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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Truth About the Taylor Swift, Jets Game, Google Search Conspiracy Theory

Taylor Swift, as WIRED has reported in the past, rules the internet. She’s one of the most Googled celebrities in the world. Her search engine optimization, or SEO, in industry parlance, is on fire. She’s a Tumblr kid turned titan of industry (her Eras Tour, after it broke Ticketmaster, made billions) who is even capable of bringing Apple to heel. If we were ever to do one of our Autocomplete Interviews with her, the top questions would probably be something like “Does Taylor Swift have a boyfriend?” or “What is Taylor Swift’s net worth?” or “What happened between Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss?”

This week, though, the results for “Taylor Swift jets” look very different than they would have a month ago. Why? Last Sunday, Swift and a bunch of famous pals like Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and Shawn Levy were spotted at the New York Jets game. Previously, searches related to Swift and jets would have turned up results about the Grammy winner’s use of private jets and those jets’ carbon emissions, leading some folks (OK, Vulture) to ask: “Did Taylor Swift Attend a New York Jets Game to Detract From Her Private Jets?”

No one will ever know if Swift went to a Jets game specifically to shift the SEO for “Taylor Swift jets,” but what is true is that interest in that search is currently the highest it’s ever been on Google Trends. Comparatively, the interest in the search term in summer 2022, when the news was going around about her PJs, has been bumped down to single digits. So if it was a gambit, it worked. Not only are the search results upended, but now TikTok videos about the “genius” move are getting half a million views.

On Tuesday, Britney Muller, a marketing and machine-learning consultant based in New York state, posted on X (fka Twitter) that the move was “a PR Masterclasses” [sic]. It “blew up” more than she intended. That’s partly because most things about Swift draw attention, but also because she is perceived as a mastermind, someone who would show her face at the football game of her maybe-beau in an attempt to draw search engine attention to the fact that she saw the Jets play rather than news that she reportedly took scores of private jet flights in 2022. (At the time, the singer’s rep denied that all the flights attributed to Swift were hers.)

“It almost feels like she’s the queen on the chessboard,” Muller says. “It’s a possible theory, and if it’s just a wild coincidence, it’s a wild coincidence, but it could also be one of the most calculated PR stunts of all time.”

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

Does Taylor Swift Have a Boyfriend?

Bear in mind, there’s backstory here, which provides other reasons for Swift to be at a Jets game besides juicing SEO. Mainly that she’s rumored to be dating Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, the team that (barely) beat the Jets on Sunday night.

Ever since gossip about the two began to spread—after she was spotted in a private box watching the Chiefs play the Chicago Bears with Kelce’s mom, Donna—there have been wild theories as to what Swift’s play is. Because she can’t just date someone without it being think-pieced to death, speculation immediately arose that her cheering was a ploy to distract from her friend Sophie Turner’s recent breakup with Joe Jonas, a bid to make nice with the NFL, or to tank the Chiefs’ season so her favored Philadelphia Eagles could win the Super Bowl.

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