From the Editors
Top Stories for the Week of Jan. 2 - 6, 2012
Google is in the news and the blogs as 2012 fatefully fades in. For starters, there's rising presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a traditional guy with a very modern problem. "As you probably know," explains Dan Kennedy's Media Nation, "if you Google the word 'santorum,' the very first result will be an extremely offensive website created by the gay activist Dan Savage, who was responding several years ago to Rick Santorum's disturbingly graphic opposition to homosexuality." Actually, it's not always the very first Google result anymore, but without even clicking through to the special website Googlers get to see Mr. Savage's R-rated new dictionary definition for the word santorum, as follows: "Santorum: 1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. 2. Senator Rick Santorum." It's been said many times, many ways: ouch. The website Spreading Santorum, focal point for the smear campaign, is taking perverse glee documenting the travels of the neologism, including a new roundup from Buzzfeed called 25 People Who Just Googled Santorum for the First Time, folks whose Twitter reactions range from "OMG!" to "#ew."
WebProNews observes that it's not just a Google Problem. Similar search results come up on Bing, AOL, Yahoo, and more. "I mean come on, the guy even has a Baidu problem." Conservative bloggers are crying foul. Says Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism: "Basically, this Google campaign against Santorum was ginned up in '03 to make the former, two-term Pennsylvania Senator look like a raging homophobe over a statement he made regarding same-sex marriage...Only a few hours after his impressive Iowa showing, the openly left-wing media is already making an issue out of it and they are doing this for a sinister, partisan, and dishonest reason. "
It's a lesson for us all in these digital days: if you don't define yourself, others will do it for you. Oddepia says Santorum is "making his Google problem worse" by not doing much to promote his legitimate Web presence: "Santorum's site isn't following any of the SEO best practices that the search engines would recommend. It is literally playing hide-and-seek with them." Mashable helpfully offers "Six Ways to Fix the Problem" that really could serve anyone in a situation where their name has become mud. "You need to fight fire with fire," Mash advises. "Savage's site went viral and you need to respond in kind. Take all the buzz surrounding your candidacy after Iowa and build an online presence that will spread your own site across the Internet. You're going to have to out-viral Savage's site."
Google dealt with its own Google Problem this week after what SEO Book called the company's Orwellian misadventure employing paid links to promote the search rank of the Google Chrome browser, contrary to Google's own rules. "The fact that Google is paying to spread that sort of misinformation about how their browser is helping small businesses is sort of like BP buying ads about doing tourism in the gulf." Search Engine Land figured out that the campaign came from a marketing firm named Unruly that Google hired and concluded: "Google's paying to produce a lot of garbage, the same type of garbage that its Panda Update was designed to penalize. " Pretty quickly, Google repented and punished itself: "To slap itself on the wrist, Google says it will demote its own Chrome download page in searches for the browser for two months," PaidContent reports.
While Google sits in the corner, Apple heads to the Big Apple this month for a product-related mystery event of unknown proportions. Reports the unknowing All Things D: "According to sources close to the situation, Apple is planning an important -- but not large-scale -- event to be held in New York at the end of this month that will focus on a media-related announcement." Not iPad 3 or digital TV. But media! That's nice and vague. "We suspect it'll be related to iTunes or some kind of publishing deal," says Gizmodo. One thing we know about New York is that this Friday they're opening an Apple Store in Grand Central Station. The Next Web has a little photo gallery from the scene and also notes a NY Post report saying Apple is paying $60 per-square-foot for the store space "whereas other retailers are expected to pay $200 for the same area." Slashgear reports that, yes, there will be a next-generation iPad 3, in "three to four months," by which time the NYC event surely will be over. Apple TV stuff surely is expected to heat up during 2012. After the Wall Street Journal reported on Apple's planned TV assault, GigaOM followed with a breakdown and analysis of what product features might be coming, suggesting "Apple clearly has to do something or Google will run away with the Internet TV business." TechCrunch's five predictions for online video in 2012 are very Apple-flavored. "Think of a large-screen beautiful iPad on your wall," it imagines. Which is a nice image to conjure up, as a promising year begins.