A Google® bomb or Googlebomb is an orchestrated attempt to inflate a site's search engine ranking, forcing it to turn up in the top of the search results for a specific phrase. Google® bombs are also known as link bombs; the “Google®” is a reference to a very popular search engine. Many people have undertaken Google® bombs for the purpose of satire, comedy, or political comment, and the practice became a topic of wider discussion around 2001, when several notable Google® bombs attacking then-President George Bush made international headlines.
Google® bombs take advantage of the fact that search engines tend to push sites up in their rankings when people repeatedly link to them with the same anchor text. Anchor text is the visible part of a hyperlink; for example, most people who link to wiseGEEK make “wiseGEEK,” their anchor text. Because of this practice, wiseGEEK comes up first in the search results for this anchor text, because search engines believe that it is the most relevant to searchers.
While most anchor text is related to the topic being linked, many Google® bombs use anchor text which is not related. In order for the Google® bomb to work, hundreds and potentially thousands of people must use the exact same anchor text. For example, a notable Google® bomb used the anchor text “miserable failure” to link to the website of the President of the United States. As the fad caught on, more people started using the same anchor text for the same link, thus ensuring that the Google® bomb was even more effective.
A well-orchestrated Google® bomb can cause a site to shoot up to the top of a list of search results within a matter of days. Google® bombs have been used for all sorts of things; the Jewish blogging community, for example, created a Google® bomb which propelled an article about Judaism to the top of the search results for “Jew,” and many activist organizations have used Google® bombs to make comments about politicians, governments, and various policies.
The popularity of such link bombs has led to a changing strategy on the part of some search engines. While a Google® bomb is often humorous, some are extremely offensive, and some search engines decided to modify search results for certain key phrases when they became aware of the practice. These alterations are designed to maintain the intent of the search engine, which is to return relevant and helpful information.