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idiot - Google Search

The word "idiot" is trending #1 on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 with a count of over 200,000 searches. In a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked to explain why a Google image search for the word "idiot" turned up with a majority of pictures of President Donald Trump. Google was under fire Tuesday, suspected of causing or permitting intentional bias in the search results.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai replied by explaining how Google search works:

"Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of [websites'] pages in our index. And we take the keyword and match it against their pages and rank them based on over 200 signals — things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query. And then we evaluate them with external raters, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines. And that's how we make sure the process is working."

Pichai explained that news outlets reported on the Trump "idiot" results earlier in 2018, and that a lot of the search results are currently referring to news reports that explain why the apparent bias occurred. The initial bias apparently occurred as a result of outside parties (average Google users of the service) gaming Google's search results, a well-known tactic known as "Google bombing."

Google bombing and Googlewashing refer to the practice of intentionally causing a website to rank highly in web search engine results (ideally position 1-4 on the first search results page). Often the "Google Bomb" involves irrelevant, unrelated or off-topic search terms by linking heavily in text from remote pages that use anchor text (e.g., "idiot") with the non-visible referral code (target link) that links to a specific web page. Google Bombing is not exactly the same as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is the practice of improving the search engine listings of web pages by attempting to acquire relevant search terms.

Google-bombing is done for either business, political, or comedic purposes or in combination. Google's search-rank algorithm ranks pages higher for a particular search phrase if enough other pages linked to it use similar anchor text. Google reported it took countermeasures to prevent popular Google Bombs from succeeding about 10 years ago -- apparently on a case-by-case bases. By January 2007 Google's search algorithm was tweaked to counter popular Google bombs such as "miserable failure" referring to content regarding George W. Bush and regarding Michael Moore.

In April 2012, the website Search Engine Watch reported that  Google announced its "Penguin" update would be changing the way the search engine managed anchor text, implying that anchor text would not be as important regarding their ranking metrics in the algorithm. Google anticipated a diversified link profile with a mix of anchor text and other types of links would have greater influence in the search algorithm.  However, succinct and Long Tail Keyword are still reported by SEO professionals to have a strong correlation with Google rankings and are still recommended as useful practices for Search Engine Optimization.

Web results (the article was posted about 2 hours after the actual search attempt. Therefore the elapsed time references in the article are not relevant, and the actual search results at the time of the posting of the article may have involved a change since the original search)


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