Google Gives Bush a Pass

Searching on “miserable failure” in Google no longer brings up the Bush biography at In fact, no longer comes up at all for that term. Google was the first search engine to really focus on link text, regarding them as “votes” for particular site. Yahoo and MSN followed suit, and indeed, searching on “miserable failure” still brings up Bush’s biography at #1 in both of their engines.

Google insists that it has simply made adjustments to its algorithm to somehow counter the effect of these “Googlebombs” (events like “miserable failure” where the term itself has no literal bearing on the content in question, it’s just a concerted effort by Netizens to express their opinions via links). I’m not enough of a mathematician to know how this could be accomplished but this thing just smells fishy. Of course, a search on “waffles” no longer brings up (still there in Yahoo and MSN). Still, the paranoid schizophrenic in me thinks they’ve made specific exceptions.

One thought on “Google Gives Bush a Pass”

  1. Googlebombing was a neat hack on a complex system, so I can see being a bit disappointed that it doesn’t work anymore. But look at it from Google’s perspective: they want to return relevant results to searches so they can make money off ad revenue. Googlebombs are by definition not relevant search results, so eventually they had to go, either through special cases or by tweaking the search algorithm. Changing the search algorithm is more appealing, because it’s probably simpler and more flexible than implementing a system to handle every special case.

    Also note that so long as Googlebombs worked, Google was having to put up with both ends of the political spectrum accusing them of bias, and that certainly isn’t any fun.

    Finally, nobody’s right to free expression through linking has been infringed here. You can still create links using whatever keywords you want; Google just doesn’t reward you for it anymore.

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