Googlebombs and Googlebombing: Teh Rules

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
11:14 am and is filed
under Search Engine Optimisation.

Googlebombing describes the process of a group of sites (usually weblogs) linking to a target site with a chosen word or phrase (that may or may not appear on the target site) in order to make that target site the top search result for that word or phrase. The screengrab below shows you one example of a working Googlebomb from the Left (complete with a democratic response from the Right).

There are, however, a few things that can compromise a Googlebomb In Progress.

The following rules have been set out to help you to avoid the most common problems associated with developing Googlebombs.

Note: Sometimes Googlebombing is done more as a therapeutic group activity… often as a defiant/aggressive/mocking show of solidarity. Take for example this post about Tony Blair the liar and the posts that followed at The UK Today,, A Big Stick and a Small Carrot and Europhobia. You’ll see rules being broken all over the place here.If you’re having a bit of a laugh and it’s not crucial that your Googlebomb succeeds, the following rules are not important.However, if you’re serious about your Googlebomb, you may want to pay attention…

Rule 1 – You do not talk about Fight Club

Rule 2 – You DO NOT talk about Fight Club

Google wants its database to be democratic, but also useful. It is therefore in the interests of Google to detect and diffuse some Googlebombs. To avoid detection, you should avoid using the words ‘Google’ or ‘Googlebomb’ in any post containing/promoting a Googlebomb. Use a munged version if you must (such as ‘gbomb’) or simply describe what you are trying to achieve instead of using the word ‘Googlebomb’ as shorthand.Also, some Googlebombs only require half-a-dozen weblogs to work. In such cases, it is far more sensible to arrange your Googlebomb privately via email.

Rule 3 – Pride cometh before a fall

Any site initiating or participating in a Googlebomb should avoid linking directly to a search result that shows it working and/or displaying the URL that shows it working.e.g.”Look everyone! We did it! George Bush is now the top search result for miserable failure!“”Victory is ours! Witness:”“Experience teaches us that – especially in the early stages – this can foul up the result you’re bragging about within a day or two (though sometimes this effect is only temporary).If you want to show off your Googlebomb, use a screengrab.

Rule 4 – Don’t be the bomb

If you use the chosen word or phrase of any Googlebomb in the subject of your post, it will (in most blog formats) also end up as the Page Title of that individual post. This results in that post being better armed than the target site for the chosen word or phrase… which often results in you being the top search result for the chosen word or phrase instead of the target site. Do not use the word or phrase from a Googlebomb in the subject of a post containing that Googlebomb!The screengrab below shows the weblog that initiated this particular Googlebomb competing with the UK Independence Party for ‘swivel eyed loons’, when instead it should be clearing the way for a clean result:

Rule 5 – Less is more… more or less

Do not make the mistake of thinking that repeating the core link of the Googlebomb in an individual post (again and again and again) is going to help. However, keep in mind that it can be very effective to simply get into the habit of linking to the target site with the core word or phrase in multiple individual posts. (Example: Any time you make a post about Tony Blair, ensure that you remind people that he is a liar.)

Rule 6 – Give them static

A link in an individual post of a weblog is known in the SEO game as a ‘transient’ link. Typically, it will appear near the top of the front page (a higher-priority link in the eyes of Google), but will soon be moved down – and eventually off – the front page by any posts that follow.Blog your Googlebomb in an individual post, by all means… but then make sure that you back it up with a static link (say, under your blogroll in the navigation bar) so there is a link on your front page that stays on your front page.

Rule 7 – Bold is brass

Use bold/strong text for your Googlebombing hyperlink. Not all the time… just for the static link perhaps. Trust me.

Rule 8 – It had better be worth it

Sometimes a successful public Googlebombing can generate new search queries (people hear about a result and then search for it) but if you really want to have an impact, you want to use a word or phrase that is used *often* by average web users (who are unaware of the Googlebomb). This helps your Googlebomb to reach a wider audience.Overture’s search suggestion tool lets you enter a word or phrase and find out (roughly) how many people search for that phrase in Yahoo each month. Triple this figure and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how many people search for it in Google and Yahoo each month. (There is also a version of this tool that is specific to the UK.)

Rule 9 – For love not money

Since late 2003, Google has been working to stamp out the abuse of the ‘link popularity meets relevance’ aspect of their algorithm by marketing spacktards who use a series of sites/links/comment-spams to make their sites (or their client’s sites) the top search result for anything from ‘advertising’ to ‘viagra’ by linking to them with their chosen commercial word or phrase. For this reason, you should avoid using commercial words or phrases for your Googlebomb, because you’re probably not going to get very far. It also needs to be noted that you will be entering a very competitive field if you do use a commercial word or phrase, and this makes it far less likely that your Googlebomb will succeed.

Rule 10 – Save your ammo!

There is such a thing as overdoing it. If too many people Googlebomb too publicly, the major search engines will – sooner or later – be forced to crack down on the practice in a big way.Use your Googlebombs wisely. Use them sparingly.

Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, please do try to use them for good instead of evil.

Cheers all.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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