World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Google bomb

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

The terms Google bomb and Googlewashing refer to the practice of causing a web page to rank highly in search engine results for unrelated or off-topic search terms by linking heavily. In contrast, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the search engine listings of web pages for relevant search terms.

It is done for either business, political, or comedic purposes (or some combination thereof).[1] Google's Michael Moore; now, search results list pages about the Google bomb itself.[2] As of October 2015, the first result in a Google search for "miserable failure" is this WorldHeritage article, defining Google bomb, although at least four of the following results show links related to Bush. Used both as a verb and a noun, "Google bombing" was introduced to the New Oxford American Dictionary in May 2005.[3]

Google bombing is related to spamdexing, the practice of deliberately modifying HTML 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.[4]

The term Googlewashing was coined by Andrew Orlowski 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).[5][6]


  • History 1
  • Uses as tactical media 2
  • Alternative meanings 3
  • Google bowling 4
  • Other search engines 5
  • Motivations 6
    • Competitions 6.1
    • Political activism 6.2
    • Commercial use 6.3
      • Quixtar's bomb 6.3.1
      • GoDaddy bomb 6.3.2
      • Other examples of Google bombs 6.3.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8


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.[7]

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 cease-and-desist letter to Hugedisk, thereby ending the Google bomb.[9]

Adam Mathes is credited with coining the term "Google bombing" when he mentioned it in an April 6, 2001 article 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.[10]

Uses as tactical media

The Google Bomb has been used for tactical media as a way of performing a "hit-and-run" media attack on popular topics. Such attacks include Anthony Cox's attack in 2003. He created a parody of the "404 – page not found" browser error message in response to the war in Iraq. The page looked like the error page but was titled "These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed". This website could be found as one of the top hits on Google after the start of the war in Iraq.[11] Also, in an attempt to detract attention from the right-wing group English Defence League (EDL), a parody group has been made known as "English Disco Lovers", with the expressed purpose of Google bombing the acronym.[12]

Alternative meanings

The Google bomb is often misunderstood by those in the media and publishing industry who do not retain technical knowledge of Google's ranking factors. For example, talk radio host Alex Jones has often conducted what he calls "Google bombs" by dispatching instructions to his radio/Internet listeners.[13][14] In this context the term is used to describe a rapid and massive influx of keyword searches for a particular phrase. The keyword surge gives the impression that the related content has suddenly become popular. The strategy behind this type of Google bombing is to attract attention from the larger mainstream media and influence them to publish content related to the keyword.

Google bowling

By studying what types of ranking manipulations a search engine is using, a company can provoke a search engine into lowering the ranking of a competitor's website. This practice, known as Google bowling, is often done by purchasing Google bombing services (or other SEO techniques) not for one's own website, but rather for that of a competitor. The attacker provokes the search company into punishing the "offending" competitor by displaying their page further down in the search results.[15][16] For victims of Google bowling, it may be difficult to appeal the ranking decrease because Google avoids explaining penalties, preferring not to "educate" real offenders. If the situation is clear-cut, however, Google could lift the penalty after submitting a request for reconsideration. Furthermore, after the Google Penguin update, Google search rankings now take Google bowling into account and according to various sources, very rarely will a website be penalized due to low-quality "farm" backlinks.[17]

Other search engines

Other search engines use similar techniques to rank results, so

The BBC, reporting on Google bombs in 2002, used the headline "Google Hit By Link Bombers",[18] acknowledging to some degree the idea of "link bombing". In 2004, Search Engine Watch suggested that the term be "link bombing" because of its application beyond Google, and continues to use that term as it is considered more accurate.[19]

By January 2007, Google changed its indexing structure[2] so that Google bombs such as "miserable failure" would "typically return commentary, discussions, and articles" about the tactic itself.[2] Google announced the changes on its official blog. In response to criticism for allowing the Google bombs, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, said that Google bombs had not “been a very high priority for us”.[2][21]



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".[23]

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.

In March 2005's issue of .net magazine published, a contest was created among five professional web developers to make their site the number-one site for the made-up phrase "crystalline incandescence".

