Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scientology, Googlebombs and the Algorithm

There is a discussion as to whether certain Scientology search results are a Googlebomb or not.

Google announced they'd tweaked their algorithm to cope with the Googlebomb not long before SES London last year. We were lucky enough to have Matt Cutts and Vanessa Fox along for that one. During SES London a number of high profile SEO speakers/bloggers called Google liar, claimed there was no such algorithm and that it was all manually done.

It was one of those times I felt like standing up, shouting over to the speaker and getting them to clairfy that this was their personal opinion and not a known fact.

When I spoke to Google about this - pointing out what was said - they were clearly annoyed/upset. I can understand why they don't like being called liars!

I do think the Googlebomb fix is algorithmic and here's one simple way it could work.
  1. The algorithm tends to put media coverage discussing the Googlebomb attempt above the actual Googlebomb when the algorithm is in effect
  2. Media coverage is, I theorise, the key.
  3. The algorithm picks up on the possible Googlebomb once enough trusted news sources call out a search result as a Googlebomb
  4. After all, there are probably thousands of 'invisible' Googlebombs but it only becomes an issue once the results become 'political' or a talking point.
  5. The very same trusted news sources which are used to identify the Googlebomb attempt are then easily upgraded, algorithmically, with a bonus weight appropriate to their own influence and the weight of the Googlebomb target page
  6. The weighting ensures the news sources are ranked appropriately among themselves but out rank the Googlebomb target page

If this is an algorithm and if enough news sources talk about the dangerous cult search then we can expect the Google results to change fairly quickly.