The terms Google bomb and Googlewashing refer to
practices intended to influence the ranking
of particular pages, in results returned by the Google search engine.
Searches for Google Bombs came to the leading positions in the Google Trends, when that became clear that Barack Obama inherited them from the predecessor, George Bush. It is interesting to see, how easy it is to manipulate searches positioning if needed. Foxnews article below also has some political taste, which is just spicing the content, however I have to admit that the facts mostly support the offered assessment. Still, there are possible additional explanations on why the Obama clearance took much faster than Bush clearance. My be, Google has acquired recently new IP or developed new technology, allowing to eliminate Google Bomb threat much faster than before. Who knows?
A Google search of ’miserable failure’ now returns Web sites about the Googlebombs rather than the original pages that were returned.
It took four years for Google to address the "Google bomb" that was lobbed at former President Bush.
But it took the Internet behemoth only a few days to defuse the same attack on President Obama.
Four years versus a few days ... Some Googlers are asking why.
In 2003, President Bush’s detractors successfully gamed the Google search engine by arranging to have countless Web sites link the words "miserable failure" to Bush’s official biography on the White House Web site.
The result was that when someone typed the search term "miserable failure" into the Google search box, Bush’s bio rose to the top of the search results.
And that’s how it stayed until 2007, when Google developed an algorithm to detect what became known as "Google bombs" and re-directed the term "miserable failure" to non-political pages.
Unfortunately for Obama, "miserable failure" reverted back to his bio when he moved into the White House. The new president was also Google-bombed with the phrase "cheerful achievement."
But this time, Google stepped in quickly, rectifying the situation in a few days, instead of four years.
The difference in time did not go unnoticed.
"You let this go on for the entire Bush administration," a reader named w3bgrrl wrote on a Google blog. "But since you bought the White House for Obama, you don’t want your candidates harmed ... And your claims not withstanding, even liberals know you’re liberal."
But another writer, Mikkel deMib Svendsen, gave Google the benefit of the doubt.
"I do think many of [Google employees] are liberals but I am also 100% confident that the large majority of them are also very professional people that take the job of creating a good and unbiased search engine very, very seriously," he wrote.
Google itself said the reason it took only a few days to redirect Obama’s Google bomb was that, this time, it already had the algorithm in place.
"Though the spirit of change may be in the air in Washington, some things apparently stay the same," Google software engineer Matt Cutts wrote on a Google blog. "After we became aware of this latest Googlebomb, we re-ran our algorithm and it detected the Googlebomb for [cheerful achievement] as well as for [failure]. As a result, those search queries now return discussion about the Google bombs, rather than the original pages that were returned."
In another company blog, Google software engineers Ryan Moulton and Kendre Carattini wrote that the "pranks" aren’t a very high priority for the company.
"But over time, we’ve seen more people assume that they are Google’s opinion, or that Google has hand-coded the results for these Googlebombed queries," they wrote. "That’s not true, and it seemed like it was worth trying to correct that misperception."
Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, says Google could have acted even faster in Obama’s case, and that he was "disappointed" that the Internet giant did not act preemptively last week.
"They knew this was an issue before the inauguration, but it wasn’t until after it happened that [Google] finally got to it and said, ’We better re-run our system,’" Sullivan told FOXNews.com.
"I know there are bigger issues to worry about," he said. "But then again, people turn to search engines to try and find information and this is the kind of thing you want them to be paying attention to as part of an overall communication strategy."
Sullivan likened Google bombing to a "neighborhood kid spray-painting on your wall," and he said he expects these kinds of digital antics to continue.
"It’s probably going to be an inevitable fact of life for politicians moving forward to see themselves involved in these types of pranks," he said. "But you don’t want to go around reacting too much, either."
Asked if he thought Google’s reaction to the Bush and Obama Google bombs appeared to be biased, Sullivan replied, "I give them the benefit of the doubt. If you’re an Obama friend at Google, waiting until after he’s in office is not being a good friend."
According to an article by CNET News, the Obama "cheerful achievement" Google bomb was created by Montreal blogger Eric Baillargeon, who did not return requests for comment.
Obama spokesman Nicholas Shapiro declined to comment Thursday.
A Yahoo! search of "miserable failure," however, returns the official White House biographies of Obama and Bush, respectively. Company officials did not return a request for comment Friday.
While political Google Bombs are quite common, there are other types appearing here and there: commercial, promotional, competitive, and simply for fun.
Just look what you can get when you search for "French Military Victories"
PingPongPie created a list of the 10 most successful Google Bombs in the recent history:
10 successful Google Bombs that I’ve come across in recent years. Some of you may even remember them from when they were active. So in no particular order, we have:
1. “More evil than Satan himself” brought up the Microsoft homepage.
2. “Dumb motherfucker” linked to a site selling George W. Bush-related merchandise.
3. “Miserable failure” or “failure” on the 29th of September 2006 brought up the official George W. Bush biography.
4. In the run up to the 2005 UK election, “liar” linked to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
5. A long-lasting and moderately successful bomb would be making the word “Scientology” link to Operation Clambake (www.xenu.net), an anti-scientology movement.
6. Another Scientology-related google bomb was born on the 29th of January 2008, when a google bomb linking the search “dangerous cult” to the homepage of The Church of Scientology was created.
7. Steven Lerner, the creator of Albino Blacksheep, created a joke webpage in 2003, which was titled “French Military Victories.” When searched for on Google, the top entry took you to a page that resembles google, but reads “Your search - French military victories - did not match any documents. Did you mean French military defeats?” This received over 50,000 hits in the first 18 hours of opening. Links near the top of the page lead to a simplified list of French military history. Even if you google “French military victories” now, it’s still the top result.
8. A bombing run targeting former US Senator Rick Santorum was embarked upon by columnist Dan Savage after the Senator made several controversial remarks towards homosexuality. The bombing was part of Savage’s plan to have the word “santorum” used for the combination of semen, lubricant and excrement that results from anal sex, and propelled the website created for that purpose to a high result for “santorum”.
9. Jewish writer Daniel Sieradski asked his blog readers to link to the Wikipedia article for “Jew” after he found that googling “Jew” returned the anti-Jewish website “Jew Watch” as the top entry. The bombing was a success and removed the site from the top result, but unfortunately Jew Watch still appears on the first page of results.
10. A search for “McDonald’s” was linked to the film Supersize Me, which was highly critical of the McDonald’s restaurant chain.
To understand how easy is to arrange the search engine steering to the wrong direction, there is simple instructions by Adam Mathes on how you can join the Google Bomb campaign, distributed on the web in 2001:
Here’s how you can join in the first ever international google bombing:
1. Get a web site. If you already have a web site, you can skip this step. If not, be a cheap bastard and go Geocities, Angelfire, Pitas, whatever. I don’t care. Everyone has something to say blah blah blah personal expression yadda yadda. Just remember the Google bombing.
2. Whenever you update your site, which should be approximately three to five times a week, be sure to include the following HTML at some point:
Andy <a href="http://www.ohmessylife.com">"talentless hack"</a> Pressman
3. Add your site to Google.
4. Wait for the magic to happen! Soon, whenever you type in talentless hack into google, you’ll see Andy "talentless hack" Pressman smiling right back at you.
-Adam Mathes, "Filler Friday: Google bombing," Ьber: Better Than You, Daily, April 6, 2001
Bomb generation infrastructure is presented below:
Sources and Additional Reading: