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Google bombing here causes the search query "miserable failure" to be associated with George W. Bush and Michael Moore

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, often with humorous or political intentions.[1] Before 2007, Google's search-rank algorithm could rank a page higher if enough other sites linked to that page using similar anchor text (linking text such as "miserable failure");[2] but Google changed the ranking by January 2007 to instead list pages about the repeated linking of that text.[2] Google bomb is used both as a verb and a noun. The phrase "Google bombing" was introduced to the New Oxford American Dictionary in May 2005.[3] Google bombing is closely related to spamdexing, the practice of deliberately modifying HTML pages to increase the chance of their website being placed close to the beginning of search engine results, or to influence the category to which the page is assigned in a misleading or dishonest manner.

The term Googlewashing was coined in 2003 to describe the use of media manipulation to change the perception of a term, or push out competition from search engine results pages (SERPs).[4]



Google bombs date back as far as 1999, when a search for "more evil than Satan himself" resulted in the Microsoft homepage as the top result.[5]

In September 2000 the first Google bomb with a verifiable creator was created by Hugedisk Men's Magazine, a now-defunct online humor magazine, when it linked the text "dumb motherfucker" to a site selling George W. Bush-related merchandise.[6] Hugedisk had also unsuccessfully attempted to Google bomb an equally derogatory term to bring up an Al Gore-related site. After a fair amount of publicity the George W. Bush-related merchandise site retained lawyers and sent a cease and desist letter to Hugedisk, thereby ending the Google bomb.[7]

Adam Mathes is credited with coining the term "Google bombing" when he mentioned it in an article that appeared on 6 April 2001 in the online magazine In the article Mathes details his connection of the search term "talentless hack" to the website of his friend Andy Pressman by recruiting fellow webloggers to link to his friend's page with the desired term.[8] However, Archimedes Plutonium is known to have used the phrase "search engine bombing" (and variants, including "searchengine bombing" and "searchenginebombed") on Usenet as early as 1997.[9]

I'm feeling lucky

I'm Feeling Lucky is a Google feature that leads directly to its top-ranked page. In the first four days of July after the second Iraq War began on March 20, 2003, entering "weapons of mass destruction" and clicking I'm Feeling Lucky returned a fake 404 error, now archived at These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed.[10]

Beyond Google

Other search engines use similar techniques to rank results, so Yahoo!, AltaVista, and HotBot are also affected by Google bombs. A search for "miserable failure" or "failure" on 29 September 2006 brought up the official George W. Bush biography number one on Google, Yahoo! and MSN and number two on On 2 June 2005, Yooter reported that George Bush was ranked first for the keyword 'miserable', 'failure' and 'miserable failure' in both Google and Yahoo!, Google has since addressed this and disarmed the George Bush Google bomb and many others.

The BBC, reporting on Google bombs in 2002, used the headline "Google Hit By Link Bombers",[11] acknowledging to some degree the idea of "link bombing." In 2004, the Search Engine Watch site suggested that the term should be "link bombing" because of its application beyond Google, and continues to use that term as it is considered more accurate.[12]

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.


By January 2007, Google changed their indexing structure[2] so that Google bombs such as "Miserable failure" would "typically return commentary, discussions, and articles"[2] about the tactic itself. Google announced the changes on its official blog. In response to criticism for allowing the Google bombs, Matt Cutts, the head of the Google’s Webspam team, said that Google bombs had not “been a very high priority for us.”[2][14]

Over time, we’ve seen more people assume that they are Google’s opinion, or that Google has hand-coded the results for these Google-bombed queries. That’s not true, and it seemed like it was worth trying to correct that misperception.




In May 2004, the websites Dark Blue and SearchGuild teamed up to create what they termed the "SEO Challenge" to Google bomb the phrase "nigritude ultramarine".[citation needed]

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 the Google bombers.

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.[citation needed]

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".

Political activism

Some of the most famous Google bombs are also expressions of political opinion (e.g. "liar" leading to Tony Blair or "miserable failure" leading to the White House's biography of George W. Bush).

