unique devices that search for a particular topic, Per Nilsson explains.
So it is not enough to build a computer program that googles “bitcoin” a million times a day from a computer. Manipulating search volumes requires control over a very large number of mobile phones or computers.
“In theory, it is possible to use a so-called click farm, but it is more likely that some company with very large technical knowledge is using its users’ cell phones and computers to send search queries to Google. If that’s the case, it can be very difficult for Google to solve the problem.”
However, Per Nilsson emphasizes that it is impossible to say for sure if the search result is being manipulated.
“Google has sophisticated systems for detecting and stopping manipulation attempts, so it’s definitely not possible to establish that this is the case. Of course, it can also be as simple as interest in bitcoin for some reason has increased tremendously over the past week, and that is what we are seeing the effect of now, he says.
The exact search “bitcoin” does not increase
Google Trends divides searches into “Search terms” and “Subject” (where “Currency” is a sub-category). If you do a search on Google Trends and choose to display the search term “bitcoin”, only the exact search term “bitcoin” will be displayed.
Instead, if you choose to display the Google Trends result for the topic “bitcoin”, all searches containing that keyword are included: “buy bitcoin”, “bitcoin price”, “where can I buy bitcoin” and so on.
It is therefore also worth noting that searches for only the word “bitcoin” have not gone up at all in the last week, as you can see in the graph below, which only concerns the exact search “bitcoin”. This could be a sign that search volumes are being manipulated in some way.
Which conclusions that can be drawn from the Google statistics shown in this article are for each and every one to determine by themselves. Clearly, in any case, the number of Google searches containing the word “bitcoin” has increased very significantly lately, especially in the United States.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the trend holds and whether it then will have any effect on the bitcoin price.