Google Bombing

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Google Bombing is a term used in search engine optimization (SEO). It refers to improving the SEO profile of a website in Google’s search engine index in an unnatural way.

Definition

Google Bombing is a manipulation by Google where links pointing to the page in question point to a keyword that does not exist on the site or is relevant to that search query. With the placement of numerous links, a higher ranking in Google search results can be achieved.

Google Bombing is used for a variety of purposes, but usually occurs in a satirical, sarcastic and/or political context. For example, negative terms can thus be associated with a politician’s website. If the bombing is also related to other internet search engines, it is also called link bombing, spamdexing, link and keyword spam or negative SEO. However, because Google is the largest and most popular search engine, the term Google Bombing has become established.

Background: Known Google Bombings

  • The first Google Bombing took place in 1999: With the search term “more evil than satan himself” one came to the web presence of Microsoft. Google Bombings gained popularity in 2003 when opponents of US President George W. Bush Junior colluded and used the term “miserable failure” to link to an official biographical text about Bush on their websites and weblogs.
  • Since then, Google Bombing has been used frequently, including by Bush sympathizers who, in turn, have tried to associate political opponents like Jimmy Carter, Michael Moore, and Hillary Clinton with the term “miserable failure.” In 2008, barely a year after Google made an algorithm change because of this, there was another Google Bomb with “dangerous cult” returning Scientology as the first result.
  • In Austria, Google Bombing gained notoriety after a search for the term “complete incompetence” led to the website of then Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser. In 2010, the Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache, party leader of the right-wing populist FPÖ, became acquainted with a Google Bombing, because the term “Vollkoffer” (“complete idiot”) led to his personal homepage. In Switzerland, the most popular example is the search for “pathetic wimp”, which referred to the Federal Council website of the well-known right-wing populist Christoph Blocher.
  • A Google Bombing from 2009: If you searched for “worst failure ever”, Google gave as top result a biographical page of the White House about the then US President Barack Obama.
  • In July 2018, a targeted manipulation managed to display images of then-U.S. President Donald Trump as the Google Image Search result for the word “idiot.”

How Google Bombing Works

Google Bombing exploited the methodology Google uses to rank websites in order to make it absurd. Google’s search results today are still based in part on the PageRank algorithm, which rates the popularity of a website based on the inbound links and the terms that are noted for the anchor texts. The more links with the same terms pointing to a particular website target, the more relevant that website theoretically is in search results for those terms. Thus, it was possible to link websites with terms that have no thematic relation to the content of the website.

However, Google nowadays additionally evaluates according to the relevance of the content. In addition, there are numerous other factors with technical, content and structural origins – there are said to be over 200 ranking factors. While this method produces reliable results in most cases, it used to be an easy target for ranking manipulation and SEO tricks because of the basic PageRank algorithm.

How Google Bombs are defused

Google, in response to Google Bombings, has developed a special algorithm to detect just that. However, this algorithm is not active all the time, because there are relatively few Google Bombs and thus only unnecessary capacities would be wasted. However, as soon as signs appear, it can be turned on to reduce the impact of these Google Bombs.

What Google Bombing Means for SEO

Since Google has placed more emphasis on topical relevance, depth of content, and structure of content and link profile since the successful Google Bombings, it is safe to assume that Google Bombs have driven the search engine to improve. The group had to admit that it was not immune to manipulation. Because despite statements to the contrary that SERPs could not be influenced, search results could be specifically changed by exploiting the dependencies of the PageRank algorithm.

Conclusion

Google Bombing is not as popular as it was a few years ago, but it can occur sporadically. However, due to Google’s countermeasure, the success they are pursuing is uncertain.[uncode_list][/uncode_list]

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