Off-Page SEO

Google Bombing

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Jun 13, 2023

Google Bombing

What is Google Bombing?

Google bombing is a tactic to manipulate Google search results. It involves creating many links from different websites to one page, to try to make that page appear first for a specific keyword search.

For example, people could link the phrase "worst politician ever" from various sites to a page about a politician they want to protest. Then that page might top Google results for that politician's name.

This can be done as a prank, for business reasons, activism, politics or even maliciously.

However, Google has put controls in place to prevent Google bombing from greatly impacting rankings to reduce the effectiveness of this tactic.

History of Google bombing

Google bombing has its roots in the early days of Google when the search engine relied heavily on backlinks.

One of the first big examples of Google bombing happened in 1999. Some internet users made a bunch of links to Microsoft's website.

The links had anchor text "more evil than Satan himself". This made Microsoft's homepage show up first when someone searched for "more evil than Satan himself".

The term "Google bombing" was first used in 2001 by Adam Mathes. He talked about how making lots of links with certain text to a website can trick the search rankings.

Politicians were common targets for Google bombing. People would link bad phrases to the names of politicians they didn't like.

Over time, Google has taken steps to make Google bombing not work well and stop it from changing search results much. Now it's harder to fool Google's search results using this kind of trick.

How does Google bombing work?

Google bombing is done to connect a webpage with certain keywords or phrases. The goal is to trick the search results so that the webpage shows up higher when someone searches for those terms.

For example, if some people wanted to trick the search results to show a restaurant's webpage as the top result when someone searches "best pizza in town", they would make a lot of links to that webpage. The links would use the text "best pizza in town" in them.

When Google crawls the internet and adds pages to its search results, it looks at the number and quality of inbound links going to a page to decide how relevant it is.

By making many links with the exact text "best pizza in town" going to the restaurant's webpage, they try to fool Google's algorithm into thinking that page is the most relevant for that search term.

However, Google has taken measures to reduce the effectiveness of Google bombing over the years and this technique no longer works.

Commonly known examples

  1. "miserable failure" - In 2003, some bloggers made links with the text “miserable failure” that went to George W. Bush’s biography on the White House website. This made that page show up first when someone searched “miserable failure”.

  2. "Jew" - In 2004, some anti-Semitic website owners made links with the word “Jew” that went to a webpage about Judaism. So that webpage would come up as the top search result for the term “Jew”.

  3. "completely wrong" - In 2007, fans of comedian Stephen Colbert made links to associate him with the phrase “completely wrong”. So searching for “completely wrong” would show a page about Colbert as the number one result.

Why do digital marketers use it?

Digital marketers believe that Google bombing can provide the following benefits:

Increased visibility and traffic

Digital marketers think they can use Google bombing to make their websites show up higher in search results.

If their sites show up first, more people would see and visit them. That could lead to more sales or getting more people to buy things.

Brand awareness

If a Google bombing is successful, it could result in widespread media coverage and social media attention, which could increase brand awareness and recognition.

Competitive advantage

If a digital marketer can successfully Google bomb their competitors to conduct a negative SEO, they may be able to gain a competitive advantage and attract customers away from their rivals.

Low cost

Compared to other forms of digital marketing, Google bombing may be seen as a low-cost tactic, as it primarily involves creating a large number of links with specific anchor text.

However, the potential risks and negative consequences of the Google bombing should also be considered.

How is social media used for Google bombing?

Creating viral content

Online advertisers make online content like articles, photos, or videos that they want to become super popular on social media.

When writing or making this content, they use special words that link back to a particular company's website or product name. That way, if their post or video goes viral, it will bring attention to the company they are promoting.

Encouraging link sharing

Digital marketers may encourage their followers on social media to share links to their websites or specific pages using certain anchor text.

By doing so, they are creating a large number of links with the desired anchor text, which can potentially influence rankings.

Why is it no longer useful?

Google has also taken steps to combat Google bombing by refining its algorithm to better identify and devalue manipulative links and content.

In a blog of Google Search Central, Google clearly states how it acts to prevent such a manipulative technique:

"Algorithms are great because they scale well: computers can process lots of data very fast, and robust algorithms often work well in many different languages. That's what we did in this case, and the extra effort to find a good algorithm helps detect Googlebombs in many different languages.

Since Google bombing doesn't work as well now, many digital marketers have stopped using it to get more visitors to their websites.

Instead, they now focus on making good quality content, properly formatting their sites for search engines, and promoting their brand in an ethical and lasting way.

Google bombing as a form of protest or activism is legitimate?

Whether “Google bombing as a form of protest or activism is legitimate” is a matter of debate. 

On one side, some see it as an eye-catching way to spread awareness about an issue, functioning as a form of free speech.

On the other side, most think it's a deceptive way to trick search engine results, going against Google's rules. It could also negatively impact a website's search rankings and reputation.

Also, whether or not Google bombing as a form of protest or activism is legitimate depends on the specific circumstances of the campaign.

However, individuals and groups need to consider the potential risks and consequences before engaging in Google bombing. They must explore alternative methods of raising awareness and promoting their cause in an ethical and sustainable way.


Google bombing was once a popular tool used by digital marketers to drive traffic to their websites. It has become less effective in recent years due to changes in Google's algorithms.

In 2007, Google updated their system to stop Google bombing and similar tricks. Now Google is good at spotting fake or harmful links that try to lower a website's ranking.

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