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Santorum's Website After Iowa and his "Google Problem"

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 5 2012

Over at Search Engine Land, there's more baseball-insidery on Rick Santorum's online presence during and immediately after his big night in Iowa.

As the former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator came within eight votes of winning the Iowa caucus, his website's servers struggled to handle the load — but that being the key time to raise money, the campaign redirected traffic to an off-site donation page, sending any capacity problems elsewhere and raising what his campaign has said was $1 million in one day. Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan writes that sending all traffic off-site also hurt his chances of keeping his official site above ones that contribute to his infamous "Google problem."

"... By dropping the web site and pointing everything over to the donation form, it’s as if the Santorum campaign has taken all the 'votes' its earned over the past few months and tossed them all away," Sullivan writes.

The campaign later dropped the redirect and replaced its front page with a splash page to collect donations. I'd imagine that when you're busy bolstering a cash-strapped campaign with $1 million in donations, it's hard to worry too much about page rank dropping for a few hours.

But as more people pay attention to Santorum, more people will Google his last name only — and, as Sullivan notes, the way the campaign is currently handling search means his official site ranks below pages that turn the name into a sexual neologism.

Sullivan offers a solution: Google, he writes, should add a notice to search results for "Santorum," as the search engine sometimes does when search terms are known to return potentially offensive links.

A source close to the campaign tells me Santorum's website will be better prepared for its next traffic spike, should one arrive.