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Google Bombs

Go to Google and type in the Danish words that mean primitive troll. You'll find the home page of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Google Bombs

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Sheep_1 Go to Google and type in the Danish words that mean primitive troll. You'll find the home page of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Try looking for "mouton insignifiant" - or unimportant sheep - in French. That will bring you to the official biography of Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

Here, in this country, "miserable failure" will yield President George W. Bush. "Waffles" will get you John Kerry.

Take a second. Try it. It's known as Google Bombing - the dense planting of key search terms to steer Internet traffic - and it gained political traction in the 2004 presidential election.

Those bombs are raining hard again.

Via Blogger's Blog, I read of a National Journal piece that reports liberal activists are lobbing the first volleys during these mid-term elections. The bombing strategy works this way: you identify a post you want to raise in prominence on the page of search results. Then, as many people link to a specific phrase on that post as possible.

The Journal wrote:

Liberal bloggers had the idea first. Chris Bowers of MyDD outlined the strategy Sunday. He said the plan involves purchasing "Google AdWords that will place each negative article on the most common searches for each Republican candidate. Simultaneously, I will produce an article on MyDD that embeds that negative article into a hyperlink."

Bowers asked bloggers to help add links, and they spent the next few days compiling negative news articles on Republican candidates in about 50 targeted races.

This caused the opposition to organize a counter-offensive.

The Journal, again:

Conservative blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News learned of the strategy and urged his allies to "fight fire with fire." Hawkins expressed concern the Google-bombing campaign just might work for Democrats.

Bowers, a lefty blogger from Philadelphia, recruited bombers here on MyDD and here on DailyKos. The goal, he wrote, was that:

that the most damning, non-partisan article written on every key Republican candidate for house and Senate will appear both high on every Google search for that candidate, and automatically as an advertisement on every search for that candidate. BlogPac will cover the costs. The netroots will supply the research.

Hawkins' call from the other side of the aisle can be found here on Right Wing News:

believe it or not, in this case, a Googlebomb could actually have an impact. Think about it. Who would be doing a Google Search on a particular candidate in the final days of a campaign? Probably an independent voter who is trying to get more information about a candidate. And, if the first article he runs across is a brutal hit piece, well, that could be the information that helps him make up his mind.

Would it play out that way in every case? No, but in big districts, if there's particularly damaging information out there, a Googlebomb could have the potential to sway hundreds of voters.

Sounds like a job for the Google lawyers.

In Google's blog last September, Marissa Mayer, the company's director of consumer Web products, wrote:

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 (ed note: the 'miserable failure' example) 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.

Blackmail Is My Life
Posted 10/26/2006 09:25:45 AM
Rasmussen virkelig er en primitiv hulemand. Ja, jeg synes det er rigtigt nok. Hils mor og far alligevel!
Jim
Posted 10/26/2006 10:39:18 AM
This is old news.  LIEberals will stop and nothing.
Tom G
Posted 10/26/2006 10:45:39 AM
On the lighter side, go and Google "Tim McCarver".
Blackmail Is My Life
Posted 10/26/2006 06:02:00 PM
LIEBERALS - hold kaeft hvor er det morsomt!
George Johnston
Posted 10/27/2006 04:17:35 AM
It is search engine optimizaton.  Chris had a brilliant idea but it might be too late for this election.  Google and other search engines have around a two week cycle time for indexing the web.  However, the adwords strategy will take effect immediately.

By the way, Bush's bio beats 300 million pages for just the search term "failure".  Hurricane Katrina proved this wasn't search engine manipulation but more like search engine prophecy.

I must admit that I am biased about the accuracy of the miserable failure google bomb because I originated it.
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About this blog
Daniel Rubin is a columnist and The Inquirer's director of social media. Since joining newspaper as a staff writer in 1988, Daniel Rubin has reported from Mayfair to Macedonia, 27 countries in all. He has been the European Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and for two years he sat at home and wrote Blinq, the paper's first daily blog. Dan began newspaper work in Norfolk and Louisville, Ky., after getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University. He has lived in all four commonwealths, most recently in Pennsylvania. He teaches urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania

Email Blinq here. My day job - Inquirer metro columnist - is here.

Reach Daniel at drubin@phillynews.com.

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