Google says it won't manually manipulate its search results, even when pranksters push unwarranted links to the top of the results list with so-called "googlebombing" tactics.
The most recent embarrassment for Google? Type "failure" into the Google search field. The number one result: President George W. Bush's official bio hosted by the White House Web site. "We've received some complaints recently from users who assume that this reflects a political bias on our part," wrote Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer products on the company's blog. "In this case, a number of webmasters use the phrases [failure] and [miserable failure] to describe and link to President Bush's website, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases. We don't condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we're also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up."
Actually, googlebombing Bush is nothing new. In late 2003, for instance, 30 or so sites with the phrase "miserable failure" linked to the same bio page; earlier that year, another googlebomb led searches for the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" to a joke page that read "The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspector mandate."
"Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don't affect the overall quality of our search service," said Google's Mayer.
Google's not the only search service to be hit. Searches on Yahoo and Ask Jeeves using the words "miserable failure" return the same Bush bio in the first spot, while "failure" typed into MSN's search puts the bio as the number two result.