From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia
A Google bomb or Google washer is a certain attempt to
influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by the Google
search engine. Due to the way that
Google's PageRank algorithm works, a page
will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use
consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of
sites link to the page in this manner. Google bomb is used both as a
verb and a noun.
See Spamdexing for the practice of deliberately and dishonestly
modifying HTML pages to increase the chance of them being placed close
to the beginning of search engine results, or to influence the category
to which the page is assigned in a dishonest manner.
A screen shot of the results of searching for
Miserable failure on Google. In one of
the more well known Google Bombings, the site was manipulated so that the
first Miserable failure result links to
George W. Bush's biography on the official White House web site.
As an example of Google bombing, if a user registers many domains and all
of them link to a main site with the text "... is a living legend" then
searching for "living legend" on Google will return the main site higher in
the ranking, even if the phrase "living legend" doesn't appear on the main
site. A common means of exploiting this is through weblogs, where although
the entry may disappear from the main page quickly, the short-term effects
of a link can dramatically affect the ranking of a given site. Empirical
results indicate that it does not take a large number of websites to achieve
a Googlebomb. The effect has been achieved with only a handful of dedicated
The above has to be qualified, however. A handful of blog links will not
Google bomb someone like Amazon.com out of the top results for "books," for
example. In fact, Googlebombs have generally had an impact on relatively
"non-competitive" terms, where there's no particular page that seems to be
necessarily the right answer.
The technique was first discussed on April 6, 2001 in an article by Adam
Mathes . In that article, he coined the term "Google bombing" and explained
how he discovered that Google used the technique to calculate page rankings.
He found that a search for "internet rockstar" returned the website of a Ben
Brown as the first result, even though "internet rockstar" did not appear
anywhere on Brown's webpage. He reasoned that Google's algorithm returned it
as the first result because many fan sites that linked to Brown's website
used that phrase on their own pages.
Mathes began testing his theory by setting out to make the website of his
friend Andy Pressman the number one result for a query of "talentless hack".
He gave instructions for creating websites and links to Pressman's website
with the text of the link reading "talentless hack". Sure enough, as other
webloggers joined in his Googlebombing campaign, Pressman's website became
the number one result in a Google search for "talentless hack". (Ironically,
by 2004, Mathes's own site was the number one Google result of this
search term. As of 27 December, 2005, it
However, the first Google bomb mentioned in the popular press may have
occurred accidentally in 1999, when users discovered that the query "more
evil than Satan" returned Microsoft's home page. Now, it returns links to
several news articles on the discovery.
Ironically, Google bombs often end their life by being too popular or well
known, thereby attaining a mention in well regarded web journals and
knocking the bomb off the top spot. It is sometimes commented that Google
bombing need not be countered because of this self-disassembly.
In addition, the entire notion of "Google bombs" might be better described
as "link bombing," given that these campaigns can certainly have an effect
on other search engines, as well. All major
search engines make use of link analysis and thus can be impacted. So, a
search for "miserable failure" on 1
June 2005 brought up the official George W. Bush biography number one on
Google, Yahoo and MSN and number two on Ask Jeeves. On 2 June 2005 Yooter
reported that George Bush is now ranked first for the keyword 'failure' as
well as 'miserable failure' in both
Google and Yahoo. And on September 16, 2005, Marissa Mayer wrote on Google
Blog about the practice of Google bombing and the word "failure." (See
Google's response below)
The BBC in reporting on Googlebombs in 2002 actually used the headline of
"Google Hit By Link Bombers," acknowledging to some degree the idea of "link
bombing." In 2004, the Search Engine Watch site said that the term should be
"link bombing" because of the impact beyond Google and continues to use that
term as more accurate.
Nevertheless, "Google bombing" was added to the New Oxford American
Dictionary in May 2005.
Main articles: nigritude
ultramarine, seraphim proudleduck
In May 2004, Dark Blue and SearchGuild.com teamed up to create what they
termed the "SEO Challenge". They offered an Apple iPod mini to the person
whose page was the first result for the search phrase "nigritude
ultramarine" one month after the competition's start. A second prize, a
Sony flat-screen monitor, was the prize for being the first result a month
later. These went to merkey.net and Anil Dash , respectively.
The contest sparked controversy around the Internet, as some groups worried
that search engine optimization (SEO)
companies would abuse the techniques used in the competition to alter
queries more relevant to the average user. This fear was offset by the
belief that Google would alter their algorithm based on the methods used by
In September 2004, another SEO contest was created. This time, the objective
was to get the top result for the phrase "seraphim
proudleduck". A large sum of money was offered to the winner, but the
competition turned out to be a hoax.
