It looks as though one of the Internet’s most notorious Googlebombs has lost some of its explosiveness.. Just Google “Rick Santorum” and take a look.
I’m not sure if Rick Santorum did some paid search engine optimization work, or if the bomb’s effectiveness wore off over time, but what should you do if your campaign or non-profit finds itself in a similar pickle — or if you’re just facing down some unfortunate Google results and need SEO help?
- Don’t antagonize the internet (if you can avoid it). In other words, don’t pick a fight with people who buy pixels by the barrel. Unless you’re Donald Trump: then you have a truly massive Internet army to counter with.
- Make sure your own campaign or organizational site is search engine optimized. You’ll want it to do well in search on its own (See: SEO tips for campaigns and nonprofit advocacy groups) If your own website is not showing up on the 1st page of search results, check and make sure there aren’t any technical issues going on.
- Use paid Google ads. (More tips on paid advertising here.) This won’t fix bad results, but it will at least get your message out at the top of the results (in the paid area). If you have a c3, you may be eligible for a Google grant– which would mean free advertising dollars!
- If you’re looking at an unfortunate article from a major news source, that’s going to be hard to dislodge in search (a major news source is going to have a lot of backlinks). But if you can get a new article from the same news source, you may have some luck in having it take the place in the first page or so of results.
- Don’t link to the content and don’t ask others to link to it (even if just to counter the arguments) – you don’t want to encourage Google to rank it any more highly.
- Get more positive content out there. Do more interviews, campaign videos, make sure everything is spread on social media and that others start writing about it. Flood the zone with your positive message, and do your best to get the new material to rank above the old in search. If you can get others to link to your original content, so much the better. Make sure it’s widely shared on social media too.
- Don’t forget to take advantage of things that will naturally rank very high in Google search: make sure you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn, YouTube account for the campaign, wikipedia page… that right there may be most of the page 1 search results right, eventually.
- You could try to call in the lawyers, but be prepared for blowback. You don’t want to accidentally make the story even bigger. (See point #1: don’t antagonize people who buy pixels by the barrel!)
Now take a deep breath, and be patient. Good SEO work takes time, and you may not see instant results (although ads can go up instantly). Don’t let your candidate or Executive Director develop tunnel vision on this, and obsess about search results to the detriment of fundraising and communicating with voters. Unless it’s close to election time, undecided voters are not likely to be googling your campaign right now anyways.