Google Juggles Santorum

Google has changed its algorithm and the Spreading Santorum site is no longer on the first page of results, though the first result (after election tallies) is a link to the Urban Dictionary definition of Santorum.

To me, it looks like Google has tweaked their algorithm to favor more recently updated sites, and since the landing page for Spreading Santorum hasn’t been changed for years, it was downranked. Four of the 10 first page links that aren’t news or election results still link to a frothy mix site, so it’s not as if Google is censoring that meaning. My take is that this is no big deal, but I’m a supporter of Google changes that favor more recent sites, because I’m constantly using the Google feature that limits results to the last year or month.

For another opinion, here’s search engine expert Danny Sullivan’s take (via).

53 replies
  1. 1
    Yevgraf says:

    My commerce website rep nagged my ass incessantly to start blogging using their connected feature – it is apparently now standard SEO practice with Google algorithms.

    The results of having the boost from fresh content have been phenomenal.

  2. 2
    c u n d gulag says:

    As you’ll gather from what I’m about to ask, but wouldn’t redoubling efforts get the great Savage’s definition get back up on top (no pun intended)?

  3. 3
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    Spreading Santorum

    Funny, when I google it, I keep getting Typhoid Mary.

  4. 4
    mistermix says:

    @c u n d gulag: My guess is no, unless they change the page to add fresh content.

  5. 5
    rlrr says:

    To me, it looks like Google has tweaked their algorithm to favor more recently updated sites,

    That’s what Altavista did back in the day when it was the number 1 search site…

  6. 6
    Yevgraf says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    As you’ll gather from what I’m about to ask, but wouldn’t redoubling efforts get the great Savage’s definition get back up on top (no pun intended)?

    My understanding is that it will now take many months and a shload of blogging/refreshing efforts – Savage basically spent several years’ worth of algorithm credibility (credibility gained due to early multiple hits and age) by being lazy about the thing and not freshening content like a madman when Santorum became a legitimate primary contender.

    He has only his own laziness to blame. As a blogger, he should fucking well have known by now about Google’s current algorithm preferences.

  7. 7
    Elizabelle says:

    OT, but will someone cache Santorum’s website and that “lemmings” commercial (Apple ripoff which I cannot get to run)?

    So Santorum cannot pull a Huntsman and scrub the place (with holy water) once he capitulates to Romney.

  8. 8
    deep says:

    I use Blekko.com these days. It was set up by a bunch of former Google employees and they don’t spam you all the time like Google does.

  9. 9
    Nylund says:

    I actually get really annoyed by how time sensitive Google is wrt to recent happenings.

    Not that this is a real example, but it seems like increasingly, if you want to search for something like Oscar Wilde, you end up with a whole bunch of recent articles about what Olivia Wilde wore to the Oscars.

    It’s almost as if Google is reinforcing the 24 hour news cycle / pop culture aspects of the modern world that I don’t like. But maybe they’re just catering to their customers.

  10. 10
    Pococurante says:

    I ran an SEO business for a couple of years. Google’s algorithm favors older sites with new content that follows natural language rules and that also does not reinforce/repeat older content.

    And yes, the more legitimate refer backs from heavily traveled websites the better hence blogs and news/media sites.

  11. 11
    rachel says:

    @Nylund: Put your search term in quotes (like this: “Oscar Wilde”), and Google will search for those words in that specific order.

  12. 12
    Pococurante says:

    @Nylund:

    Not that this is a real example, but it seems like increasingly, if you want to search for something like Oscar Wilde, you end up with a whole bunch of recent articles about what Olivia Wilde wore to the Oscars.

    ‘+”oscar wilde” biography +quotes’ is not the same thing as ‘oscar wilde biography quotes’.

    More people probably care these days about who wore what than what some mean old queen quipped a century ago. A shame really.

  13. 13
    Paul in KY says:

    @Pococurante: He sure could deliver the quip though. What a wit.

  14. 14
    Culture of Truth says:

    North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon to help aid relations with the U.S., according to both nations.

    DAMN YOU OBAMA!!!

  15. 15
    Suffern ACE says:

    Meh. It was a political stunt that got a little stale.

  16. 16
    Palli says:

    I posted this elsewhere, too, but it is important.
    With all this hubbub about Santorum egotistical quest for the presidency, this telling detail has not been mentioned from his near recent history.
    While he was senator and living in Virginia, he took school voucher money ($100,000!) from the financially strapped Pennsylvania school district, where he claimed to be living, to pay for 5 of his children’s cyber home schooling tuition. When the school district requested he return the money he balked saying ““Why do I owe them money for a bill they approved that was lawful? I don’t owe them anything.” But the law applies to children who live in Pennsylvania. The district went to court and he was required to pay.

    The significance of this story is broader than understanding the “entitlement” issues of “poor” Santorum. There is a growing movement in this country to insist that our national elected representatives return to their home states as the principle residence rather than the capitol environs. Remember few of these lawmakers actually live in DC proper- it’s the affluent suburbs for them. Twenty-first Century communications could easily support most of the Congressional work and the officials would have to know more about their constituency. Not to mention, the citizens would get to know about them. The Washington political bubble is a peculiar place and it reeks of subterfuge. (And not just The Family and the Viagra drug habit!)
    P.S. Sean Duffy, the poor man, can easily live on $175.000 back in Wisconsin!

  17. 17
    scav says:

    News Corp is Juggling James, Sonny Boy is stepping down at NI, maybe more of a sideways dance away from the dratted newspapers but it still doesn’t look good on boyo’s CV (as though he’s living on the quality of his). (I’ll just link the guard’s live blog, sill on coffee first sip.)

  18. 18
    John says:

    Not that this is a real example, but it seems like increasingly, if you want to search for something like Oscar Wilde, you end up with a whole bunch of recent articles about what Olivia Wilde wore to the Oscars.

    Indeed it is not a real example. My searc turns up nothing but Oscar Wilde for the first four pages of results.

    I’d add that my search for Santorum still shows the Spreading Santorum page on the first page of results, right below the news stories.

    Also, why are we supposed to be supporters of the manipulation of Google to provide less useful information? Because it embarrasses somebody we don’t like?

  19. 19
    kdaug says:

    I’m still waiting to see the other 3 Dangers Destroying Men.

  20. 20
    Culture of Truth says:

    @scav: But will Horsegate bring Becky down??

  21. 21
    Yevgraf says:

    @kdaug:

    I’m still waiting to see the other 3 Dangers Destroying Men.

    Something about that ad screams “viruses worse than standard STDs” to me, so I have never, ever clicked it.

  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
    scav says:

    @Culture of Truth: at best a few really rude jokes about which is which in the photos on some of the ruder comedy shows. The 2006 Crone/Rebekah/Cops e-mail I have slight hopes of.

  25. 25
    cmorenc says:

    In another year, Rick Santorum will have returned to being a footnote to history and politics, outside of being a regular speaker on the hard-right culture warriors circuit, and along with it much interest in “frothy” Santorum jokes and Google references too them. Nevertheless, the lesson of how Savage successfully launched a savagely insulting Google attack on Santorum’s name will not have been lost on wingers, so next election cycle you can expect some red-staters to launch a similar effort against one or more of the prominent Democratic Presidential candidates in the 2016 race. However, the record for conservatives attempting to create successfully witty political satire (of the intended kind rather than blunderingly unintentional) is not very good, so even if efforts to create a reverse-Santorum Google bomb on a progressive candidate are technically successful, it may still bomb flat on its face as a strategic effort.

  26. 26
    scav says:

    @scav: see, barely inot the first coffee? Test the delete!

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    Pew Study: Is the Internet ruining or improving today’s youth?

    (Always have to read something about “today’s youth” that starts out “Teenagers today…”)

