Scientologists Google Bombed Or Not?

Scientologists Google Bombed?

Just days after the one-year anniversary of Google’s Google bomb fix, a new Google bomb may have gotten through — dangerous cult, bringing up the Scientology web site, as shown above. But is it really getting past the fix? Considering one of the targeted words is being used on the page itself, it’s hard to say.

Both WebProNews and Google Blogoscoped have short stories on the listing. But as I noted in comments at WebProNews, the fix was designed to prevent pages from being Google bombed to the top if they do NOT use the words they are being bombed for on them.

For example, “miserable failure” is the classic Google Bomb that used to bring the US White House page on President George W. Bush to the top of the listings on Google. The Google Bomb fix of last year stopped that. But a few weeks later, the White House made use of the word "failure" on Bush’s page — putting him back on top with Google.

George W. Bush: A Failure Once Again, According To Google explains more about what happened. The key thing is that Bush only ranked for the single word "failure" when this happened, not for "miserable failure."

That brings us to the Scientologist page. It uses the word "dangerous" down at the bottom, as highlighted below:

Scientologists Google Bombed?

It could be that the fix isn’t working since at least one of the words appears. That would go against the situation with what was seen with Bush, however. Still, the doubt gives Google wiggle room.

As for "cult," that only appears in links pointing at the page, as Google says if you view a cached copy of it:

Scientologists Google Bombed?

See the section highlighted in red. It tells you that the word "dangerous" does appear on the page but that "cult" only appears in links pointing at it.

So, Google bombing in action? Another difficulty is that no one so far has said who, when, or even if there was a suggestion that many people start linking this way. Moreover, there are no doubt long-time critics of Scientology that may have been naturally describing it this way in linkage.

If it IS a Google bombing attempt, how widespread is it? Very hard to tell. This search, "dangerous cult", tells you there are only 347 pages according to Yahoo that link to the Scientology home page and use that exact phrase. But then again, maybe not. If you actually go and look at some individual pages after doing this, despite telling Yahoo to do a phrase search, it clearly ignores that instruction and brings back pages with both words in any place on them.

OK, let’s explicitly tell Yahoo to find pages that have either word, anywhere on the page, and which also link to the Scientologist page: dangerous cult. Now we get 1,470 matches. But keep in mind — these are only pages that have a link to the Scientologist page and also have these two words anywhere on the page. The words are NOT necessarily in anchor text pointing at the page.

How about this search, allinanchor:dangerous cult (or allinanchor:"dangerous cult"), on Google itself, as pointed out in comments at Google Blogoscoped? That only tells you that the Scientology page is one of about 33,000 that has someone, somewhere, using those words in links to it. It’s at the top of the list, of course, which suggest Google finds more links pointing at it this way than other pages (Google itself doesn’t explain how allinanchor searches are sorted).

So, Google bomb or not? Like I said, it’s hard to say. But I’ll see about getting a comment from Google on the situation.

Postscript: See comments below, this was clearly a Googlebombing attempt. Also, Goole sent this:

Nearly a year ago, we developed an algorithm that minimizes the impact of many link bombs, or Googlebombs. It is important to note, however, that some of the detection components of this algorithm don’t run every day because Googlebombs are relatively rare.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building: Link Bombs


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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