Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for September, 2011

Google vs Bing vs Yahoo! in the Search for Santorum

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2011

That’s the claim that GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum made last week, and Concerned Women for America’s Peggy Young Nance is working to spread the smear with the help of Fox News. Yesterday, she published this op-ed on Fox News claiming:

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) is the father of seven children, a devout Catholic, and current GOP presidential candidate.  But when someone types his name into the Google search box, the very first result that appears is a website detailing a sex act “by-product” named after the senator.  In fact, the Senator’s own website is the fourth result. By contrast, Rick Santorum’s website is the first result that both Yahoo and Bing give the user.

…Sen. Santorum said that he suspects “if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it. … To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle, but I suspect that’s not true.”

I tend to agree with the senator.  Why does Bing know that Rick Santorum’s own website is a better match than an explicitly sex-related site?

Nance might want to re-Bing and re-Yahoo! “Santorum”again. First up, Microsoft’s Bing, where you have to go all the way down to #8 before you find Sen. Santorum’s campaign web site:

Bing's search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

On Yahoo!, Santorum’s campaign web site made #7, including the obligatory news summary at the top. That news summary takes up a considerable amount of real estate, which pushes Santorum’s official web site nearly below the fold:

Yahoo!'s search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Google places Santorum’s campaign web site at #9, just below the fold. Which means that all three search engines place Santorum’s official campaign link within one position of each other:

Googles search results as of 8:30 a.m. PDT on September 25 (Click to enlarge)

Which means that in the world of Search Engine Optimization where it’s understood that the first couple of slots are where 70% of searchers click, Santorum’s Yahoo! problem and Bing problem are hardly better than his Google problem.