In .net magazine, Issue 134, March 2005, a contest was created among five
professional web site developers to make their site the number one listed
site for the made-up phrase "crystalline incandescence". (Read the article
oogle has defended its algorithms as simply a reflection of the opinion
on the Internet, saying that it is not damaging the overall quality of its
Google has said it expects Googlebombing to return to obscurity and has
dismissed it as "cybergraffiti" and just another internet fad.
On 18 January 2005 the Google blog entry "Preventing comment spam" declared
that Google will henceforth respect a rel="nofollow" attribute on
hyperlinks. Their page ranking algorithm now avoids links with this
attribute when ranking the destination page. The intended result is that
site administrators can easily modify user-posted links such that the
attribute is present, and thus an attempt to googlebomb by posting a link on
such a site would yield no increase from that link.
On 16 September 2005 Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products for
Google wrote on Google Blog an apology to those who were offended by the
result of President George W. Bush's biography with the search of "failure",
"miserable", and "miserable failure",
stating that Google has no control over and does not condone the act of
Google bombing. Apparently, people who sent in complaints believed that the
search results showed Google's political bias.
We don't condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action
that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we're also
reluctant to alter our results by hand in order 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. (Source: Google
Googlebombing in general
In some cases, the phenomenon has produced competing attempts to use the
same search term as a Googlebomb. As a result, the first result at any given
time varies, but the targeted sites will occupy all the top slots using a
normal search instead of "I'm feeling lucky". Notable instances of this
include failure and miserable failure.
The primary targets have been the Bush biography above, and Michael Moore's
website at www.michaelmoore.com.
Searching for miserabile fallimento (Italian for "miserable
failure") was at one time returning Berlusconi biography, but as of 20th
December 2005 returns a report on the phenomenon from an Italian news
website, portalino.it .
It is interesting to note that because of the popularity of Google, other
search engines such as Yahoo!, AltaVista, and HotBot are also affected by
Google Bombs. A search of "miserable
failure" on the aforementioned search
engines produces the biography of George W. Bush listed at the White
House site as the first link on the list. Only a few
search engines, such as Ask Jeeves!,
MetaCrawler and ProFusion, do not produce the same first links as the rest
of the search engines. MetaCrawler and
ProFusion are metasearch engines which use multiple
search engines. This might explain why they
do not produce the biography of George W. Bush listed at the White House
site as the first link on the list when searching for "miserable
Googlebombing as Political Activism
Obviously, some of the most famous google bombs are also expressions of
political opinion (e.g. "liar" leading to Blair or "failure" leading to
Bush.) In general, one of the keys to Google's success has been its ability
to capture what ordinary web citizens believe to be important via the
information provided in webpage links. One of Google's failures has been
their inability to stop organized / commercial exploitation of their
algorithms. But is a googlebomb an exploitation, or a democratic expression
of opinion? Does organization in itself imply misuse?
One extremely succesful, long-lasting and widespread link bomb has been the
linking of the term "Scientology" to Operation Clambake. In this case, the
index rating clearly emerges from both the individual decisions of
pagewriters and reporters and an organized effort lead by the Operation
Clambake itself. In this case, the "bombers" believe they may be saving
people's lives by giving them important information. The Church of
Scientology has also sometimes been accused of an attempt at googlebombing
for making a large number of websites linking terms "Scientology" and "L.
Ron Hubbard" to eachother.
A google bomb could be achieved easily, this is a possible scenario :
The initator chooses a word to be searched : "malakes"
The initiator chooses the target website : "http://www.syn.gr/" (a political
The initiator creates a link like this : <a
The initiator places this code in his website, as his signature in forum, in
his blogs etc.
The initiator talks to other people about the bomb and tells other people to
use the code in their own writings.
People use the link --> malakes <--
GoogleBot indexes and ranks, resulting in
having the political party's webpage as a first result
There is actually a blog about google bombs, that people wanting to initate
a google bomb visit, and submit their bombs. People watching this blog
include the bombs in their blogs. : http://gbombs.blogspot.com/ This blog
has been used in the past to initate political bombs mainly, in many
Some unscrupulous website operators have adapted googlebombing techniques
One such technique is the posting of links to a site in an Internet forum
along with phrases the promoter hopes to associate with the site. Unlike
conventional message board spam, the object is not to attract readers to the
site directly, but to increase the site's ranking under those search terms.
