Remember how Google introduced a link bomb fix in January that, among other things, finally got US President George W. Bush out of first page of results for searches on miserable failure and failure at Google? Bush is back, at least for failure, and the White House has only itself to blame.
Someone reading our article about the fix – Google Kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs – commented yesterday about Bush’s return to the results. I didn’t see Bush’s page ranking myself when I checked yesterday, but now I do:
What happened? The White House used the word "failure" on Bush’s page, which resulted in the page becoming relevant for the query again. If the White House was smart, they’d have realized it can never ever ever ever use the words "miserable" or "failure" or both of them together without risking showing up in Google’s top results for searches on those words.
More on why in a moment. But first, we know already that the White House isn’t smart when it comes to search engines. That’s because it tried to stop the link bomb once before, back in September 2006. My article above explains more about what the White House did. As a result, any future US President now has this "miserable failure" search threat hanging over them, rather than it just being isolated to George W. Bush, as it once was.
Now for the science bit. Google’s never explained how its link bomb fix works. However, it’s widely assumed that Google looks for an unusually high number of links using certain words pointing at a page that doesn’t use those words. If lots of people link to a particular page at the White House site using the word "failure" in the anchor text — but the White House page itself doesn’t use that word – Google guesses there’s a link bomb happening and defuses it.
If the page DOES contain the word, then Google assumes there’s no link bombing going on and doesn’t tap into its automatic link bomb algorithm. That’s where the White House misstepped. Currently on the page is this text:
In a time of war, it’s irresponsible for the… Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds. The bottom line is this: Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.
I’ve bolded the word "failure," where it is used. That single use of the word was enough to reactivate the link bomb, which for the word "failure" had been happening since September 2005. When the words goes off the page, as it will, you should see the page quickly drop out of the rankings once again.
For the records, here’s how things stand across all the major search engines from what I see (it’s possible others will see slightly different results):
- Yahoo: failure, ranks 1st; miserable failure, ranks 1st
- Google: failure ranks 2nd; miserable failure, not in first page of results
- Microsoft: failure, not in first page of results; miserable failure, ranks 1st
- Ask: ; failure, not in first page of results; miserable failure, ranks 4th