Google Bombing refers to black hat SEOs practices targeted at increasing a webpage’s rank for a particular Google search by exploiting its algorithm. The term Google bombing is related to the practice of causing a website to rank highly in web search engine results for unrelated, irrelevant or off-topic search terms by linking heavily. In contrast, SEOs practice of improving the search engine listing of web pages for relevant search terms.
It generally involves inflating the number of pages that link to a page and the words used in the link’s anchor text. Google bombing is done for either comedic purposes, business, or political. Google’s search ranking algorithm ranks pages higher for specific search phrases if enough other pages linked to it using related anchor text.
Google bombing is similar to spamdexing the method of consciously altering HTML to increase the chance of website being placed close to the beginning of search engine results or to influence the category to which the page is assigned misleadingly or dishonestly.
By January 2007 Google had tweaked its search results to counter popular Google bombs, such as “miserable failure”, which now lists pages about the Google bomb itself.
Link bombing is also referred to as a “Google Bombing”. Link Bombing is internet slang for a certain sort of persuading the ranking of a particular page in results shown by the Google Search Engine, frequently with political or entertaining intention. A Google bomb is formed if numerous sites link to the page in this way whereas the Link bomb is used both as a verb as well as a noun. Google bombs are collective efforts to link to a website by key phrases and artificially raised a website in the Google search results for that search.
Why Did This Work?
Google’s search engine tends to think that the words used in the link to a specific source reflect some of the content of the source. If many people link to an article with the same phrase, such as “using Google effectively”, google will assume that “using Google effectively” related to the content of the page, if that specific phrase isn’t used within the page itself.
Why Did Google Do About the Bomb?
Initially, Google did nothing to change the search results but Google issued a link to a statement at the top of the search results page for “miserable failure” and “failure”. The September 2005 statement from Google concludes,
“We don’t forgive the practice of google bombing that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we are also reluctant to change our results by hand to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”
Google has since rethought and altered their algorithm to eliminate many bombs. Rather than try to guess which results are natural and which came from Google bombing efforts, Google elected to leave things as they were.
Famous Google Bombs
You can find the list of Google bombs. Some of the better-known bombs include:
- “Jew” was linked to Wikipedia on Judaism. This was done to counter the original search results, which ranked an anti-semitic Web site as the top result. Google placed a link also, to a statement at the top of the search results page to explain the results.
- The first Google bomb was introduced as a joke by Adam Mathes. He linked the Web site of his friend Andy Pressman to the phrase “talentless hack.”
- After angering columnist Dan Savage with his anti-homosexual remarks in 2003, Savage and the fans of his “Savage Love” column created a Google bomb that linked politician Rick Santorum’s last name to a definition for a lewd phrase. As of 2018 the Google bomb remains intact and is outranking Rick Santorum’s official page. Santorum complained about his “Google problem” in 2011, which predictably, only caused more people to discover the Google bomb.
- Comedian Stephen Colbert’s Website, Colbert Nation was Google bombed by fans with the phrases “giant brass balls” and “greatest living American.”
Many of these Google Bombs fade with time as the original links move off of the page of the blogs that linked them. Some, like Rick santorum’s Google bomb, ed up staying around for years.