In 2003, Steven Lerner, creator of Albino Blacksheep, created a parody webpage titled "French Military Victories". When typed into Google, the first result leads to a page that resembles Google, which reads, "Your search - French military victories - did not match any documents. Did you mean French military defeats?" The page received over 50,000 hits within 18 hours of its release. Links near the top of the page led to a simplified list of French military history. The page is still first in results for "French military victories."[16]

In 2004, Jewish writer and activist Daniel Sieradski urged visitors to his blog to link to the Wikipedia article for "Jew" in response to findings, first publicized by Steven Weinstock[17][18], that a search for "Jew" returned the anti-Semitic website Jew Watch at the top of the results. The campaign was successful in displacing the site from the top result, although still appears on the first page of search results.[19] In the same year the Persian Gulf naming dispute was the subject of a Google bomb by an Iranian blogger named Pendar Yousefi.[20][21][22]

Another campaign was organized by columnist Dan Savage after former US Senator Rick Santorum made several controversial statements regarding homosexuality. The Google bombing was part of Savage's campaign to start using the word "santorum" for "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex," and propelled the website created for that purpose to a high result for "santorum".[23]

In France, groups opposing the DADVSI copyright bill, proposed by minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, mounted a Google bombing campaign linking ministre blanchisseur ("laundering minister") to an article recalling Donnedieu de Vabres' conviction for money laundering. The campaign was so efficient that, as of 2006, merely searching for ministre ("minister") or blanchisseur ("launderer") brings up a news report of his conviction as one of the first results.[24]

In 2004, after the controversy that erupted in the Philippines over the allegations that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had cheated in the elections, the phrase "pekeng pangulo" ("fake president") was linked to her official website.

In 2004, kretyn (Polish for moron) and similar insults referring to stupidity was linked to websites of various Polish politicians including Andrzej Lepper and Roman Giertych.

In 2005 an Estonian blogger led a successful campaign to link the word masendav (Estonian for dismal or depressive) to the homepage of Estonian Centre Party.[25] The Centre Party's website still ranks first in the results for masendav.[26]

In the 2006 US midterm elections, many left-wing bloggers, led by, banded together to propel neutral or negative articles about many Republican House candidates to the top of Google searches for their names.[1] Right-wing bloggers responded similarly.[27]

In 2006, Siedziba szatana (satan's headquarters) was linked to the website of controversial christian broadcasting company Radio Maryja.

In January 2007, Google announced they altered their search engine algorithm to significantly reduce the effectiveness of the technique.[28]

In March 2007, the Washington Post reported that Nikolas Schiller was able to Google bomb "Redacted Name" to highlight his website's block on search engines.[29]

In September 2008, John Key, leader of the New Zealand National Party was Google Bombed with the query "clueless".[30]

In January 2009, a successful google bomb was performed against the site of the Bulgarian Government by a loose group of bloggers and forum users. It was discovered that by mistake, the robots.txt on the forbade the crawling of the site by indexing machines which allowed for google bombing. The group linked the search term "провал" (failure) to the government site. Within a couple of days, the first search result for "провал" was the Bulgarian Government's site regardless of the search results language.[31]

In April 2009, the website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books launched a google bomb against Amazon in response to its removal of GLBT material from their ranking lists, Amazon citing it as "adult material". Within hours of its creation the page appeared on the first page of returned search results for the term "Amazon Rank".[32]

In July 2009, Opie and Anthony successfully performed a new method of Google Bombing in which a specific word or phrase is artificially raised in the Google Trends reporting. The phrase 'Rev Al is a racist' was made #1 on Google Trends for 07-08-09[33] due to the controversial comments made by Reverend Al Sharpton during Michael Jackson's Memorial Service. "Corey Feldman is Hurting" was also number 14 on the top Google Trends for the same day in response to Feldman dressing up as Michael Jackson during the memorial service.[34][35]

In France, in July 2009, "trou du cul du web" (eng : The Asshole of the Internet) returned as the first result the official website of French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

In Iran, in September 2009, the phrase "ahmadinejad president of iran" returned a fake google search page which reads, "Did you mean: ahmadinejad is NOT president of iran. No standard web pages containing all your search terms were found". The phrase which is suggested by the fake google page, ahmadinejad is NOT president of Iran, is linked to a video explaining events happening in iran after 2009 presidential election.

In february 2010, When you write "Where you can find Chuck Norris" on Google, and then you click on "I'm Feeling Lucky", it is shown a fake google response page saying "Google won't search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don't find Chuck Norris, he finds you. and offers alternate suggestions such as Run, before he finds you or try a different person."

Commercial use

Some website operators have adapted Google bombing techniques to do spamdexing. This includes, among other techniques, posting of links to a site in an Internet forum along with phrases the promoter hopes to associate with the site (see Spam in blogs). 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. This practice was also called "money bombing" by John Hiler circa 2004.[36][37]

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 many subdomains linking to each other is a boost to the PageRank of those subdomains and of any other site they link to.

