Feb 8, 2006

The Google Bomb lives on

Almost everyone reading this post would know what Google is and why it is the top search engine on the Web today. Type in a few words and you are guaranteed to find the most relevant website pertaining to that topic. Well, almost.

The set of algorithms that makes this possible is hailed as revolutionary in how it makes sense of the structure of the Web. The major innovation Google brought into Web search was the computation of value of a web-page on the basis of how many pages link to it, among many other things. This means that if page A links to page B, page B's value goes up; how much, depends on the value of page A itself. The algorithm is a work of genius. (On hindsight, it looks obvious enough; true genius always does.) But, like all software, it has loopholes.

The anatomy of a Google Bomb

As mentioned before, Google computes the value it assigns to page X on the basis of a number of factors, an important one being the number of pages linking to it and their respective values. However, it also does one more thing - it also notes the anchor text of that link and associates it with that page. That means if enough pages link to one particular site with the same text in its anchor, that word/phrase will be associated with the target site. That is exactly what a Google Bomb is.

Yes, that is right. The Google algorithm is not safe from attack. However, I will say that it is the more immune than others to the so-called black-hat techniques. Still don't believe me?Try searching for 'liar' or 'miserable failure' on Google and you will be surprised by what you find as the first search result.

This was done by a few Net-activists who set up enough pages with the above word/phrase as the anchor text and pointed it to the target site. (However, doing it on the same page won't give the desired result. You might even be black-listed by the Googlebot for spamming!)

It was first said that the Google Bomb was not a serious threat to the integrity of its search results. The temporal variables that Google has in its algorithm would defuse the bomb over a period of time, or after a couple of re-indexing. However, the 'miserable failure' search has been yielding the same first result for quite some time now. Maybe the Blogosphere is way too strong for Google to handle after all.

Read more - a few interesting links.

The Google Bomb
Google acknowledges the Google Bomb

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