Google bombs get dismantled

No more 'miserable failure' for George W. Bush

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy

It used to be a joke around the Internet that if you Googled "miserable failure," the number-one result provided by the famed search engine was President George W. Bush's official biography on the White House's Web site. This was thanks to a "Google bomb," in which mischievous Web users would manipulate the page ranking of a search result by planting links on their Web sites that used the search terms to point to their result page of choice. But now Google has put out an announcement that states it will be "minimizing the impact" of Google bombs with a new algorithm designed to weed them out.

The reason? Some people misinterpret Google bombs as the work of pranksters at the search company itself rather than unaffiliated Web users. That isn't too good for publicity purposes; after all, some Google bombs were more malicious than your average political jab, like the anti-Semitic one that surfaced in 2004. So, while Google has said that it will not hand-remove Google bombs, that the newly-coded algorithm should take car of most of them.

Unfortunately, Google may not have had the success it wanted. Googling "miserable failure" now yields a bunch of results about the phenomenon of the Google bomb.