Political activism

Some of the most famous Google bombs are also expressions of political opinions (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".[24] When typed into Google, the first result (or the "I'm Feeling Lucky" result) led to a webpage resembling a Google error message, reading, "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 only war listed as a win for the French was the French Revolution, in which they fought themselves. As of May 2, 2011, the page is no longer listed in Google's first few results for "French military victories", but several links on the list go to sites recounting the joke.[25]
  • In 2004, Jewish writer and activist Daniel Sieradski urged visitors to his blog to link to the WorldHeritage article for "Jew" in response to findings, first publicized by Steven Weinstock,[27][28] that a search for "Jew" returned the anti-Semitic website Jew Watch at the top of the results.[29] The campaign was successful in displacing the site from the top result.
  • Also, in 2004, a Google bomb involving searching "ladrones" (Spanish for thieves) on Google linked the SGAE website.
  • 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 on 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.[33]
  • 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" (Tagalog for "fake president") was linked to her official website.
  • In December 2004, the "Yan Ang Pinay" ("I am a Filipina") campaign[34] encouraged bloggers to self-identify as Filipina and link the word sites in search results. mail-order bride to displace [35]
  • In 2004, kretyn (Polish for moron) and similar insults referring to stupidity were 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.[36] The Centre Party's website still ranks first in the results for masendav as of 2011.[37]
  • In the 2006 U.S. 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]
  • Also in 2006, Siedziba szatana (satan's headquarters) was linked to the website of controversial Christian broadcaster Radio Maryja.[38]
  • In January 2007, Google announced a change in its search engine algorithm to significantly reduce the effectiveness of the technique.[39]
  • 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.[40]
  • During the initial stages of the anti-Scientology campaign, Project Chanology, hackers and other members of an anonymous Internet group Google-bombed the Church of Scientology's main website as the first match found when the term "Dangerous Cult" was searched.[41]
  • 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 "failure" (Bulgarian: провал) 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.[43]
  • In April 2009, the website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books launched a Google bomb against Amazon in response to its removal of LGBT 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".[44]
  • 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 Google Trends. The phrase "Rev Al is a racist" was made #1 on Google Trends on July 8, 2009,[45] 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.[46][47]
  • In France, in July 2009, "trou du cul du web" ("Asshole of the Internet") returned as the first result the official website of French president Nicolas Sarkozy; in September 2010, the same tactic resulted in President Sarkozy's Facebook page being the first result. As of May 2014, the top 10 results for the same Google search contain references to 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 webpages containing all your search terms were found".[48] 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 Iranian presidential election, 2009.[49]
  • In September 2010, 4chan users tried to Google bomb the phrase "Robert Pisano MPAA CEO arrested for child molestation!", as a related action to DDoS attacks on the RIAA, MPAA and British Phonographic Industry (BPI) websites. This was in retaliation for DDoS attacks carried out on The Pirate Bay and various other file-sharing sites.[50]
  • In February 2011, several pro-life activists managed to make it so that the page for abortion on English WorldHeritage was the second highest ranking result for the term "murder".[51][52][53]
  • During the summer of 2011, a joke in response to Craig James’ role in the firing of Mike Leach was posted on The joke was indexed often enough by a major search engine that typing "Craig James" into the search box at the search engine resulted in the autocomplete function including "killed 5 hookers".[54] Later this humorous search index behavior was characterized as a "Google bomb" in regards to Craig James’ campaign for elected office.[55]
  • In July 2012, searching for "plagiator" (Romanian for "plagiarist/cheater") returns the personal page of Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta, who is accused of plagiarizing his PhD thesis, and various news websites which provide information about the scandal that erupted around the politician. This Google bomb has become itself a piece of news in the Romanian media.[56]
  • In October 2012, searching the phrase "completely wrong" on Google images, returns pictures of Mitt Romney, the Republican Nominee for the U.S. Presidential Election in 2012. However, this was not actually an example of a google bomb - the result came naturally from a series of comments made by Romney, rather than a concentrated campaign intended to link the two. [57]
  • In September 2012 the English Disco Lovers campaign was initiated with the intention of replacing the English Defence League (EDL) as the number one result for EDL on Google.[58] On 27 August 2013 the English Disco Lovers overtook all English defence league related items and became the top search result for the acronym "EDL".
  • In June 2015 the search query "top 10 criminals" returned the images of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alongside the images of terrorists, murderers and dictators. However, in an official statement Google apologized[59] and said that it was due to an erroneous meta data published by a British daily.[60]