    On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center, in conjunction with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet project, released the results of a survey of 1,021 Internet “experts” asked to weigh in on whether growing up in a hyper-connected world will have a net positive effect, or a net negative effect, on today’s youth. [95% of teens 12 to 17 are online, 76% use social networking sites and 77% have cellphones.]
    __
    The results were split, with 55% of respondents saying thanks to the Internet kids today are learning to crowd source information and quickly locate answers to deep questions, and 43% saying it’s not looking too good for the future of deep thought.
    __
    Three percent couldn’t make up their minds one way or the other.
    __
    …Almost all agreed that in the future there will be a distinct set of skills that young people will need to be successful, including knowing how to solve problems through cooperative work and knowing how to quickly and efficiently find information on the Internet and just as quickly determine if that information has any value.
    __
    The most depressing comments in the report came from teachers — those dealing with the AO [Always On] generation day in and day out — who almost universally bemoan the loss of attention span and ability to think critically in their students.
    __
    “Technology is playing a big part in students not only not being able to perform as well in class, but also not having the desire to do so,” wrote one teacher who has been teaching at the college level for 12 years.
    __
    Another professor wrote: “Every day I see young people becoming more and more just members of a collective (like the Borg in Star Trek) rather than a collection of individuals and I firmly believe that technology is the cause.”
    __
    Yet another wrote: “The answers that students produce — while the students may be adept at finding them on Google — tend to be shallow and not thought through very well.”

    There was some optimism in the report, too.

    (Liberal blockquoting because LATimes material is going to disappear behind a paywall next week.)

    http://www.latimes.com/busines.....9504.story

    Here’s Elon’s link to the original study.
    http://www.elon.edu/e-web/pred.....ault.xhtml

  28. 28
    Culture of Truth says:

    Caffeine.

    In all likelihood few babies will be named Santorum after all this.

  29. 29
    Dr. Squid says:

    Actually, blog.spreadingsantorum.com is on the first page.

  30. 30
    kdaug says:

    @Yevgraf: Me either.

    Ain’t no firewall high enough.

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:

    @Nylund:

    Not that this is a real example, but it seems like increasingly, if you want to search for something like Oscar Wilde, you end up with a whole bunch of recent articles about what Olivia Wilde wore to the Oscars.

    Huh? I just searched Oscar Wilde and the top result was The Official Web Site of Oscar Wilde, followed by Wikipedia, images, works links and famous Wilde quotes.

    Some top quotes

    Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

    America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

    Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

    I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

    By the way, has everyone looked at Google’s new privacy rules going into effect March 1 and decided on what to do about their history?

    Background here.

  32. 32
    gex says:

    Don’t worry. Articles in which Santorum says I want to fuck kids and animals and rip asunder good people’s marriages will still show up at the top of any searches for them.

  33. 33
    Brachiator says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Is the Internet ruining or improving today’s youth?

    Youth are always being ruined. Means they must be doing something right.

    Liberal blockquoting because LATimes material is going to disappear behind a paywall next week.

    This is doubly sad. The Times used to be a good paper. But it is going into a sad decline, and the paywall will only accelerate it.

    And here’s a youth related anecdote. Many of the staff where I work are in their 20s and 30s. Only one person subscribes to the Times, and brings it to work. The only section that anyone keeps is the Sports section (makes for good bathroom reading). Everything else, including any ad inserts, is tossed in the trash. But it’s not that no one cares about the news. The news is on the Net. Even ads and coupons. The link about free pancakes at IHOP was quickly emailed to those interested.

  34. 34
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Brachiator: Tried to follow those directions and it doesn’t really match up. Do you have to have opted into web history at some point for it to have been gathered in the first place?

  35. 35
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Elizabelle: Yup, technology’s behind any decrease in deep, critical thinking among young people.

    It has nothing to do with the past decade of concentrating on teaching factiods & test-taking skills, all so everyone will score as high as possible on the high-stakes NCLB tests.

    Focusing on teaching what’s needed to fill bubbles in correctly also doesn’t take away from opportunities to develop the highly-prized ability “to solve problems through cooperative work.” Nope, nope, nope. Pew’s definitely looking in the right direction.

  36. 36
    Wayne says:

    What I don’t like and I don’t understand is how I can google a businesses web address and it won’t appear until the 2nd or 3rd page.

  37. 37

    My take is that this is no big deal

    I agree.

    but I’m a supporter of Google changes that favor more recent sites

    I’m not. I’m a supporter of Google favoring more relevant sites, regardless of their age. But I’ll agree that “relevance” is relative, and often what’s relevant to my interests is what everybody is talking about right now.

    But as you mentioned, you can power search for more recent entries or a date range. And if you want really really recent stuff, you search Google News instead of the main web search.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Elizabelle says:

    @Brachiator:

    Looks like the LATimes is proposing $4/week for digital subscriptions, which is too much for me. $4/month and we might talk, since the LATimes has some good columnists and interesting reporting on trends coming off the West Coast and Pacific Rim. (I don’t follow their political coverage much, although it’s sometimes surprisingly fair.)

