Looking At Google Bombs, But Not Very Well

Spotted via Phil Bradley, Deconstructing Google bombs from First Monday tries to analyze two link bombs to determine how much they are a result of collective action. Sadly, stumbles leave me less than thrilled with the paper and the supposed peer review process that's supposed to catch errors.

For one, "The coining of the phrase 'Google bomb' " didn't lead to the "mimetic diffusion of the rank influencing techniques...now referred to as search engine optimization." Link building and SEO existed before the notion of Google, much less Google bombs.

More important, the deconstruction of 2,690 links to George W. Bush bio page relating to the infamous miserable failure query sounds good and results in nice stats like 43 percent are from .gov sites and "legit" while another 43 percent are from link bombing participants. The problem is, Google only reports a slice of whatever links point at a particular page.

Go over to MSN Search, and it has nearly 30,000 links point at that page. Google certainly knows of around this many and uses them as part of the ranking process. It simply doesn't report them all, as any experience search marketer knows. The analysis is skewed by not taking that into account. It operates using partial data.

This is from "peer-reviewed" First Monday? I spotted one major factual error and one major flaw to the analysis within a minute that apparently got past whatever the peer review committee is. Memo to First Monday. Get some search experts and search marketers to do some of your reviewing when running papers about search.

In related news, the fact that just [failure] will bring up the George W. Bush bio on Google is still apparently news to some, which got the attention of Robert Scoble who pondered MSN coming up with "conservative" results for that query, Hillary Clinton ranking tops there, Bush coming in second. Variation on a Theme: A New George Bush Linkbomb? from Gary in June covers an earlier report of a search on [failure] bringing up Bush tops at Google and Yahoo and Gigablast. On MSN, he was eight. On Ask Jeeves, he didn't appear at all.

Finally, why do I keep saying "link bomb" and "link bombing" rather than "Google bomb" and "Google bombing?" It's more accurate, since as I've written, these bombs go off on places other that Google.