Promoters using this technique frequently target forums with low reader
traffic, in hopes that it will fly under the moderators' radar. Wikis in
particular are often the target of this kind of page rank vandalism, as all
of the pages are freely editable.
Another technique is for the owner of an Internet domain name to set up the
domain's DNS entry so that all subdomains are directed to the same server.
The operator then sets up the server so that page requests generate a page
full of desired Google search terms, each linking to a subdomain of the same
site, with the same title as the subdomain in the requested URL. Frequently
the subdomain matches the linked phrase, with spaces replaced by underscores
or hyphens. Since Google treats subdomains as distinct sites, the effect of
a large number of subdomains linking to each other is a boost to the
PageRank of those subdomains and of any other
site they link to.
As of 2 February 2005, many have noticed changes in the Google algorithm
that largely affects, among other things, Googlebombs. As evidence of this,
ponder that only roughly 10% of the googlebombs listed below work as of 15
February 2005. This is largely due to Google refactoring its valuation of
PageRank, mostly in an effort to keep up with
the encroaching result relevancy of the Yahoo and MSN
search engines, which many people claim are
not nearly as easy to "hack" as Google.
The Quixtar Google bombing example
In 2005, multi-level marketing giant Quixtar began a "Quixtar Web
Initiative" to manipulate Google results. The project was considered by many
to be a clear and flagrant violation of Google's Quality Guidelines.
According to a web article called Quixtar Admits Google Bombing, a Quixtar
Diamond told members that the company had "hired geekoids who were spending
their time Google bombing positive info about Quixtar so that the negative
sites would be buried way down at the bottom of the Google list when a
prospect types in Quixtar [in a search engine].
Nobody will even be able to find the negative sites anymore."
The goal presented was to smother anti-Quixtar sites, such as a consumer
protection group, an eBook about Amway and Quixtar, and grassroots movements
from ex-Quixtar members that claim Amway and Quixtar are Pyramid schemes,
cults, and use deceptive business practices.
Quixtar's attempt to lower the ranking of such negative web sites backfired,
and, for a few months, Quixtar's Google results suffered for its attempted
As of September 2005, a search on Google for "Quixtar " reveals that
Quixtar.com is again the number one result.
The organized effort to manipulate search
engine results was first brought to light by bloggers which detailed the
evidence in an article "So Busted".
Ironically, the site that reported Quixtar's attempt to Google bomb once
occupied the first search position under "Quixtar". Often, in fact, a
majority of the top ten results for the term "Quixtar" are sites critical of
the Quixtar business opportunity and its lines of sponsorship. This is mixed
in with real positive results, however, and helps to show both sides of the
Quixtar's initiative included at least 54 Quixtar Blogs and numerous other
company-related sites, character assassination blogs, adoration blogs, and
various other pages. Immediately after the exposure many of the blogs shut
down or reduced their content.
Some of Quixtar's independent lines of sponsorship have also been among the
largest abusers of Google bombing. These independent lines of sponsorship
are led by high-level Independent Business Owners, or IBOs, called Diamonds,
Crowns, and Crown Ambassadors.
Before Google existed, eccentric USENET poster Archimedes Plutonium,
upset with the attention he received from users who found him amusing,
posted an angry message to two science newsgroups. He accused these people
of "SearchEnginebombing," an offshoot of Emailbombing, that was cluttering
the web/USENET with negative comments about him, so a
search engine would find more of them than
his own postings. Unlike "Google Bombing", the term "Search
Engine Bombing" didn't immediately catch on, and initially its use has
been primarily limited to Archimedes Plutonium, and USENET posters who
Recent (as of 2005) and popular examples are:
1 returns the internet browser
Mozilla Firefox as the top result. Also, searching for
Internet Explorer in the top results. If this is a Googlebomb, and
not a mere coincidence, it would have been meant to convey that Mozilla
Firefox is the #1 browser, while pointing out that Internet Explorer is
"Arabian Gulf" - points to an error look-alike page saying that
"the gulf you are looking for does not exist." The page links to the
Wikipedia entry on the
Persian Gulf, the correct English name for the body of water east of
Arabian Peninsula and south of
Aweonao (chilean slang for asshole) in the Google Image
Search service shows chilean right-wing presidential candidate, Joaquin
Awful Announcer brings you to the official website of frequently
"bunch of luddites" - points to the homepage of the
Motion Picture Association of America.
