Dem Bloggers Ready 'Google Bomb' Campaign

A Google search on the name "George Allen"--a Republican U.S. Senator from Virginia running to retain his seat--now returns his official Senate page as the top organic result. But if some bloggers have their way, the top result will instead be "New 'N Word' Woe For George Allen," a CBS News article from September, highlighting the Senator's alleged use of a racial slur.

A coalition of Democratic-leaning bloggers are planning an en masse search engine optimization campaign, in the form of "Google bombs," in hopes of highlighting negative stories about GOP candidates. The bloggers plan to manipulate the search engine's results via blog posts that link the candidates' names to unflattering articles.

Past political Google bombs have included linking the biography pages for President George W. Bush and former President Jimmy Carter to the phrase "miserable failure," and the John Kerry senatorial Web site to the word "Waffles" during the 2004 Presidential campaigns.

But, although "bombing" has worked in the past, Google says it has recently tweaked its algorithms to prevent people from bombing. "We make changes to the algorithms to make the searches better," a spokesman said. "Invariably, this does take care of some of these attempts at Google bombing which are not true organic results."

This election cycle's Google bombing is being masterminded by Chris Bowers, author of the popular liberal blog MyDD.com. On Tuesday, Bowers posted the code for 52 links to news articles and Wikipedia entries detailing scandals that Republican candidates and incumbents for the Senate and House have been involved in. Bowers on Tuesday asked that blog authors post the links in their own blogs with the candidate's name as the link text--thus creating inbound links on those articles, and driving up the page rank for those pages and raising them in Google's natural search results.

But David Berkowitz, director of strategic planning for search engine marketing firm 360i, said this Google bombing campaign likely faces a hard fight--partly because candidates' names already are tied to so many news articles and Web pages that it's harder to push any one article to the top of the results. Gaining search prominence in this situation, he said, "is much more of an uphill battle."

In fact, Berkowitz said it was unlikely that the campaign would be able to push their chosen articles to the top of the results before Election Day. "Maybe if this was started several months ago, but there's not even time for this to build," he said.

Bowers said that he was confident they'd pull it off. On Wednesday night, Bowers advised blog authors to add the new "bombing" links to their blog templates, which would retroactively add them to every post they have ever made, creating still more inbound links to the negative articles.

Bowers also is planning a paid search campaign to complement the Google bombing, but declined to discuss the details of the keyword buy. On his blog, Bowers stated: "I don't want to tip off right-wingers."