It was Archimedes Plutonium, a celebrity on USENET in 1997, who first coined the term search engine bombing. The phenomenon was an obscure one at first. It wasn’t until two years later that search engine bombing activity achieved results sensational enough to be of interest to the general public. Tech magazines first reported on the phenomenon over one interesting case – when anyone searched with the phrase more evil than Satan himself, Google came up with Microsoft.com as the number one result.
As sensational instances continued to be reported and talked about, the phenomenon got its official name in 2005 – the Oxford American Dictionary defined it as Google bombing.
What exactly is Google bombing?
Google bombing is a kind of search engine optimization trick performed on a website or name to associate it with a specific (often insulting or comical) search phrase. For instance, whoever was behind the more evil than Satan himself attack of 1999 must have hated Microsoft and wanted to make a statement against the company. With the right kind of manipulative search engine optimization, the attacker would have made Google associate the Microsoft website with any searches for the phrase more evil than Satan himself.
Over the years, people have used Google bombing to ridicule hundreds of people, both famous and unknown. Sometimes people skilled in search engine optimization manage to use Google bombing to settle personal grudges too. People attacked in this way may sue and win compensation.
How does Google bombing work?
Google bombing is mostly used for public protest. Here are some of the most well-known instances:
- When George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, it was reported worldwide that searching for the term miserable failure brought up the President’s bio on the White House website.
- Someone managed to successfully link the phrase dangerous cult with the Church of Scientology in 2008.
- In 2011, antiabortion activists managed to Google bomb major sites related to abortion information. For instance, if you searched for the word murder, you would get Wikipedia’s Abortion page on top.
Google bombing mainly works using standard search engine optimization methods to manipulate the way a site ranks on Google through Google’s PageRank algorithm (the methods used work on other search engines, as well). To Google bomb someone, you need to be able to put links pointing to the target website on many other websites around the Internet. You must also associate those links with the phrase that you want. It isn’t very difficult to achieve this – you simply need time, resources and patience.
Plan your attack
For a successful Google bombing assault, you’ll need access to dozens of websites across the Internet. If it’s an attack on a famous person, it’s possible that you’ll find other people interested in making a statement, too. You could simply advertise your intent on a forum visited by like-minded people and find volunteers willing to put your manipulative links on their own websites.
Alternatively, you could try spending $200 or so on a membership to a link building network. When you sign up to one of these networks, you get access to hundreds of blogs and websites around the world. These networks are set up to help search engine optimizers build links to promote their commercial websites.You can use these networks to build all the Google bombing links that you need, though.
Begin to build links
Once you have a list of websites to build your links on, you simply need to write a short article on each and include the intended link with anchor text in it (anchor text is the text mentioned on a link). In the George W. Bush example above, for instance, the Google bomber would have written short articles with the phrase miserable failure in them and then hyperlinked the phrases to the Bush bio on the White House website.
You need to write a slightly different article on each website to make sure that you aren’t flagged by Google for content duplication.
Google should do the rest of the work for you
Once you have links and anchor text in place on many websites, Google’s spiders should begin to notice everywhere that they go as they crawl the Web each day, that a certain phrase is constantly associated with a certain website. Right away, Google will think that the phrase and the site are linked in some meaningful way. When anyone searches for that phrase, then, Google will helpfully offer that site up.
All that remains is for you to spread the word about what you’ve achieved. If your Google bombing makes a clever statement, people should take notice. As long as you are only making a statement and not actually harming anyone, your stunt should be good fun.