While the concept of Googlebombing has been around for quite some time, many of those that are new to the industry, or that are trying to get a grasp on it before hiring a professional search marketer are still trying to wrap their head around the idea.

Basically, it works like this...

  • Google is well known for placing heavy emphasis on incoming links when determining search engine rankings

  • Google relies on not only the number of links and where they come from, but also on the text used in those links

  • The idea works well for things like "pizza." Search for "pizza" on Google and the number one listing is Pizza Hut. Not because the Pizza Hut site is optimized, but because so many other sites naturally link to it using that text.

  • The problem comes when prankers get involved. Search for "miserable failure" on Google and you'll get President Bush and Michael Moore as the top results.

The concept is back in the news this week because Google has placed an explanatory AdWords ad into the mix for these types of searches.

You'll see it over there on the right if you run that search for "miserable failure." It reads like this:

Why these results? These results may seem politically slanted. Here's what happened.

The link points toward an explanation from Google that includes this point:

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.

While I certainly wouldn't encourage a business to take on this type of project in order to get better rankings, I will point out that when practiced appropriately (a la Pizza Hut) it's a highly effective way to increase your search engine rankings.

That's why it's essential to encourage other sites to link to you with descriptive text rather than simply your URL or company name. It's also why it's a good idea to use your keywords in links on your own site. For example, if I was pointing to this article, I wouldn't want to link to it using the words click here. Instead, use something like learn about Googlebombing that accurate describes the content.

It's a small, easy change that you can make on the way you look at linking that could have a long-term impact on the success of your site.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
September 20, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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