Tag Archives: search engine performance

Open Borders tops web search for open borders

On June 30, 2014, I noticed that this website (openborders.info) is the top Google Search result for open borders. I verified that this is robust under anonymization, and also posted about it on Open Borders Action Group, where the commenters confirmed my observations. This blog post contains some information about the search performance of the term. Unfortunately, I don’t know how long we’ve been on top for the term. All reported ranks below are as of July 1, 2014, but clicking the links will take you to the current results at the time you click. The ranks you see could therefore differ from the reported ranks. Google and Bing search results may vary by person and location. Dogpile (website, Wikipedia) and DuckDuckGo (website, Wikipedia) use Google Search but anonymize the search query so as not to bias it with the user’s search history or other user-specific information. Results reported for Dogpile and DuckDuckGo should therefore be consistent with each other and stable across persons.

Results for open borders, plain and simple

Search term Google.com Bing.com Dogpile DuckDuckGo
open borders #1 #1 #1 #1
“open borders” #1 #1 #1 #1
open border #2 #2 #3 #3
“open border” #2 not in top results not in top results not in top results

For the open border search query, the result that beats it in non-anonymized search (for me) is the Wikipedia article on open border. In anonymized search, openborders.info ranks #3. It is beaten by the Wikipedia article and U.S. Open Borders.

Some of the commenters on my Open Borders Action Group reported similar results on other Google domains (google.ru, google.co.in) with English-language search queries. Read the comments, or try searching the domains yourself.

How much traffic has this search term driven to the website?

As of July 1, 2014, a total of 1061 visits to the site were from the open borders search term. This is the second highest search term in terms of the number of visits. The highest is pro immigration arguments (1200 visits), for which DuckDuckGo search gives our US-specific pro-immigration arguments page as #2.

Results for variations of the term

For the following variations of the term, openborders.info pages come in the top ten search results on DuckDuckgo:

Search term Rank Page shown
libertarian open borders #2 Libertarian case for open borders
open borders double world gdp #1 Double world GDP
open borders bryan caplan #1 Bryan Caplan
open borders america #4 main page
open borders us #2 main page
open borders israel #6 Blog tag Israel
open borders with mexico #7 Blog tag Mexico

Feel free to suggest other search terms and permutations in the comments, or try them yourself!

Other caveats

  • Search volume for the term “open borders” (with or without quotes) is quite low compared to search volume for other migration-related terms, in particular immigration reform. See a comparison of the search terms on Google Trends.
  • Almost all the top results for open borders, apart from Wikipedia and this website, are critical of open borders. Some of them are critical of open borders as an idea that has not yet been implemented, but many are using “open borders” as a (pejorative) term for the status quo. This suggests that most people searching for the term are searching for something different from what we are offering. It is interesting that both Google and Bing decided to rank us above these pages for the term, even though many of these pages are on sites with higher PageRank (albeit the sites aren’t necessarily that focused on open borders).

Possible implications

  • If this website is able to retain its top spot, then the future fate of the idea of open borders, with all its ramifications, is intricately tied with the fate of this website. To the extent that the idea of open borders catches on, this website will also catch on. In particular, if open borders becomes a big issue for discussion, or ever comes close to implementation, this website is likely to play an important role in the public conversation. The usual caveats apply: it could happen that the way that open borders reaches the public consciousness is through some terminology that is quite different from “open borders”, in which case this website need not play a role.
  • Increasing the brand recognition of open borders as an idea would automatically increase the brand recognition of this website. This makes publicity and advertising easier: rather than having to get people to remember a URL or click on it, we simply have to imprint the “open borders” term into their minds.

Historical ramifications

Back when I was starting the site (see my personal statement for the site for more on the history) I considered names of the “open borders” variety as well as names of the “free migration” variety. I settled on the former because it felt more right. It seems that this was a reasonable choice. Although free migration sees more search traffic than open borders, a lot of the search results there are dominated by companies offering website hosting that promise to migrate your website for free. It would have been very difficult to build a brand around the “free migration” name that was catchy and easy to Google.

PS: I’m in the process of compiling various web and social media analytics data for the Open Borders website. I’ll be uploading the data in the form of Excel spreadsheets both to the Open Borders Action Group files section and to this website. The list of pages that currently have linked Excel files is below: