Defamation on the Internet: What is a Google Bomb?

Defamation on the internet

A Google Bomb. What a scary phrase. Surely you must have heard this term being used before and wondered what it actually meant.

So what does the term “Google Bomb” really mean and how can a Google Bomb affect you or your business?

In short, a Google Bomb is a way to promote a web page by associating it with a phrase, for example ‘Internet Lawyer’. By clicking on ‘Internet Lawyer’ and arriving directly at a web page, you are in effect telling Google that the phrase and the web page are related.

When someone carries out a search for the phrase ‘Internet Lawyer’ Google will take a note of how many web users linked the phrase to a webpage, and the webpage which comes out as the most popular in this contest will be ranked higher than other pages.

Phrases can be linked to webpages by internet links on a web page, or by email. What is important is the number of web users who arrive at a webpage, for example http://www.internetexpert.com through a click on the phrase ‘Internet Lawyer’.

So far so good. You can surely see how this simple technique could be utilised to promote your own website. But this is not where this ends. The problems start when people link completely artificial phrases to webpages. For example, if you link someone’s name to a webpage that you had created about them, using effective Google Bomb techniques, everyone who carries out a search on this person, is likely to arrive at the page that you had created, rather than at that person’s own website. This way, you could create devastating publicity to your victim and their business.

Here is a potentially horrific example of a particularly nasty Google Bomb.

A similar Google Bomb to the one described below was created by the ex-wife of once a successful and perfectly respected local businessman, let’s call him John Smith, who made the mistake of trying to swap his wife of 15 years for a younger woman.

Once the divorce process was over, John’s ex-wife went on a mission to completely destroy her former husband.

She sent hundreds of emails in the name of her ex-husband:

Dear xxx,
it’s John Smith. I want you to do me a big favour and have a look at this website for me. Please let me know what you think. The link is
John Smith. It will only take you a minute and I really want to know what you think about this.
John SmithI will say nothing more. When you click on John Smith you will see why. When you've finished reading the webpage, come back and we will talk about how to avoid becoming a Google Bomb Victim.

How To Avoid Becoming a Google Bomb Victim
Well, there are a lot of things that you should definitely do. To start, make a point of being more involved with your marketing. Whether you like it or not, and whatever you think about internet marketing, an effective Google Bomb has the potential of ruining your business big time, regardless of whether you use the internet to attract new customers.

You must therefore give high priority to some positive web presence. Try to get something posted on the internet about you or your company as often as you can in order to stop somebody else from ‘hijacking’ your name and associating it with their own webpages. I would say you should aim to post something which carries your name with a link to your own website at least once a week.

Then, you might want to consider using email marketing. Don’t use it necessarily with the intention to sell anything and certainly don’t use it to create spam, but rather try and use email marketing as an informative educational tool. Within your email, prompt the recipients to click on a link, which contains your company’s name.

Depending on the quality of your mailing list and the quality of the information, which you provide in your email marketing, the clicks from the emails that you send could result in a friendly Google Bomb, which will promote your own website and will make it difficult for an external, harmful Google Bombs to be effective, when directed against you.

Author: Yair Cohen
Social media lawyer