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.[61][62]

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

On February 2, 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 February 15, 2007. This is largely due to Google refactoring its valuation of PageRank.[63][64]

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 independent business owner (IBO) reports that a Quixtar leader advocated the practice in a meeting of Quixtar IBOs. Quixtar denies wrongdoing and states that its practices are in accordance with search engine rules.[65]

GoDaddy bomb

On December 26, 2011, a bomb was started against GoDaddy to remove them from the #1 place on Google for "domain registration" in retaliation for its support for SOPA.[66] This was then disseminated through Hacker News.[67]

Other examples of Google bombs

In Australia, one of the first examples of Google bombs was when the keyword "old rice and monkey nuts" was used to generate traffic for Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt's website. The keyword phrase references the alleged $4 billion in loan deals brokered by Tirath Khemlani to Australia in 1974.[68]

See also


  1. ^ a b Zeller, Tom Jr. (October 26, 2006). "A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data".   (Note: payment required, weblink goes to abstract.)
  2. ^ a b c d Cohen, Noam (January 29, 2007). "Google Halts ‘Miserable Failure' Link to President Bush". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ Price, Gary (May 16, 2005). "Google and Google Bombing Now Included New Oxford American Dictionary". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved January 29, 2007. .
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Andrew A. Adams; Rachel McCrindle (15 February 2008). Pandora's Box: Social and Professional Issues of the Information Age. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 122–123.  
  7. ^ Sullivan, Danny (March 18, 2002). "Google Bombs Aren't So Scary". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved January 29, 2007. 
  8. ^ Manjoo, Fahrad (January 25, 2001). "Google Link is Bush League". Wired News. Archived from the original on April 5, 2001. Retrieved January 26, 2007. 
  9. ^ Calore, Michael; Scott Gilbertson (January 26, 2001). "Remembering the First Google Bomb". Wired News. Archived from the original on February 25, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2007. 
  10. ^ Mathes, Adam (April 6, 2001). "Filler Friday: Google Bombing". 
  11. ^ "Interface as a Conflict of Ideologies". April 2007. 
  12. ^ EDL - English Disco Lovers NOT English Defence League - Home
  13. ^ Schoff, Hans. "How to Google Bomb - Mastering Internet Marketing Strategies | Hans Schoff's Official Home Based Income Blog". Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Greenberg, Andy (June 28, 2007). "The Saboteurs Of Search". Forbes. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  16. ^ Pedone, Michael (October 27, 2005). "Google Bowling: How Competitors Can Sabotage You; What Google Should Do About It". Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  17. ^ "What is Google Bowling And Negative SEO?". SEO Empire. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "Google Hit By Link Bombers". BBC. March 13, 2002. 
  19. ^ "Yooter SEO blog". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  20. ^ Mayer, Marissa (September 16, 2005). "'"Official Google Blog: Googlebombing 'failure. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Miserable Failure". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: A quick word about Googlebombs". January 25, 2007. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  23. ^ Karch, Marziah. "Google Bombs Explained". Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  24. ^ "french military victories". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  25. ^ Dalton, Richard J., Jr. (March 13, 2003). "Internet Parody Hands French Military a Defeat". Newsday. p. A.27. Retrieved February 4, 2007.  (payment required, link goes to abstract)
  26. ^ McMorris-Santoro, Evan (July 21, 2011). "With His Campaign Lagging, Rick Santorum Turns Once Again To Dan Savage". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ Becker, David. "Google caught in anti-Semitism flap". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  28. ^ John Brandon (May 11, 2004). "Dropping the Bomb on Google". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Google caught in anti-Semitism flap - CNET News". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  30. ^ Hamid Tehrani. "Interview with Pendar Yousefi: Blogger, Designer and Google Bomber". Global Voices Online. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  31. ^ "The Google Bomb Story". Mahimoto. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  32. ^ "The Arabian Gulf Google Bomb". The Persian Gulf. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Bombardement Google à la française - Palpitt - Metablog". Palpitt. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  34. ^ Yan Ang Filipina
