Good-bye, Google Bomb
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Bloggers, take note: the old-school Google bomb is no more.
That's right, the online behemoth best known for its search engine says that it has rejiggered its legendary and proprietary technology so that online efforts by bloggers to manipulate its top-secret search algorithm to create cheeky, offensive and decidedly off-message answers to searches will no longer work.
"It was fun" while it lasted, said Rick Klau, a member of the Google strategic partner development content acquisition team, at a search engine optimization training session for political bloggers in Washington, D.C., this afternoon. But, he said, "Google bombs don't work anymore."
Indeed, the changes to eliminate Google bombs were instituted more than a year-and-a-half ago. But that hasn't stopped political bloggers of the left and right, who have announced (or worried over) fresh efforts to manipulate search engine rankings as recently as this May (see here) and June (see here, and here).
Here's how the old Google bombs worked: Say a group of people wanted to associate a certain Washington politician -- let's call him Mr. Smith -- with a particular insult -- like sleazeball -- and have articles about Mr. Smith come up high in Google search results when people search for the keyword, sleazeball. They would all link to Mr. Smith's Web page, wrapping the link's HTML code around the word sleazeball.
Presto-chango: Via the links, the algorithm made a connection between the name and the subject matter, and adjusted accordingly.
That doesn't work anymore, said Klau, because the company today can spot these swarms and neutralize their effect. "We are far more perceptive when it comes to these link swarms that show up in a matter of hours or days," said Klau.
So why haven't bloggers stopped trying to game the system? Work-arounds may be one reason. So might the increasingly sophisticated nature of today's Google bombs -- what Open Left's Chris Bowers calls a "2.0 version of the Googlebomb" -- where the goal is to influence the search rank of a slew of negative news articles about a politician rather than tie his name to a keyword.
Klau said that he's "not aware of any [successful] Google bombs or equivalents over the past year" -- but the new efforts aren't Google bombs, per se.
As Bowers explained it, "What I'm doing isn't a Google bomb." It's a much harder to detect effort "to alternately optimize John McCain" in the Google search engine rankings, by linking his name to nine mainstream new organizations's stories that raise questions about the GOP presidential contender.
So good-bye Google bomb; hello, Google bomb 2.0.
Posted by: NoVA Dem | July 25, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Alex Harman | July 24, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Muriel | July 24, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jimbob | July 24, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: chris | July 24, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Thad | July 24, 2008 3:22 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: GoodbyeRepublicans08 | July 24, 2008 2:48 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jess | July 24, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: premier | July 24, 2008 2:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jaan Kanellis | July 24, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: playa | July 23, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Demerzel | July 23, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Heywood Floyd | July 23, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 23, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.