On 2 February 2007, many have noticed changes in the Google algorithm that largely affects, among other things, Google bombs: only roughly 10% of the Google bombs worked as of 15 February 2007. This is largely due to Google refactoring its valuation of PageRank.[38]

Quixtar's bomb

Quixtar, a multi-level marketing company, has been accused by its critics of using its large network of websites to move sites critical of Quixtar lower in search engine rankings. A Quixtar IBO reports that a Quixtar leader advocated the practice in a meeting of Quixtar IBO's. Quixtar denies wrongdoing and states that its practices are in accordance with search engine rules.[39]

See also


  1. ^ a b Zeller, Tom Jr. (26 October 2006). "A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data". The New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)): p. A.20.  (Note: payment required, weblink goes to abstract.)
  2. ^ a b c d e Google Halts ‘Miserable Failure’ Link to President Bush - New York Times
  3. ^ Price, Gary (16 May 2005). "Google and Google Bombing Now Included New Oxford American Dictionary". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved 2007-01-29. .
  4. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (3 April 2003). "Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed ... in 42 days.". The Register. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Danny (18 March 2002). "Google Bombs Aren't So Scary". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  6. ^ Manjoo, Fahrad (25 January 2001). "Google Link is Bush League". Wired News.,1282,41401,00.html. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  7. ^ Calore, Michael; Scott Gilbertson (26 January 2001). "Remembering the First Google Bomb". Wired News. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  8. ^ Mathes, Adam (April 6, 2001). "Filler Friday: Google Bombing". 
  9. ^ "Law and Order on Net and Web". 17 September 1997. 
  10. ^ The war on the web: Anthony Cox describes how his spoof error page turned into a 'Google bomb' for weapons of mass destruction. - The Guardian, 10 July 2003, accessed 2009-02-12
  11. ^ "Google Hit By Link Bombers". BBC. 13 March 2002. 
  12. ^ Yooter SEO blog
  13. ^ Official Google Blog: Googlebombing 'failure'
  14. ^ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Miserable Failure
  15. ^ Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: A quick word about Googlebombs
  16. ^ Dalton, Richard J., Jr. (13 March 2003). "Internet Parody Hands French Military a Defeat". Newsday: p. A.27. Retrieved 2007-02-04.  (payment required, link goes to abstract)
  17. ^ Google caught in anti-Semitism flap
  18. ^ Dropping the Bomb on Google
  19. ^ CNet article discussing the Google bomb.
  20. ^ Global Voices Online » Interview with Pendar Yousefi: Blogger, Designer and Google Bomber
  21. ^ Legofish :: Google Bomb
  22. ^ The Persian Gulf - The Arabian Gulf Google Bomb
  23. ^ Anal Sex Byproduct Named for Senator Santorum : LA IMC
  24. ^ French Web page describing "laundering minister" Google bomb.
  25. ^ "Google'i otsing seob sõnad «masendav» ja «Keskerakond»" (in Estonian). Postimees. 2005-10-21. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  26. ^ masendav - Google Search
  27. ^ Political bloggers coordinate 'Google Bombs' - National Journal -
  28. ^ Jacqui Cheng (26 January 2007). "Google defuses Googlebombs". News. ARS Technica. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  29. ^ David Montgomery (14 March 2007). "Here Be Dragons". News. Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  30. ^ Key Google-bombed << Homepaddock
  31. ^ Sofia Echo coverage
  32. ^ Amazon Rank
  33. ^
  34. ^ Corey Feldman is hurting…or is it a Google bomb?
  35. ^ Google Bomb Corey Feldman is hurting
  36. ^ Kopytoff, Verne (2004-01-26). "Google targeted by pranksters: Web site operators, bloggers skew results". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  37. ^ Ochoa, George, and Corey, Melinda (2005). The 100 Best Trends 2006: Emerging Developments You Can't Afford to Ignore. Adams Media. p. 213. ISBN 1593374518. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  38. ^ Google Answers explanation of algorithm changes.
  39. ^ Glaser, Mark. "Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism." 1 June 2005. USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. Accessed 1 December 2006.

News articles


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also googlebomb


Wikipedia has an article on:



Google bomb

Google bombs

Google bomb (plural Google bombs)

  1. An attempt to influence the page ranking of a webpage within the Google search engine by linking to it from many other sources


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