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6 SEO Lessons from Rick Santorum

How did a prominent writer beat the GOP candidate in the search war? Superior SEO. Here are a few simple rules for getting top ranks in the SEO world.

Rick Santorum speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.


Google "Santorum" and you won't find his campaign website. What you'll find is a controversial website created by columnist Dan Savage called SpreadingSantorum.com.

Keeping things PG, what's on the website you'll have to find out on your own, but what's important, is to understand why Google is ranking this site above Santorum's main site.

For those that don't know, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), is the process of improving a websites rank and visibility in major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Generally, sites that rank higher receive more visitors, and is often a major marketing component of businesses and individuals.

Which influences a website to rank higher in search engines? It's a question that doesn't have a black and white answer, but there are a few key factors that are widely known and accepted.

Let's analyze why SpreadingSantorum.com is the No. 1 result when Googling "Santorum."

1. Age.  The website has been around since 2003. Age of a website plays an important role in SEO. This is especially important to know for brand-new sites, as major search engines like Google don't like to let the new guys beat out their competitors too quickly.

2. Links.  The website has a history of receiving a steady stream of inbound links from a variety of sources.  Many of them trustworthy and authoritative like news sources. Quality links from relevant sources are often one of the biggest factors that help search engines determine a websites rank. Search engines look at links as a credibility builder for a website.

3. Anchor Text.  The author encouraged many of his supporters to link to the SpreadingSantorum.com site with the word "santorum" as the link text. The text that is part of the link is called the anchor text. This vastly increases the likelihood of ranking for that exact keyword.

4. Domain. The fact that "Santorum" is inside the domain SpreadingSantorum.com only adds and compounds this relevancy in the eyes of the search engines.

5. Quality. Perhaps most importantly, the total link equity (the strength and quality of links to the site) outweighs that of the actual official Rick Santorum site as shown by the data in the attached graph, pulled from SEOmoz, a leading SEO software provider.

6. Content.  Having relevant content on the topic you're trying to rank for is a major factor in your SEO efforts. In the case of SpreadingSantorum.com, the site has a blog full of hundreds of posts all about the subject at hand.

Sorry Rick, but in the situation you're in, it's probably easier to change your name or hire a reputation management firm, which can sometimes help with the situation.

Check out the numbers:


The above is based on conversations with Ari Nahmani, Director of Search Marketing at Ciplex.

IMAGE: Gage Skidmore / flickr
Last updated: Jan 5, 2012

ILYA POZIN is the founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company. He founded his first company, Ciplex, a digital marketing and creative agency catering to small businesses and startups, at age 17.

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