    In rolling out their new program, they wrote the Dallas Morning News has adopted a paywall, which makes me laugh. (Although maybe it works for Cowboys fans — that’s how a Wisconsin paper gets away with charging …)

    People who will pay for sports coverage but not for hard news.

  40. 40
    JoyfulA says:

    @Palli: Furthermore, Santorum bought an $800,000 VA McMansion far away from DC; he could have bought an equivalent house for half that in PA and commuted, like some PA congressmen do, with less effort. (Lots of people who work in DC live in southern PA for cheaper real estate and lower taxes than MD or VA; it’s a short drive to commuter trains into DC.)

    PA residency for children re school districts is “where they lay their heads at night.”

  41. 41
    Elizabelle says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I guess one gets the most exposure to critical thinking in college, unless you’re at a very good high school or lucked out with a few teachers. (Maturity level probably important too.)

    Which might be Santorum et al’s beef.

    But it’s an interesting issue, making sense of an ocean of data, with seas of detritus, and what is the credible information?

    Technology’s ability to help you filter, or narrowcast, could be taking away a broad stream of information we need to function as a society or democracy.

    OTOH, you can read on the scene reporting from Turkey or Tokyo or Chardon, Ohio, at your pleasure.

  42. 42

    I always thought the whole “Spreading Santorum” thing was hilarious, but I also wondered why something so irrelevant came up when I searched for “Rick Santorum.” Sure, it’s funny, but I want relevant results – not comedy.

    I’m as gay as they come, and I despise Rick Santorum, but whatever. Google is not the place to play games.

    Also, I blame Google for the results; not Dan Savage.

  43. 43
    jlow says:

    @kdaug: I nominate soonergrunt to go in there and report back.

  44. 44
    Steve M. says:

    I despise Rick Santorum with every fiber of my being, but can I seriously be the only lefty who’s tired of this infantile little meme? Sure, it was funny the first seventy million times it was drawn to my attention, but after that it got a tad old.

  45. 45
    kdaug says:

    @jlow: When in doubt, send in a scout.

  46. 46
    Tom Betz says:

    blog.spreadingsantorum.com is still on my first Google search page, and I have it set to “Hide personal results”, so it’s a global thing. Of course, that goes to the blog, not to the definition page. Whoever owns spreadingsantorum.com could fix that, if they chose to do it.

    It is farther down the list than when I last looked, number 9 if you include all the “News” listings as a single entry, so that needs to be overcome.

  47. 47
    Collin says:

    This so-called meaning of “santorum” is a lie. There are so many real things Santorum can be called: blasphemer, misogynist, etc., that anyone who relies on a meaningless shock-tag is too verbally-challenged to run a political site. I’m all in favor of Google moving these shock-trolls as far down the list as possible.

  48. 48
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    As Atrios says, Google’s emphasis on “updated three minutes ago” is killing it as a way to track down original sources — and it basically turns any attempt to delve into those bits of the web created several years ago but left unaltered into an archeology expedition. I hate it: the threshold on “actively searchable” is being pulled in ever-closer, which reduces the machine-memory of the web to that of a goldfish.

  49. 49
    Paul in KY says:

    @Collin: It is not now a lie. To me, the official name of that icky substance is ‘santorum’.

    If I was speaking about it in a medical/academic setting, I would use the term. What other one or two words would better describe it?

  50. 50

    […] sounds like bad news but it’s not given that the Urban Dictionary’s definition is even better than the one […]

  51. 51
    jeff says:

    I’d like this meme to go underground as quickly as possible. The Right thinks that all the Left cares about is making everyone gay, and this meme is going to be seen as stupid, juvenile, slanderous and “unChristian”. It will do the Right’s work for them.

    If you think the average American wants to see this pop up on ANY search of Santorum, you’re REALLY out of touch.

  52. 52
    Bago says:

    The thinking behind the weighting is to keep up with blogs and twitter.

    /spiderwriter

  53. 53

    […] fear, though, it’s not as if Google is caving to the Frothy Mix’s whining: …the first result (after election […]

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