Can Rick Santorum Really Fix His ‘Google Problem’?

santorum_500Rick Santorum hates his Google problem. So much so, it’s been reported, that he contacted Google asking them to help him out, perhaps take the site down. But they did not. A Google spokesman actually told the presidential candidate that “content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly.”

And so, Rick Santorum has finally declared what he’s really thought all along about sex columnist Dan Savage, the problem, and Google: Blame Librulz! “I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it,” Santorum told Politico. “If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country.”

Huh? After years of completely avoiding the subject, Santorum first acknowledged his name was associated on the Internet with “The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” when this presidential campaign began. He told Roll Call back in February, “The Internet allows for this type of vulgarity to circulate. It’s unfortunate that we have someone who obviously has some issues. But [Dan Savage] has an opportunity to speak.”

This is likely part of the reason Santorum claimed during this campaign there is a “gay jihad” going on against him, and will be the reason he has a nervous breakdown come winter.

But the gays might claim there was a jihad against them, first, by Rick Santorum. In a 2003 interview with the Associated Press, Santorum tried to argue that consenting adults do not have the right to privacy. He related homosexuality to bigamy and incest. When confronted at a town hall shortly after by a “Proud Gay Pennsylvanian,” Santorum stood by his comments, though claimed they were taken out of context. He also used the term “man on dog” when talking about a few things—including anal sex—human beings shouldn’t be allowed to do. This prompted a horde of Saint Joseph’s University students to walk out on his graduation speech to the 2004 class, among other protests.

But shortly before this happened, Dan Savage created the website, SpreadingSantorum.com, and did his best to make sure it found its way to the top of Google. He allegedly pulled something called “Google Bombing” to make it happen.

What is Google Bombing?

The term goes as far back as 1999, though Santorum’s bomb is likely the most talked about in news circles. It happens when someone creates a website, then his/her followers link to that website with a particular phrase, and if enough people link there, it raises the site’s ranking on Google’s search rank algorithm—which controls the whole world, no exceptions. There are reportedly 13,000 sites that link to SpreadingSantorum.com, while Santorum’s own site only has about 5,000.

When Savage raised the issue to Google Bomb Rick Santorum to his readers, he received over 3,000 suggestions of how to define “Santorum.” On May 29, 2003, after narrowing the submissions down, the current definition was drafted and tons of bloggers began linking to the site, which also redirects from Santorum.com.

SEO?

According to Google software engineer Matt Cutts, the Santorum phenomenon is actually what’s called Search Engine Optimization. This is the use of HTML code, links, images and words and general relativity to up one’s ranking on Google.

Google Bombing is different in that users only link to a site (and usually a random one) in order to gain an artificial result. Google actually worked to change this after a search for “miserable failure” brought up George W. Bush on Google and an image search for Michelle Obama showed an image someone Photoshopped of her as a half-monkey. Google changed the way searches are conducted after these incidents so that results of search queries were, in fact, more relevant.

Because Savage’s site is directly about Rick Santorum, it’s stayed up on Google’s front page when you type in his name.

Santorum Waits Until Now

It makes sense that Rick Santorum would make a big deal about this now that he’s, you know, running for president and all. His “Librul conspiracy” argument isn’t without fake merit, either. You don’t need to look much further than the Drudge Report to find headlines that read “DOMINATE” every time Google is mentioned. Fox News sort of hates Google, too, though their right-leaning hate site Fox Nation basically just copies whatever’s on the Drudge Report at any given time of day, always. As part of the general self-pity mantra, national Republicans have a theory that Google is in bed with the Obama Administration. Although, by that logic, you’d have to argue both Bing and Yahoo are part of the conspiracy…which, uh, why not? Sure. They’re part of it.

In addition to making public statements about changing the way the world’s biggest search engine operates now, Santorum has stated in the past that he’s been dealing with this for eight years. “Savage and his perverted sense of humor is the reason why my children cannot Google their father’s name,” he wrote in a recent campaign email. He referred specifically to an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in which Savage decimated the former Pennsylvania senator.

In response, Savage made a “Funny or Die” video in which he threatened to Google Bomb the name “Rick,” as well. He said he’d take down the site if Santorum donated $5 million to Freedom to Marry, which he cannot do even if he wanted, because then Republican voters would think he’d negotiate with terrorists during his presidential tenure. It’s lose-lose.

Can Santorum Change This?

Probably not. SearchEngineLand.com—a pretty informative website by and for people really “into” search engines—says Google already fixed the “Google Bombing” problem as it pertains to their algorithm. And, as explained in our little SEO trash talk earlier, Santorum’s name still comes up because, even as it’s definitive negative publicity about the presidential candidate, it’s still pretty relevant, as evidenced by this 987-word (so far) blog.

The only way to “solve” Santorum’s Google problem would be to completely remove the website from Google’s index. And that ain’t right. It sets a precedent Google probably doesn’t want to be associated with (once they get rid of SpreadingSantorum, where does all the porn go, huh?) Best case scenario: Rick Santorum takes a weekend course on using computers, then turns on his PC’s “family filter.”

8 Responses to “ Can Rick Santorum Really Fix His ‘Google Problem’? ”

  1. “Fox News sort of hates Google, too”

    Yeah, that’s why they’re teaming up with Google to co-sponsor tomorrow night’s debate. They always join with people they hate to co-sponsor things.

    Such penetrating ‘insights’.

  2. [...] in Court funding fight PhillyClout: Former Controller Saidel to endorse Taubenberger for Council PhillyNow: Can Rick Santorum really fix his ‘Google problem’? WHYY Newsworks: Advocacy groups warn of [...]

  3. DDavis says:

    There’s a great comment on Searchengineland from a company with the same problem. It’s very relevant to this.

    http://searchengineland.com/should-rick-santorums-google-problem-be-fixed-93570#comment-19213

    Doesn’t appear Google will do anything about it.

  4. Yang Henesey says:

    There seems to be a lot of people within the Republican Party that are not very fond of Santorum. It is going to be hard for him to secure the nomination, much less the presidency, without more support from within his own party.

  5. Len says:

    Santorum had a shocking showing in Iowa (shocking from where he was just 6 weeks ago). It doesn’t sound like he has the funding to continue the momentum though. Time will tell.

  6. Cami Hellen says:

    I am not really good with English but I get hold this rattling easygoing to translate.

  7. Arlyne Crellin says:

    hi there appreciate for your post. I enjoy it. In case you want you can check my blog helpyoukeephealthy.com. Hope you can find some valuable info.

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