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Trolling Google

In class, we covered the topic of PageRank and how search engines such as Google’s work. “PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.” (

Websites are rated on the quality and quantity of inbound links. So a top search website would have many legitimate(not spam) inbound links. This means other websites reference the top website, thus giving that website its top rank.
So the thinking goes, if I type and search “Obama”, I would get relevant searches to Obama such as news articles or political forums or essentially anything that can be related to Obama. I typed Obama in and got search results: his website, Wikipedia, CNN, etc.

But, what if someone who understood this search mechanism wanted to mess with Google? So instead of a getting legitimate and informative links when you search what ever topic/person/event you did, you get unsavory jokes motivated by business or political reasons. For example, if you had searched “completely wrong” a couple of years you would have gotten links to Mitt Romney. Obviously, people who disagreed with him wanted to troll him and did so by literally making him the result of searching “completely wrong”.

So, how did someone essentially troll Google’s search? Basically, the two concepts : “Mitt Romney” and “completely wrong” were linked through links. What happened was that the web was populated with thousands of links to Mitt Romney related websites that contained the words ”completely wrong”. When you searched “completely wrong”, you would get top searches. Since websites were being linked very frequently , they would show up. Thus, the two concepts were connected and Google was trolled.
Google bombing now is much harder as page rank isn’t the only mechanism in deciding how searches are done. Plus, Google has also tweaked their algorithm to make trolling harder, but not impossible so it still can be possible for the internet trolls to get around the fixes and play their tricks.

What Is Google PageRank, How Is It Earned & Does It Still Matter?


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