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Where Rick Santorum’s Online Campaign Went Wrong

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, News, SEO

It’s no secret that Rick Santorum has a Google problem. Search his last name in Google or Bing and the first organic result is a very R-rated definition that has little to do with the candidate himself. Even internet savvy folks find themselves wondering how the anti-Santorum crowd has managed to not only monopolize, but legitimize the new Santorum definition in search results so successfully.

The most recent search for “santorum” has the Rick Santorum campaign page at #2 in organic listings, which shows a considerable jump since a search performed a month ago. Good for him? The candidate’s page is sandwiched between the R-rated definition page sites, with the worst of them ranking #1.

Santorum’s search problem originated nearly 10 years ago, not long after the term Web 2.0 was born. There are many issues that Rick Santorum’s online team faces, not the least of which is the vulgar definition page’s long history as a top result for the term “santorum”.  His team has taken some major missteps in trying to change this. One of the worst tactics Santorum could have used to combat the definition page would be to direct traffic to two different sites.

Unfortunately for the candidate, that is exactly what his online team did. Organic traffic was being directed to both the Santorum campaign site and a separate campaign donation site (as well as of course the number one result, the definition page). The donation site appears to have been removed, but was appearing in search results until at least early January, when research for this article began. By directing potential voters to two different pages with different URL’s, the Santorum campaign was essentially splitting its audience in half. This practice led to it taking twice as long for the candidate Rick Santorum to get into the top organic search results.

Some people will falsely identify the R-rated definition page’s high position as the result of “Google bombing,” but this would be incorrect. Google bombing was used several years ago to link searches for George W. Bush to the term “miserable failure.” The difference here is that George’s name is not George W. Miserable Failure. The Google bombers did not redefine “miserable failure,” which is why Google eventually took action. Many users that are searching for “santorum” are actually looking for the uncouth definition page. Therefore, the definition page has become a relevant result and poor Rick Santorum has very little right to fight.

One can only hope this online blunder will serve as a lesson set in html code for influential figures to bite their tongues offline before it ends up taking a huge chunk out of their reputation online.


About Kerrie Tills

As an SEM Creative Editor, Kerrie brings more than 3 years of experience in internet marketing to TSA. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she was working for a company sub-contracted by HUD when she made the move to LA for better career opportunities. She got her first job in LA working in the field of internet marketing – which she has since developed quite a passion for. Kerrie has had experience working with various industries, including healthcare, retail and communication services.

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2 Responses to “Where Rick Santorum’s Online Campaign Went Wrong”

  1. Alec Green says:

    At least the Santorum campaign is running a paid search ad to ensure their message stays above the *other* Santorum site. Wonder how many sweater vests they have sold?

  2. Darryl says:

    Perhaps this is the real reason why Rick Santorum is so anti-Libertarian. In this Country, individuals are Free to make bad choices and bad decisions. Rick Santorum knew this. However, “Politician” Rick Santorum made a bad choice to attack homosexuals as a “group” and he is reaping his reward. Although he may be correct in his assertions about homosexuality within society, this “message” shouldn’t have come from him. Politicians, like Rick Santorum, categorize people in “groups”, rather than as “individuals”. He made the bad choice to unify one “group” of Americans to come up against another “group” of Americans, thus creating hatred and discord. This doesn’t work in a society where our Founding Documents are geared so much toward the “individual”. You can also see that this is Rick Santorum’s Philosophy towards “groups” by the way he talks about Muslims.

    It’s true that society has been “morally” decaying for many years and People have become morally bankrupt. Our Most Cherished Institutions have been corrupted from the inside-out. The Term “Rule of Law” has become Archaic, especially with those who have the Power and the Resources to “get-away” with committing Crimes.

    However, the “answers” to all these destructive dilemmas facing our society still lie in “Individual” Liberties and Freedoms. The sooner that people realize that it’s NOT the job of “Politicians” to protect the Rights of the “group”, but rather, the Rights of the “individual”, the better off we’ll be as a society. Politicians Divide – Statesmen Unite. And yes – I’m a Ron Paul supporter.


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