Archive for January 25th, 2009

Google Bombs

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

“Google bomb” is a term that has been around for many years and refers to the process of promoting sites for undesirable terms through link anchor text. For those, who are unaware of what anchor text is, it is the text within a link that is clicked on to send a visitor to a site. Link anchor text is one of many factors that determines site rankings in Google.

With enough links, a site can rank for a given term through just anchor text alone - with no examples of the keyword in page titles or content. A good example of this is adobe, which ranks for the common phrase “click here”. This is because there are literally millions of links pointing to the site with the phrase “click here to download adobe reader”.

Because anchor text plays a significant role in sites’ rankings (and because it is not controlled by the site’s webmaster) there have been many cases where people have deliberately promoted other peoples sites for undesirable terms. Whilst this can be malicious and carried out to give negative publicity, most are fairly harmless and many are comical. Some famous examples include the term “miserable failure” which used to display the white house ranked at number one, as well as the term “liar”. which lead to Tony Blair.

Because Google Bombs can be harmful to a company’s reputation, Google have some automated processes built into its algorithm to detect the bombs and limit their effectiveness. Whilst this is helpful, it does mean that there is a possibility that the Google bomb filter could be triggered on a site where the anchor text is beneficial. If you are a site owner of marketer that carries out regular link building for your site, it is advisable to vary the anchor text used in your links. This will help ensure that the links are seen as “natural” and will greatly reduce the chance of any filters being triggered.