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Manipulating search engine algorithms: the case of Google

Manipulating search engine algorithms: the case of Google Purpose – To investigate how search engine users manipulate the rankings of search results. Search engines employ different ranking methods in order to display the “best” results first. One of the ranking methods is PageRank, where the number of links pointing to the page influences its rank. The “anchor text,” the clickable text of the hypertext link is another “ingredient” in the ranking method. There are a number of cases where the public challenged the Google's ranking, by creating a so‐called “Google bomb” – creating links to pages they wanted to be highly ranked for given query. Google is chosen as the search engine, because it is currently by far the most popular search engine. Design/methodology/approach – PageRank, one of the major parameters of Google's ranking algorithm is described, and the author explains how this algorithm is exploited by communities of users to promote a certain web page for a specific query. This process is called “Google bombing.” Recent reaction of Google to this phenomenon is also described. Findings – Specific examples of “accomplished Google bombs” show that the public is able to manipulate search results. Originality/value – Google, instead of being an unobtrusive information retrieval tool has become highly influential in the web scenery. Some users pay for search engine optimization, while others utilize the power of the crowd to influence Google's rankings. This paper supports the claims of Introna and Nissenbaum regarding the power of search engines. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Emerald Publishing

Manipulating search engine algorithms: the case of Google

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1477-996X
DOI
10.1108/14779960710837623
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – To investigate how search engine users manipulate the rankings of search results. Search engines employ different ranking methods in order to display the “best” results first. One of the ranking methods is PageRank, where the number of links pointing to the page influences its rank. The “anchor text,” the clickable text of the hypertext link is another “ingredient” in the ranking method. There are a number of cases where the public challenged the Google's ranking, by creating a so‐called “Google bomb” – creating links to pages they wanted to be highly ranked for given query. Google is chosen as the search engine, because it is currently by far the most popular search engine. Design/methodology/approach – PageRank, one of the major parameters of Google's ranking algorithm is described, and the author explains how this algorithm is exploited by communities of users to promote a certain web page for a specific query. This process is called “Google bombing.” Recent reaction of Google to this phenomenon is also described. Findings – Specific examples of “accomplished Google bombs” show that the public is able to manipulate search results. Originality/value – Google, instead of being an unobtrusive information retrieval tool has become highly influential in the web scenery. Some users pay for search engine optimization, while others utilize the power of the crowd to influence Google's rankings. This paper supports the claims of Introna and Nissenbaum regarding the power of search engines.

Journal

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in SocietyEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 19, 2007

Keywords: Information searches; Search engines; Internet

References