Vatican Googlebombed

In case you think i’ve gone slightly mad, I shall explain. Googlebombing is a technique to influence the ranking of certain sites within Google results by having a large amount of pages with the same anchor text linking to one site. Some notable examples of this are:
– Upon typing ‘miserable failure’ into Google around the time of the 2004 election, George W Bush would be the top result, see image.
– Or typing ‘liar’ around the same time would return Tony Blair as number one.

It is, of course, heavily frowned upon by Google. Before 2007, Google’s algorithm was susceptible to these kind of practices, but with a new update that lessened the weight given to similar anchor text and link farms, amongst other things, the problem was though to have been pretty much solved.

But not so apparently. Over the weekend, if you searched for ‘Holy See’ (the official name for the Catholic church in Rome), the first result would be ‘’, the Italian word for paedophile. The page either contained nothing or has now been taken down, but slightly embarrassing none the less days after the church announces new regulations over allegations of child abuse by priests and other clergy.
Regardless of the motivation for this, is it not slightly worrying that this tactic can still be employed. There have been many revisions of the Google algorithm since 2007 when it really blew up, but still it appears to work. What does it imply that after billions of dollars and over 10 years of algorithm tweaking, the results of the world’s largest search provider can be corrupted?

Chris is a web designer with 8 years of experience, working with designbysoap as a permanent freelancer on their web design in Brighton.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Email this article