Since 2004, a search on Google and Yahoo for "miserable failure" has almost always ranked the the official George W. Bush biography tops. Link bombing, as I've covered here, caused it to happen. But yesterday, folks at Threadwatch spotted that it has changed.
What happened? The White House moved the bio to a new page, which has caused the old page to disappear for that search temporarily. Now, at least for me, the bio is ranking tops again at a new location. The change is something a future president probably won't like.
The old page lived here:
You can see a copy of it via these listings at the Internet Archive. It was up since at least September 2001.
The new page lives here:
The old page uses a meta refresh command to send both humans and search engine spiders from the old to the new page. A fast meta refresh, to my knowledge, is treated by at least Google as a 301 permanent redirect.
Over at Yahoo, the old address is still ranking tops. At Google, yesterday the bio was completely gone. Today, at least for me, the bio is back up but at this new address, like this:
Why the change? My money is on the Bush Administration finally getting someone smart about search engines in to "solve" the miserable failure problem. The new page is a common page that potentially may be used by all US Presidents, rather than one specifically about George W. Bush. All those links making the old page come up will now make the overall page for ALL US Presidents rank well for that term.
Interestingly, this "overall" page seems to have existed nearly as long as the dedicated page to Bush, according to the Internet Archive. In January 2001, it hosted his bio. By September 13, 2001, it became an overview page, with his bio moved to that dedicated URL above.
Eventually, Bush will leave office, and so a dedicated page to him will return. This will likely be something like this:
That follows the naming convention of pages for other US Presidents, as you'll find here. It also begs the question of why it wasn't created, if the Bush Administration suddenly felt the White House pages about US presidents needed a shake up.
Interestingly again, if you visit that page, you'll see that Bush still has a dedicated page listed here:
Since that's actually his bio, the old bio more appropriately should point to that location.
Political games aside, Bush should have a unique page dedicated to himself, rather than making use of a generic page any US President might later encounter. The reason is simple. There are actually plenty of educators and other with no political gripe against Bush that might need to link to his bio or already have done so. This change fails to defuse the link bomb but certainly messes up many pages pointing at his bio with good intentions in the years to come.
For past coverage from us on this issue, see:
- Google's (and Inktomi's) Miserable Failure, January 2004
- Bush "Miserable Failure" Bio Turns Link-Only On Google, May 2005
- Variation on a Theme: A New George Bush Linkbomb?, June 2005
- Googlebombing Now A "Prank" And Not Web's Opinion, Says Google, Sept. 2005
- Failure Most Popular Term Sending Traffic From Google To US White House, Nov. 2005