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17 Jun

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Your Advice for Pres. Candidate’s Google Problem?

June 17, 2011 | By | No Comments

“Google Santorum” The phrase was emblazoned on a t-shirt I saw recently. As a socially liberal native of Pennsylvania, I knew exactly what this reference to former PA Senator Rick Santorum meant. To be honest, I was very surprised to learn that the “Google problem” was still an issue for the now-presidential candidate.

It started ages ago, in 2003, when columnist Dan Savage responded to one of Santorum’s anti-gay comments by attaching a decidedly unflattering definition to the word santorum. Savage went on to launch a website that defined the term and, according to political news site Roll Call, used extensive linking to keep it near the top of search results.

I leave it to you to decide whether to view the search results for Santorum or Rick Santorum—frankly, the definition that appears is gross. And it appears at the top of the first page of results, above the unpaid result for his official campaign website.

We could argue all day about the rights and wrongs of the whole ugly situation. But I can’t help but wonder: what has the candidate been doing to create a positive online reputation? The unflattering definition and website have been around for years. Other than sponsoring paid ads for his own site, it doesn’t appear Santorum has been implementing tactics, like publishing his own content, connecting with bloggers, etc., to change the results. In the Roll Call article, Santorum ally David Urban said of the situation: “You can bury anything on the Internet. But at what financial cost and at what political cost? You can bury a bad story. But how do you bury your own name?”

Do you agree? What would you recommend to Santorum if you were his social media advisor?

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