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A new report has found that the BBC could be helping to boost the visibility of the Conservative Party online.
According to an analysis of website data by the digital marketing agency rebootonline.com, Labour receives 2.5 times fewer links to their website from the BBC than the Conservatives.
Whether this is inadvertent or not, the broadcaster is helping to amplify the Conservatives. Indeed, for one, the BBC is directing far more people to the Tory website than Labour’s.
And, in turn, this boosts the Conservatives on search engines.
According to Naomi Aharony, Managing Director of rebootonline.com and SEO expert: “Links from online news outlets to political party websites have a powerful effect on the Google rankings for search terms.
“Ensuring your site ranks near the top of Google search is one of the most valuable weapons political parties have in this election as it means searchers are more exposed to your viewpoint over another competing party.”
Perhaps less surprisingly, the Tory website is also favoured among other online news outlets, not just the BBC. According to rebootonline.com, the news outlets they analysed were 150% more likely to link to the Tory party website than the Labour site. This includes the Guardian, which has posted nearly twice as many links to the Tory site.
Of course, we don’t think this implies an active bias on the part of news publishers. Many of these articles will have been critical of the Conservatives – certainly those published by the Guardian.
But it does show that news outlets need to be aware of the subtle, seemingly harmless ways that they can prejudice one political party in favour of another. Especially when the digital space is becoming more and more important in election campaigns.
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