Rachel Maddow discussed the “Santorum Google Problem” on her MSNBC show last night by responding to an audience member’s suggestion that Google is conspiring to drop the results of certain highly negative and controversial pages in its search results. While the fall of the negative pages does seem curious on its surface, it is more than likely the natural result of “positive” media coverage of the Republican candidate.
Hopefully, I can help out a little. Google’s algorithm ranks pages largely based upon the quality and quantity of inbound links pointing to them. Additionally, the search engine takes other factors into account such as social media shares and bounce rate. And yes, Google does in fact, update its algorithm hundreds of times throughout the year. In all likelihood, Santorum’s rise in the primary spotlight has generated thousands upon thousands of links and shares to his home page. The increased “buzz” to his “authentic” content has finally outpaced the humor of his “in-authentic” content, thus boosting his campaign page’s results. While Google’s Page Rank isn’t the only factor that ranks pages, it does have an impact, and Santorum’s campaign site ranks 6, compared to Dan Savage’s 5.
Another factor. Recent Google updates have personalized results so that not everyone sees the same set of links after conducting a search. This can depend on social networks, geography, and search history. So essentially, Santorum’s campaign page rise seems to be fair play. Regardless, I’ll help out the cause by linking to the site in question here.