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Adam Mathes a Stanford University student wanted to play a practical joke on his friend Andy Pressman. Andy Pressman had a website, Mathes wanted to make Pressman’s web site rank No.1 in Google search result for “”talentless hack.”” Mathes set about encouraging as many people with web sites as possible to link to Pressman’s site using those words. (Andy “”talentless hack”” Pressman.)

The prank worked and today Pressman’s web site is still Google’s No.1 search result for the phrase. Mathes coined a name for his prank: “”Google Bombing.””

Like many other search engines, Google regularly crawls the web to find new pages und check known pages for new content. To accurately summarise what a page is about Google takes more into account than the page itself. Instead of just looking for keywords, Google also ranks a page’s importance by the number of other sites that link to it and the phrases used in the link text. A page that a lot of people have found useful and referred to via links will be ranked higher than one that no one refers to.

By exploiting this method, it is possible to influence the relevancy of a webpage so that Google returns it when people search for certain phrases, even when those phrases are out of context or don’t appear on the page. Therefore, if you want your arch enemy’s page to rank No. 1 on Google for “”stupid moron””, get as many people as possible to link to his page using “”stupid moron”” as anchor text.

At the time of writing this article web users entering the words “”miserable failure”” into the popular search engine are directed to the biography of the president on the White House website. Also try ‘unelectable’.

Google is fighting back against these attempts to influence its rankings by identifying “”artificial”” link structures and adjusting or eliminating their influence if they manipulate results in a way that does not meet with user expectation.

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