Saturday, January 24, 2009
Detecting new "Googlebombs"
Though the spirit of change may be in the air in Washington, some things apparently stay the same. Yes, the old online prank called "Googlebombing" returned for a brief while recently, when Google searches for the words words [failure] and [cheerful achievement] returned President Obama's biography as the top result.
You may remember this issue from a few years ago, when the query [miserable failure] led to the biography of President Bush. For some reason, all those links pointing to the Bush bio were redirected to Obama's. Some people have asked in the past whether these results are a sign of political bias on Google's part, and we've explained that this isn't the case.
Rather than edit these prank results by hand, we developed an algorithm a few years ago to detect Googlebombs. We tend not to run it all the time, because it takes some computing power to process our entire web index and because true Googlebombs are quite rare (we joke around the Googleplex that more articles have been written about Googlebombs than there are actual examples of Googlebombs).
After we became aware of this latest Googlebomb, we re-ran our algorithm and it detected the Googlebomb for [cheerful achievement] as well as for [failure]. As a result, those search queries now return discussion about the Googlebombs rather than the original pages that were returned.
Be sure check out search engine analyst Danny Sullivan's post from yesterday. He does a great job explaining the history behind this and how it all works.