For “Define An English Person,” Google Suggests The C-Word

google-search-censored-featuredI’ve seen some weird Google results in my time, but this one is pretty strange. Search for “define an english person” or some related queries, and Google brings up the Wikipedia page about the C-word in response.

As spotted by Search Engine Roundtable, people were asking in Google’s help forums why various searches related to defining English people returned the Wikipedia page about the C-word, as shown below:

The screenshot shows Google listing the Wikipedia page first in a search for define english person. It also lists that page first or in the first page of results for related searches such as:

  • define an english person
  • what defines an english person
  • define english

For the record, Google tells us:

We’re aware of the results for this query, and we don’t like them. As always, we look for algorithmic improvements that will address thousands of searches, rather than manual fixes for just one.

A Google Bomb?

I’ve seen some reports wondering if the listing is being caused by a Google Bomb, but I don’t think that’s the case.

A Google Bomb is where there’s a concerted effort to link to a page with certain words contained within the links themselves, in an effort to make a page rank for those words, even if the page isn’t explicitly about that topic.

For example, when some people were upset with President George W. Bush a few years ago, there was a campaign to get people to link to his official biography with the words “miserable failure” in those links. As a result, the page start ranking for that.

Google later instituted a fix for Google Bombs like this. In particular, since the George W. Bush biography wasn’t explicitly about “miserable failure” nor used those words on the page, it was prevented from ranking for that term. Our stories below explain more about how Google Bombs work as well as the fix:

Much attention has been focused lately on how a search for “santorum” brings up an anti-Rick Santorum web site. Some have mistaken this as being due to a Google Bomb. It’s not, because while presidential hopeful Rick Santorum might not agree, the page at issue in that search is indeed explicitly about an alternative definition for “santorum” and does use that word.

No, Not A Google Bomb

So how about this Wikipedia page? If it were a Google Bomb, you’d expect to find some origin, to call-to-action somewhere on the web telling people to link to the page with certain words to produce this type of result within Google. After some hunting, I can’t find anything like this.

For example, here’s how the Open Site Explorer tool reports people linking to the page. The most popular text used in the links are for the C-word or involving that. None of the links show things like “english person” in them.

In addition, Google Bombs usually go off on Bing, as well. Do these same search on Bing, and the Wikipedia page doesn’t appear.

All this suggests a problem with Google’s own ranking systems, not due to some type of external internet graffiti attempt. Google told me they are looking into what happened and how to fix this. But with the upcoming holidays, don’t expect an answer or solution probably until the New Year.

Of course, by then, Google may face a new challenge. Thanks to its glitch, that Wikipedia page has now become relevant for searches on that topic. The odd Google search result were even added to the page, though currently, these have been edited off.

(Stock image via Shutterstock Used with permission.)

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Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Link Building: Link Bombs | Search & Society: General | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • S.C.

    it doesn’t end there. If you follow the link to Wikipedia’s page with the C-word definition, it shows a picture of Wikipedia researcher Maryana Pinchuk, smiling. Human intervention is needed there, too :)

  • brianmaher

    It’s interesting how this article has now outranked the original : )

  • Harry Monmouth

    I can see why they would think it not sensible to alter the algorithm for just one page but when that page is calling an entire nation an incredibly rude word I think it would be justified to make the effort.

  • Stacey Cavanagh

    As an English person myself lol, I do find the whole thing rather amusing!

    You have to laugh! :P

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