John Hiler follows up last week’s article about why Google loves blogs with even more information about how Google bombs can get created, the power frequently-trafficked sites have to influence Google search results, and the implications for Google users long-term. With respect to Goolge bombs, Hiler says that “the weblog community is only now beginning to come to terms with a new application that subverts the very technology that powers Google.” (I wrote about Hiler’s original post last week.)
John Robb responds, “ This is also a case of a journalist looking for a flashy, shallow angle on a story. This isn’t a scandal.” Doc Searls read the same post, and comments, “Thoughtful and thorough, as usual. More primary research grist here than you’ll find in the average print pub, no?”
Pretty funny how two people can see the same piece and reach such different conclusions. For my money, Hiler has hit on something, and with his two posts, documented some pretty compelling implications of Google’s influence and its methodology. I think the practice of Google bombing is ultimately not that big of a deal – but how far away can Google hacking be? I would define Google hacking as groups of individuals who control high-traffic sites (or, for that matter, take control of a high traffic site) using that control to deliberately influence search results. Hiler wants to know how this will make people money. I’m equally interested in how this can cost organizations money. (Think of it as inverse advertising: how much is it worth to you to have a competitor not show up in a search result box? How much is it worth to you to show up for search terms that would relate to your competitors?) And can individuals hijack search results, offering to release the #1 spot to the highest bidder?