Google Changes Algorithm to Curb Googlebombing, but My Deadbeat Ex-Housemate Still #1 Result


Googlebombing won’t be the same anymore. Here’s what Matt Cutts wrote on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog:

By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs. Now we will typically return commentary, discussions, and articles about the Googlebombs instead. The actual scale of this change is pretty small (there are under a hundred well-known Googlebombs), but if you’d like to get more details about this topic, read on.

He goes on to state that since Googlebomb phrases are mostly “well off the beaten path,” they were considered to be a minor annoyance. Even so, there was a perception that Googlebomb results — such as a search for the phrase “miserable failure” returning George W. Bush’s page as the number one result — were some sort of editorial being published by Google. Hence the change to Google’s algorithm.

Cutts then answers an important question: Why doesn’t Google just edit these search results by hand?. The answer, while obvious to most programmers, may not seem so to laypeople. Simply put, with the number of users and searches and new ideas that come up every day, keeping an eye for for Googlebombs and then writing some code to circumvent them is impractical. The approach that most programmers would recommend is one of “enlightened laziness” — see if there’s a way that Googlebomb detection can be automated.

In many cases, it seems to work: searches for miserable failure and “miserable failure” (note the difference — one’s in quotes, the other isn’t) — now point to pages on which the Googlebomb is discussed rather than a page about George W. Bush, the target of the Googlebombing. Same for talentless hack and “talentless hack”.

But how about the Googlebomb in which I have a personal stake? By this, I mean the phrase deadbeat ex-housemate, for which the personal weblog of my deadbeat ex-housemate — who owes me thousands of dollars for rent, utilities, the largest domestic phone bill I have ever seen (really, did you have to call London during business hours?), my being saddled with having to pay the phone company a $500 deposit just to get long-distance service and a borrowed laptop that was never returned — was the number one result. Is his blog still the number one result?

Yes, for both deadbeat ex-housemate and “deadbeat ex-housemate”. Honor remains satisfied!