Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's problems on Google further illustrate the significance of SEO and a strong web presence for brand management.

A search for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s full name yields some interesting results after the first listing for the former senator’s campaign website. The second result on the page is a parody website created by a Santorum detractor using his last name as a term with a vulgar meaning.

As Santorum’s campaign continues its recent run of success, he tied with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in winning the recent Iowa Caucus, it’s likely that he will remain a hot search term. As such, more and more people will find the website mocking Santorum. Moreover, at press time, those who search only for “Santorum” will see this page as the first result.

Marketers should consider Rick Santorum’s situation as a reminder that it’s important to dominate SERPs for a brand name. On The former Senator’s website has very few cached pages in Google, and, as Danny Sullivan pointed out, many of them point to a donation page that isn’t optimized for his name.

Essentially, Santorum’s campaign may suffer heavily due to a genuinely poor SEO strategy.

Companies can avoid this pitfall by building content-rich sites with multiple pages that incorporate brand names. (Brafton has written about harnessing SEO for brand reputation in the past.)

Explicit search results for “Santorum” may impact online Americans’ perception of the candidate, but bad brand SERPs will undoubtedly harm businesses. Brafton recently reported that 71 percent of B2B buyers said they start the process with searches. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.