Former Pennsylvania Senator and current Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has become a hot topic of conversation in the last week or so. The long-time bottom dweller in the Republican Primary field has surged in the past few days, thanks to some hard campaigning in Iowa.
And it appears that his work payed off. In Tuesday's Iowa Caucus, Santorum finished in second place, a mere 8 votes shy of off-and-on frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Santorum's catapult onto politics' main stage is sure to make plenty of Americans curious, and when people are curious about something these days, the next logical step is an internet search. But as many of you probably already know, Santorum has a bit of a problem when it comes to search results.
First, a little background for those unfamiliar with this issue:
Years ago, Santorum drew the ire of popular blogger Dan Savage by making some unsavory comments regarding the gay community. During an interview where he stated the position that consenting adults have no expectation of privacy, Santorum equated homosexuality to bigamy and incest. He also made some comments relating homosexuality to bestiality, although he has maintained that the were taken out of context.
Either way, Savage and some other activists were less than pleased. They launched a campaign to redefine the definition of the word “Santorum.” Through SEO tactics and link-trading, they were able to push a website called spreadingsantorum.com to the very top of the Google search results for “Rick Santorum.”
For years, whenever you search "Santorum" in Google, the first thing you see is...
If you search Google for "Rick Santorum," that result is still the third result.
Back in September, Santorum reportedly contacted Google about his little problem. He accused the company of purveying filth and referred to them as irresponsible. Google hit back by basically saying sorry, buddy: "Google does not remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines."
As Santorum seems to be surging in the polls, his Google problem is only growing. And his Google problem is actually a bigger problem because it's not just a Google problem.
Although Google still rules the search engine world, they aren't the only ones who see a large volume of queries on any particular day. Millions of people use Bing, Yahoo, AOL and others. And Rick Santorum has some interesting search results in those engines as well. Check it out (logged out searches) -
A Bing search for "Santorum" puts the unsavory definition at the very top, just under the news box:
And a Bing search for "Rick Santorum" gives us the result farther down, but still well on the first page:
On Yahoo!, we find the same thing. Number one for a search of "Santorum":
And "Rick Santorum" gives us a front page result, a little on down:
Over on AOL, more of the same:
I mean come on, the guy even has a Baidu problem:
His recent success in Iowa suggests that his search result issues failed to nuke the campaign. But if Rick Santorum maintains steam into the primary vote, and then (improbably) a national election, you would think it at least has the chance of doing some damage.
I mean, just imagine your grandmother Googling Santorum right now.