Buffone - unofficial
Silvio Berlusconi (Italian Prime Minister) biography. "buffone" is
Italian for "clown". As of 23rd November 2005 this is now 2nd in the
buggy insecure browser used to return the
download.com page for
Internet Explorer. This was found to be particularly amusing when
entered into the address bar of IE's competitor
Firefox, which performed an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search that
automatically took the user to that page. The download.com link has
since slipped from the first few pages of results.
Despota Cachaceiro used to return the website of
Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, about the polemic
New York Times
Failure - Points to the biography of George W. Bush at the
official White House website; above
Michael Moore's web site. The term
Miserable Failure also leads to Bush's Biography.
First against the wall - Used to return the Wikipedia entry on
Food Nazis - Points to "Center for Science in Public Interest"
(which advocates strict regulatory oversight of genetically engineered
fuckwit used to return
John Prescott who is
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He rose through the
trade union movement from humble beginnings as a steward in the
merchant navy, and is renowned for his straight-talking manner and
general aura of incompetence.
gastrointestinal dysentery returns Kres Chophouse & Lounge in
a restaurant that fired a server for
blogging about work.
Gladjakker ("smoothie") returns website of
Camiel Eurlings, the leader of the
Dutch Christian-Democrat fraction in the
Great President points to the biography of George W. Bush at the
official White House website.
hell used to put
Microsoft's homepage in the top spot. Searching for
hell google microsoft returns reference to this.
Ignorant Asshole returns the website of Cal Thomas. The reason
ignorant bigots - returns the official page of
Christian Voice, a fundamentalist Christian organisation in the UK.
Insignifiant (French for "trivial"), returns the official page
of Jean Charest, Premier of the province of Quebec, in Canada.
International Sign for Choking in Google Images search use to
yield the logo of the
Philadelphia Eagles football team, shortly after their defeat in
Super Bowl XXXIX. The same search recently showed a logo of the
New York Yankees baseball team, in reference to their stunning ALCS
loss to the Red Sox in 2004. (As of June 2005, neither of these results
jämmerlicher Waschlappen (German
for "miserable washcloth") returns the government page of
Christoph Blocher, a Swiss Federal Council
JewWatch, an anti-semitic website operated by Frank Weltner, a
white power nationalist, currently is the number one hit when
searching on Google.com for "Jew",
perhaps because of its linking pattern. The
Wikipedia entry replaced it for a short time following a
Googlebombing campaign organized by
Daniel Sieradski, editor of the blog
Google added an explanation page entitled
Offensive Search Results and placed it in the sponsored link
kretyn (which means "cretin" in
Polish) - returns the page with information about
iznogoud (a character who wants to become number one) - Points
to "Biographie - Nicolas SARKOZY".
for "thieves") points to the homepage of SGAE, (Sociedad General de
Autores y Editores), the Spanish equivalent of the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The SGAE is an
extremely unpopular association in Spain since they not only try to
prosecute users of
applications, but also impose surcharges on the price of physical media
such as recordable CDs in order to account for the theoretical losses
due to P2P exchanges.
liar on google.co.uk - at one time returned
Tony Blair, the
Prime Minister, accused of misleading the public over
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (as of
Blair is second to the IMDB page for "Liar Liar") He is also 4th in the
world rankings at google.com, having earlier been on top.
litigious bastards gives the
homepage of the
Group, which initiated the
v. IBM lawsuit alleging copyright violation in the
bastards also worked.
lying sack of shit Used to return the Parliamentary web page of
Phillip Ruddock. This bomb was suggested by
weezil and executed by a number of Australian bloggers in protest of
Ruddock's criticism of
for 'dick') used to return the web page of the Belgian politician
Hugo Coveliers on google.be, after which Coveliers went to the
Federal Computer Crime Unit in Belgium.
Miserabile fallimento - official
Silvio Berlusconi (Italian Prime Minister) biography. "miserabile
fallimento" is the
Italian for "miserable failure".
worst president and
great president brings up the official George W. Bush biography
from the US White House web site. Due to the search query of "miserable
failure," the search terms
failure combined) also point to the biography of
George W. Bush, with
Michael Moore ranking number two. Recently, they've added
unelectable to point to the biography on the
White House's homepage. Interestingly enough,
www.unelectable.com also points to the same page, and is second in
Google's Search for "unelectable." See also
miserable failure. With the addition of
Google Local and Maps, searching for
the phrase in
Washington DC provides George W. Bush as the first result.
Mouton insignifiant (French
for "trivial sheep") - returns the official page of
Jean Charest, Premier of the province of
It refers to his curly hair.
