Thursday, February 15, 2007

Click Here for Googlebombs

Back on January 25th the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced "By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs."

Googlebombs as you may know is the practice of linking to a specific site using specific link text (anchor text). The most well known case of Googlebombing involved George W. Bush's site ranking for the term "miserable failure". Of course the term "miserable failure" was never mentioned on his site, but because enough sites linked to his site using that term his site ranked for it.

In Google's blog post they stated that they are trying to stop this practice algorithmically.

"Algorithms are great because they scale well: computers can process lots of data very fast, and robust algorithms often work well in many different languages. That's what we did in this case, and the extra effort to find a good algorithm helps detect Googlebombs in many different languages."

So the question persists did Google change the results by hand, implement a limited filter on the sites they knew were being bombed, or did they implement an overall algorithmic change?

I have a few examples which seem to indicate the changes were either done by hand, or the filters were only applied to sites they knew about.

Example 1 - "Click Here"

As you can see the top 3 results are for Adobe, QuickTime, and RealPlayer. None of these sites have the phrase "click here" on their web page yet likely have thousands of sites linking to them with the anchor text "click here". You could argue these sites were Googlebombed for the phrase "click here".

Example 2 - "home"

Now the top two results here are the New York Times and the LA Times. They do have mentions of the word "home" on their home pages, but there is no significant keyword density or specific information on the site which would indicate the site is about the topic "home". The reason I included this example is because I would suspect that this Googlebomb was caused by internal links (thousands of articles on their sites with "home" links pointing back to the main page).

Example 3 - "This Site"

Again, the top three results don't have any mention of the phrase "this site" on their home page. This is likely the result of other people linking to these sites with the anchor text "this site".

My conclusion from all this is that you can still get away with Googlebombing, but as soon as Google finds out they're either adding that site to a special algorithmic filter or they're changing the results by hand. I do not believe there is an overall algorithmic filter which prevents sites from ranking for terms merely by the anchor text pointing to them.

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