  35. ^ "Resurrecting the image of a true Filipina". Filipina Soul. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  36. ^ """Google'i otsing seob sõnad "masendav" ja "Keskerakond.  
  37. ^ "Google". Google. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Siedziba szatana w Radiu Maryja". Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  39. ^ Jacqui Cheng (January 26, 2007). "Google defuses Googlebombs". News. ARS Technica. Retrieved January 27, 2007. 
  40. ^ David Montgomery (March 14, 2007). "Here Be Dragons". News. Retrieved March 14, 2007. 
  41. ^ Miller, Jason Lee (January 29, 2008). "Scientology Bomb Cruises Past Google". WebProNews: Breaking eBusiness and Search News (iEntry, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  42. ^ "Google bomb targets John Key".  
  43. ^ byRene Beekman (February 25, 2009). "Sofia Echo coverage". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  44. ^ SB Sarah (April 12, 2009). "Amazon Rank". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Google Trends: Jul 8, 2009". Google. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  46. ^ "Corey Feldman is hurting…or is it a Google bomb?". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  47. ^ "Google Bomb Corey Feldman is hurting". July 8, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  48. ^ "ahmadinejad president of iran". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  49. ^ "بمبهای گوگلی کارساز". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  50. ^ Lance Whitney.;title
  51. ^ "10 Notorious Google Bombs - Nicholas Jackson - Technology". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  52. ^ Doctorow, Cory (February 25, 2011). """Googlebombers turn "Abortion" into second result for "Murder. Boing Boing. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  53. ^ "Anti-Choicers Link "Abortion" To "Murder" On Google". Jezebel. February 25, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  54. ^ Big, Bobby (2011-07-15). "THE CURIOUS INDEX, 7/15/2011". Every Day Should Be Saturday. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  55. ^ Driscoll, Matt (December 14, 2011). "The truth about Craig James and those hookers". Weekly Volcano. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  56. ^ Loznianu, Ramona. "Editor". Gândul. 
  57. ^ Worstall, Tim (October 14, 2012). "The Mitt Romney 'Completely Wrong' Google Bomb". Forbes. 
  58. ^ Lynskey, Dorian. "How to disco dance the EDL off Google and Facebook". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 February 2012. 
  59. ^ Google apologises to Indian PM Narendra Modi after he appears in list of top 10 criminals, June 4, 2015, The Independent.
  60. ^ Google sorry for Narendra Modi images in 'Top 10 criminals' list, June 4, 2015, BBC.
  61. ^ Kopytoff, Verne (January 26, 2004). "Google targeted by pranksters: Web site operators, bloggers skew results". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 27, 2007. 
  62. ^ Ochoa, George, and Corey, Melinda (2005). The 100 Best Trends 2006: Emerging Developments You Can't Afford to Ignore. Adams Media. p. 213.  
  63. ^ "A quick word about Googlebombs". Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  64. ^ "Google Answers: Google Inc., and the Google Bomb". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  65. ^
  66. ^ 14. "Rob Kohr - Google+ - A better way to fight SOPA GoDaddy has been a supporter of…". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  67. ^ "Attack GoDaddy - better than a boycott | Hacker News". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  68. ^ Cannell, David. "Google Bomb Tricks To Avoid". Sydney Search Results. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 

News articles

  • Google hit by link bombers – BBC News, March 13, 2002
  • Top of the Heap – Business 2.0, July 2002 – Ego bombing
  • Engineering Google Results to Make a Point – NY Times, January 22, 2004
  • Student trying to 'bomb' Kerry – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 16, 2004
  • Dropping 'Google-bombs' – San Diego Union-Tribune, June 14, 2004
  • Inbound Links most important for Google ranking and bombs BBC Reports – Direct Traffic News, April 4, 2007
  • Corey Feldman is hurting…or is it a Google bomb? – July 8, 2009
  • You don't find Chuck Norris googlebomb
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.