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How to “Google Bomb”: Gaming the PageRank Algorithm

Ever wondered how to game the Google Page Rank algorithm to pull off some hilarious world-wide pranks? I’m sure you’ve heard of similar terms such as photo bomb – where (as defined by urban dictionary) “the background of the picture hijacks its original focus.” Similarly, a Google bomb is an irrelevant website that somehow ranks near the top of your search query. One of the most famous Google bombs appeared in 2000, when the text “dumb mother****er” linked to a website that sold George W. Bush merchandise.

Google bombing is essentially gaming the mechanics of PageRank using methods similar to those found in Search-Engine Optimization (SEO). As we learned in lecture, PageRank ranks a website mainly by using its inbound links, analyzing the quantity and quality of the websites linking to yours.
Already there’s an obvious implication here on increasing one’s PageRank. In HW#4, we realized that creating two new hubs linking to your website can change the rank of your website from 3rd to 2nd. So users can create a large number of domains (unique websites) that link to their webpages – a technique called “link farming.” Traditionally, a single user would create a large number of domains linking to each other, reputable authorities, and a single website. This increased the hub ranking of the hub websites and has a large influence on improving the PageRank of the target website.

The tactics have evolved to now include:

1. Paying others to access their established networks of websites.
The PageRanks of already established websites are much higher than those of newly created domains. This gives an almost instant boost in PageRanking.

2. Content-Link exchange
Providing content to websites in exchange for do-follow links back to one’s own website. This is not as bad of a practice as the previously mentioned two tactics. In fact, it appears frequently in the form of “guest-posting” on reputable blog websites.

3. Social Media
The PageRank algorithm has evolved to include number site visits, time spent on a website, and numerous other parameters. Therefore, almost every marketing team spends time sharing website content on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Digg, etc.

However, Google’s PageRank algorithm constantly evolves to shut down link farming websites and networks to prevent “Google Bombing” and low-quality search results. But before the 2007 algorithm update to the Google search engine, it was quite possible to manipulate search results for one’s entertainment. But at least now you know the tricks to “bomb” the search results for more primitive, though unpopular, search engines.



One Response to “ How to “Google Bomb”: Gaming the PageRank Algorithm ”

  • Jeremy Armando

    Great post, we have some funny examples of Google Bombing in France, the most famous concerns the past president (Nicolas Sarkozy) who had undergone a Google Bomb on his Facebook page with keywords “trou du cul”. I’ll let you find the translation… 😉

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