How the Gun Control Debate is Impacting Search Results

Lately, the news has been chock full of updates regarding the issue of gun control. With the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and the prior shooting at a movie theater in Colorado, the government is now taking another look at gun control for the nation and President Obama has recently proposed more limitations and even what he is calling “universal background checks” prior to private purchases.

Searches for gun control have altered as the public reacts to these occurrences and the subject as a whole.

As recognized by the Washington Examiner, there have been some intriguing searches related to gun control such as “Hitler gun control” and other relative keywords such as “Stalin” and “Guns”. These spikes began to take form once the government began to discuss more laws and restrictions on weapons in society.

The keyword “obama gun control” produces some informative results for December 2012:


“Obama gun control” is searched for about 2,900 times per month and has about 279 million results for the current month and these numbers will be likely to increase as the months’ progress and the issue of gun control is discussed further.

meetthenra-adwords-history is a site that aims to teach its visitors about what they deem to be the extremist leadership of the National Rifle Association and saw a large upturn in its visitation after the leader of the NRA made controversial comments following the December 13 elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

They are currently bidding on the keyword “obama gun control” and in November and December they were utilizing the infamous, brawny, and commanding Chuck Norris as a means to promote their website with the text: “Chuck Norris Fact. He hangs out with a shady bunch of friends. Who really runs the NRA?” There was also a drastic increase in the number of ads being run in December 2012.

For the more generalized but similar keyword “gun control”, we will see some similarities as well as some significant differences:


The keyword gun control has a massive 639 million results in December 2012 and is searched for more than 33,000 times per month which makes sense in light of the news at hand. But since this only shows actual data, it may be beneficial to take a bit of a jump back historically and see side by side how exactly keyword results changed more recently:


As SEMrush historical data unveils, both searches and the number of results changed significantly over the course of the year for the keyword “gun control”. Between November and December 2012, the number of results jumped from 102 million to a colossal 639 million.

Between May and July of last year (the month when the movie theater shooting occurred), the number of results increased drastically and continued a steady climb as the months progressed. This just goes to show that when there is news to be released and it becomes forced upon the public in the form of results.

Moreover, in November 2012, the keyword “obama gun control” had almost 50 million results, and as of December 2012 data now has jumped to 279 million. That’s quite the upsurge, and is a likely result of Obama’s proposed gun control plan.

As the screenshot below displays, is bidding on keywords such as “nra” (to which they are expending a weighty 75 percent of their budget to and drives more than 85 percent of their traffic), and “obama gun control”.

meetthenra-ads-keywords vs.

Another interesting evaluation is in that of two competing websites with completely different goals; one being supportive of gun control actions while the other is in opposition of it. and have both made some significant changes in their PPC habits in the last month, and their search engine traffic has also changed:


First and foremost, we can see that has been rather sporadic with their keywords for the most part, but had a significant jump after July 2012 (the Colorado shooting) and more recently made some very noteworthy keyword increases in December 2012. is countering Obama’s proposition for gun control laws to be stricter and is making an attempt to reach out to those who oppose his suggestions. In December 2012, search engine traffic increased for from 491 to 2,094 and for from 70,463 to 90,856.

Facebook Ads: Gun Control


As Facebook is becoming a prime outlet for advertising, it is interesting to view the ads that correlate with the keyword “gun control”. The very first ad titled “Batman Tragedy: What Now” receives approximately 19,000 unique hits per week and leads the user to a Beta discussion app that specifically boasts the question: will the massacre lead to more gun control?

Another ad specifically mentions the Sandy Hook School shooting but leads to a Facebook page titled Celebuzz and has no immediate mention of the incident upon visiting the page but rather focuses on insignificant celebrity news.

The remaining top ads consist of pages such as Republicans for Gun Control and Washington State for Gun Control, so most are discussion sites that are in backing gun control laws. also employed the use of a single Facebook ad whose landing page directs the clicker to the home page.

The NRA has also very recently released a target-practice shooting app for iOS that allows the player to act is if they are in a shooting range. The NRA defends the app as it attempts to educate the user on gun safety tips and facts, but it also curiously appeared not long after the shooting in Connecticut. In correlation, the public is actually for the term “shooting apps” approximately 140 times per month, and search engine results have increased to 276 million in December from only 167 million in November:


What could the reason be behind there being more results for a keyword such as shooting apps after a devastating occurrence such as the Connecticut shooting? Both Apple and Google are also bidding on the keyword in an effort to promote the various apps that they have available.


As the results indicate, overall interest and searches for gun control spiked greatly in December, and results escalated to an even greater degree.

Evaluating exactly how the public reacts, and what they search for, dependent upon whether the anti-gun violence package proposed by Obama passes will also develop some interesting results.

In considering exactly how results, PPC, and searches for gun control have changed so significantly in mere months, it is safe to say that these changes will only persist as the issue continues to be debated and updates come to light; time will surely tell.

Related reading

Five ways to target ads on Google that don’t involve keywords
small budget guide to testing ad copy, landing pages, and more
keyword research tools you can use for free
Five ways PPC customer support can help SMBs