National Disgrace - returns the official MLB biography of
Selig, commisioner of
Major League Baseball. The Googlebomb was organized to highlight
MLB's poor behavior in the process of moving the Montreal Expos to
Washington, D.C. and their hard-line stadium lease negotiation tactics.
Old Rice And Monkey Nuts returns the website of
Herald Sun columnist
Andrew Bolt. The phrase is an obscure reference to
Tirath Khemlani, a
Pakistani commodities trader who was involved in brokering an
improbable US$4 billion loan deal to the
Australian Government under Prime Minister
Gough Whitlam in
Khemlani was known derisively by his usual line of trade -
As he was involved in commodities and not financial transactions as a
rule, it was believed that Khemlani did not have access to the funds as
he claimed but would attempt to oblige the Australian Government of the
day to pay a huge commission for arranging the proposed loan. The bomb
was perpetrated at the suggestion of
Ausculture for reasons unknown.
Opportunist - Links to the web site for the leader of the
opposition in the UK.
Out of Touch Executives - Used to lead to Google's own corporate
Out of Touch Management used to work as well.
Pekeng Pangulo or "fake president" in
Filipino returns the official page of Philippine President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
UK domains only for
poodle gives you a link to a
Tony Blair biography (now the sixth result in the list).
- returns an official homepage of Robert Fico, a left-wing Slovakian
purge princess brings up the Senate Campaign blog of Katherine
¿Quién quiere estafarnos? (Spanish
for "Who wants to swindle us?") points to the homepage of Telecom,
provider of phone and ADSL services in southern Argentina. This bombing
was started at
http://bombardeo.blogspot.com because of the company's announcement
to limit download transfer to 4 GB per month (for 512 kbit/s
Raar Kapsel ("Weird Haircut" in
Dutch) - Returns the biography of the
Prime Minister of the Netherlands,
Jan Peter Balkenende, who is known for his distinctive hairstyle.
Santorum - "Spreading Santorum," a campaign to ridicule
Senator Santorum by naming a mixture of bodily substances after him
Scottish Raj returns the website of Gordon Brown, UK Chancellor
of the Exchequer. This googlebomb was initiated by
The Campaign for an English Parliament news blog, whose author
objected to Brown's calls for a renewed sense of Britishness and
ambition to become UK Prime Minister when his native Scotland has its
swivel eyed loons returns the homepage of the
Party after the phrase - initially used to describe the party by
blogger Anthony Wells - was adopted by several British bloggers.
terrorist sympathizer returns the homepage of
Bill O'Reilly, in reference to his comment that "every other place
in America is off limits to [terrorists], except San Francisco."
Velky bratr (Czech
Brother") - returns a biography of
Stanislav Gross, the Prime Minister of
völlige Inkompetenz (in eng. "total incompetence") returns the
Karl-Heinz Grasser, the
minister of finance.
Waffles - Used to lead to
John Kerry's 2004 election site, originated
here. A play on Kerry's opponents' accusations that he routinely
changed back and forth (or "waffled") between various political
positions as convenient.
- Weapons of mass destruction -
Internet Explorer Error look-alike joke page saying "weapons of
mass destruction cannot be found". (Note: as of
2004, the joke page, although still available at
, had fallen to 20th place in the Google search result.)
for "thieves") links to
Greek Telecommunications Organization. This is the result of a mass
protest against OTE's abusive charges.
French Military Victories returns a page similar to a Google
error message done by
albinoblacksheep.com making a political statement about France
for "liars"). After the "thieves" the "liars", links to
New_Democracy, a right wing Greek polical party that is in the
goverment of Greece at present.
for "miserable") links to Official Biography of ex-minister Angel Acebes.
Google Blog 2005-Jan-18 Preventing comment spam
Adam Mathes' original webzine article (first attacker)
Andy Pressman (first victim)
- "Googlebomb Watch" (http://blog.outer-court.com/googlebomb/)
- Keeping track of Googlebombs
Google hit by link bombers - BBC News,
Top of the Heap - Business 2.0,
2002 - Ego
Web Posters Launch Anti-Bush 'Google Bomb' - ABC News,
Engineering Google Results to Make a Point - NY Times,
Why Googling 'Waffles' Gets You John Kerry's Web Site - MTV News,
Kerry gets served up with 'waffles' - USA Today,
Student trying to 'bomb' Kerry - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Kerry Gets Google-Bombed - Wired News,
Dropping 'Google-bombs' - San Diego Union-Tribune,
The war on the web: Anthony Cox describes how his spoof error page
turned into a 'Google bomb' for weapons of mass destruction - The
Google Guide made by MultiMedia | Free content and software
This guide is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.