Spreading Santorum. Over and over. Poor Rick Santorum cannot outrun his namesake search result, which no doubtedly renders conservative net-surfing grannies looking for info him apoplectic when they land on Dan Savage’s neat web site dedicated to a redefinition of the 2012 GOP Clown Car occupant’s name into something…er…unpalatable. What campaign brain told Rick to call up Google to try to “fix” this problem?

HuffPo linking from The Politico:

Google, responding to either Santorum or Politico or both — again, it’s not clear who — says that it does not “remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines,” and that it’s up to the site’s webmaster to remove the site itself.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Evan McMorris-Santoro speaks to a search engine expert, Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand, who points out that Google has taken steps to get politicians out of harm’s way of a “Google bomb.” Yet Sullivan says that’s not what’s happening here:

In a classic Googlebombing — which Google did crack down on when it was used to tie searches for “miserable failure” to George W. Bush back during the Republicans administration — pranksters tricked Google’s algorithm into sending (for lack of a better term) the “wrong” results for a search. An example could be you entered “apple” in the Google bar and got back a page about bananas thanks to people purposefully tricking the algorithm.

“Google said ‘we don’t like people kind of spraying graffitti all over our results,’” Sullivan said of the Googlebomb. “So they instituted a fix.” Basically, an improved algorithm was rolled out that could combat the Googlebomb practice.

This is not what happened to Santorum, Sullivan explained. Savage literally created a new definition for the word “Santorum” and then made a website explaining it. That explanation has become accepted and — “in some quarters,” Sullivan said — a topic people actually go searching for when they enter santorum into Google.

One of the reasons the “Spreading Santorum” site ranks so high on Google is because Savage’s site has thousands and thousands more inbound links than Santorum’s official site does.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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