The Googlebomb Is Back
Do you remember what Google was like before 2007? If you were doing SEO, you did. Back in "the old days," you could get a website to rank in the search engines for any term you wanted just by pointing enough links to the page you wanted to rank. Of course, you had to use anchor text to get it there.
One of the most famous Googlebombs ever pulled off was the infamous George W. Bush incident. At one time, former President Bush's biography was ranked in the #1 spot on Google's search engine for the term "miserable failure.".
Google fixed that problem in 2007, claiming that the Googlebomb issue had been resolved and that websites would no longer be able to game the search engine. This move effectively shut down spammers and SEO experts, preventing them from getting irrelevant websites and pages ranked for any given search term. At its core, the Googlebomb tactic exposed a chink in Google's search algorithm. Google was allowing SEO companies, and even savvy bloggers, to get any webpage on any website to rank for any search term. Obviously that could - and did - cause problems with relevancy in the search results.
Now, it seems, the Googlebomb is back in a 2.0 version. It's about time. Social media has progressed to version 2.0 after all. The problem first reared its ugly head when Presidential candidate Rick Santorum was outranked by another website with a very... uhmmmm.... unique take on the word "santorum."
What makes the problem so humor is Santorum's controversial stance on homosexuals. What makes it not so funny is that another website has managed to do something very similar to Mitt Romney. Wait. This isn't a fluke? You mean that bloggers can systematically manipulate search engine results yet again?
You be the judge:
Humor aside, this seems to indicate another hole in Google's search algorithm. The problem, this time, is that it's going to be tough to plug. You see, the issue with the original Googlebomb was that bloggers and SEO companies could manipulate big "G" into ranking any website for any search term. That's easy to fix. The fix, however, was to focus on relevancy. Technically, that spreadingsantorum.com website does contain the phrase "santorum." In fact, it's all over the page. It might be a slang term for all Google knows, and Google is a search engine not a lexicographer.
What's worse, the spreadingsantorum website actually posts a picture of the former senator along with two definitions. So, to Google, the site is actually relevant for the term "santorum." After all, does the user want "santorum" or "Rick santorum?" Google can't yet determine search intent, so it shows what it thinks is relevant. If it happens to outrank the former senator's campaign website, so be it.
We see the same thing happening with Romney. What's strange with the spreadingromney website is that the site does not appear to have much - in any - authority. The domain is very new, with few backlinks pointing to it (as of this writing), and it doesn't appear to be anything more than a one-page site with just a little bit of text - another definition for the word "romney." Yet, this site is positioned on the first page of Google for the search term "romney." What gives?
This has far-reaching implications for SEO companies. We were told that Google was going to fix the problem of "thin" content on the web. In fact, the whole Panda update was supposed to fix these kinds of sites by not giving them prominence in the search results. Looks like someone is asleep at the wheel at Google HQ.