Why “failure” on Google shows up with the White House profile of George W. Bush

By Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products for Google:

If you do a Google search on the word [failure] or the phrase [miserable failure], the top result is currently the White House’s official biographical page for President Bush. We’ve received some complaints recently from users who assume that this reflects a political bias on our part. I’d like to explain how these results come up in order to allay these concerns.

Google’s search results are generated by computer programs that rank web pages in large part by examining the number and relative popularity of the sites that link to them. By using a practice called googlebombing, however, determined pranksters can occasionally produce odd results. In this case, a number of webmasters use the phrases [failure] and [miserable failure] to describe and link to President Bush’s website, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases. We don’t condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we’re also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.

Heh. pranksters? Google’s not going to hand-fix it? We’ll be seeing more of this type of “prank” in the future, I’m sure.
Via GoogleBlog

  • Ron West

    Funny,
    Since your post it appears that the tides have changed, all of those right wing hackers have started to googlebomb Michael Moore and he now shows up as the top for “faliure”. George still reigns as champion for “miserable failure”. Look in the Right Side ads. Google has added its own which describes “why” this may be happening.
    Dosen’t this process post a pretty major threat to the entire Google architecture? Couldn’t this allow a ‘pure’ search engine to dethrown Google as the leader? Interesting….

  • Ron West

    Funny,
    Since your post it appears that the tides have changed, all of those right wing hackers have started to googlebomb Michael Moore and he now shows up as the top for “faliure”. George still reigns as champion for “miserable failure”. Look in the Right Side ads. Google has added its own which describes “why” this may be happening.
    Dosen’t this process post a pretty major threat to the entire Google architecture? Couldn’t this allow a ‘pure’ search engine to dethrown Google as the leader? Interesting….

  • ca

    Googlebombing’s been around forever. They talked about it in Wired or on Wired’s site a couple years ago. No big deal.

  • ca

    Googlebombing’s been around forever. They talked about it in Wired or on Wired’s site a couple years ago. No big deal.

  • True. But not everyone understands what googlebombing is. That’s like saying that I knew about Project Echelon back in the early 90s, but did you? Maybe. Maybe not.

  • darkmoon

    True. But not everyone understands what googlebombing is. That’s like saying that I knew about Project Echelon back in the early 90s, but did you? Maybe. Maybe not.

  • ca

    Fair enough, but that’s not the way I meant it. The phenomenon is interesting by itself. I only meant that it’s been around and in use for a long enough time that it can’t be seen as much of a threat to the integrity of their engine (re: the first comment). Linkfarming and Googlebombing don’t line up because of the way Google ranks pages. Googlebombing is most effective when the people doing the bombing have an established rank, whereas linkfarming attempts to establish rank based on volume. It’s the quality v. quantity thing, not the I saw them before they were big and had the t-shirt before anyone else thing.

  • ca

    Fair enough, but that’s not the way I meant it. The phenomenon is interesting by itself. I only meant that it’s been around and in use for a long enough time that it can’t be seen as much of a threat to the integrity of their engine (re: the first comment). Linkfarming and Googlebombing don’t line up because of the way Google ranks pages. Googlebombing is most effective when the people doing the bombing have an established rank, whereas linkfarming attempts to establish rank based on volume. It’s the quality v. quantity thing, not the I saw them before they were big and had the t-shirt before anyone else thing.

  • darkmoon

    Ahh.. agreed. It really doesn’t effect the integrity of their engine. *laugh* I never had the t-shirt, but maybe I should have gotten one.
    The only way to bomb something (like you said) is to already have an established ranking, then running the linkfarm. Whereas just linkfarming with no ranking does pretty much nothing at this point (why most spam sites don’t show in Google’s top 10).
    I don’t think their blogsearch functions quite in the same way however and thus, the linkfarming actually does make a difference (just look up Dell). It’ll be fixed, I assume.

  • darkmoon

    Ahh.. agreed. It really doesn’t effect the integrity of their engine. *laugh* I never had the t-shirt, but maybe I should have gotten one.
    The only way to bomb something (like you said) is to already have an established ranking, then running the linkfarm. Whereas just linkfarming with no ranking does pretty much nothing at this point (why most spam sites don’t show in Google’s top 10).
    I don’t think their blogsearch functions quite in the same way however and thus, the linkfarming actually does make a difference (just look up Dell). It’ll be fixed, I assume.