‘English Person’ C-Word was NOT a Google Bomb – Explained

Was the Google result for “english person” a prank or was it simply an error in the Google algorithm? Read on to find out why many, including The Huffington Post, were wrong about this one. This is an update to my original post which can be found here. Google has now manually removed the Wikipedia result.

One June 15th if you Googled “english person” the result would be pretty bad. But this wasn´t a Google bomb. This post explains why.

There have been many manipulations of Google  search results by pranksters and of course SEO is at it´s core an intentional manual attempt to make a page rank for specific words.


The Google Bomb

Google Bomb happens when people put links on websites with the intention of matching words with  a specific page which is not relevant. This is usually done as a joke or out of spite.


Why This Was Not A Google Bomb

No one was linking the words english person to the wikipedia entry. There are several tools on the web that can show you which other websites are linking to a page. Here are some of the free tools available:

 Using these tools it becomes clear that no one was specifically targeting the wikipedia page with the words “english person” – this was not a Google bomb.
So what did happen? Using those tools you can see that certain celebrities were being targeted with their name linking to the Wikipedia entry for the c-word. So these “people” or “persons”, some of who are “english” are being linked to the Wikipedia page.
Here are some examples from Blekko where some english people were linked to the c-word wikipedia page.
Additionally, the Wikipedia page itself contains the words “english” (29 times) and “person” (6 times) making it somewhat relevant to the search even though it doesn´t contain them together (0 results for english person).
The Google algorithm made the connection between these persons and the Wikipeedia page completely on it´s own and served it as the top result while simultaneously insulting every English person! This is the Google Semantic Search algorithm at work folks.

Anchor Text and Google

Google Penguin is the friendly name given to one of the big recent Google algorithm updates and one of the things it is responsible for is a shift away from anchor text (the link text) as a relevance factor. So much so that websites that were abusing links with keywords to gain higher rankings have been hit hard.

Google bombing is actually harder than ever now because  too many links with the same anchor text instantly incur a penalty to the website. Especially if these links are of questionable quality.

But have Google shot themselves in the foot with this one? By moving away from anchor text relevance they have opened up Pandora´s Box and we might start seeing a lot more strange results similar to what happened with “english person”. You also have to wonder if search quality hasn´t been compromised.  With Google´s results questionably being worse and Bing´s better are we going to witness a change in search engine dominance soon? Siri uses several search engines including Bing and Wolfram Alpha to try to find the best result (which might not be Google´s). What if other devices and browsers began using similar search aggregators? Where would that leave Google?






4 thoughts on “‘English Person’ C-Word was NOT a Google Bomb – Explained

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  • CFR

    As an English person I must point out an error in the above, otherwise splendid, analysis. We, the English, are quite grown up about such trivial matters and I nor anyone else with whom I discussed the matter found it in the least “insulting”. Everyone I know found it terribly amusing that anyone could and would go to the trouble of deliberately misguiding Google in such a way. The fact that it now appears to have been no more than an aberration of Google’s particular statistical methods only exacerbates the level of humour.

  • Marcos Post author

    Had Google not manually removed the result there would eventually be public outcry over it. Unfortunately, there are too many people who take words too seriously and don’t have a sense of humour.

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