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Bombing John McCain

...with Google:

Bowers chose the news articles by matching the topics to existing polling data that shows what issues likely will turn voters off to McCain. He also makes sure that the articles come from news organizations like, which already are highly ranked in Google search results, he added.

"We're just using McCain's own words -- everything we are targeting are things McCain has done or said himself. There's no bias at all. There are no opinion pieces. They are all news pieces that quote McCain himself. Obviously it is manipulating, but search engines are not public forums and unless you act to use them for your own benefit your opponent's information is going to get out there. This is the sort of 'Do It Yourself' activism that is very much in line with the tone of this campaign," Bowers said.

Somehow, based on some of Google's actions in the past, I suspect they don't mind.


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Josh Reiter wrote:

Google makes it a bit easier now to do this sort of targeting and analysis of sites that are frequented most often for specific subject matter with their Google Trends site. Back in them 'oldin days of the internet it used to be much easier to sway the results of less sophisticated search engines. Now it seems that Google may have provided people with the means of a benchmarking I/O with which to analyze the forcing of results.

Carl Pham wrote:

Well, two can play at that game. Now TT has linked to the "Google bombing John McCain" story. If enough other folks do so -- hopefully the McCain campaign is seeing to that -- then the story about Google-bombing McCain will be even higher in the search results for "McCain" than any of the negative stories.

Sterling wrote:

This is not actually 'google-bombing'. That term was used to describe the practice of associating derogatory terms (e.g. 'idiot') with the names of individuals. This current effort is simply an attempt to raise the Pagerank and relevance (via anchor text) of certain articles about John McCain by using his own name. It's sneaky but not outright deceptive.

It's easy enough to combat - we just need to identify ten positive or balanced pages about McCain and then get lots of people to link to them.

I'm not even sure that's necessary, though, because this seems like little more than a fairly harebrained scheme for Chris Bowers to draw attention to himself. See, internet users generally don't google the general form of a term they're already familiar with. For example, people are more likely to want to know more specific things about McCain, so they'll google things like "John McCain taxes" or "John McCain healthcare" or a hundred different other combinations that will barely register on Google Trends.

Bottom line: the McCain campaign's SEO practices should be focused on strong showings in critical keyword combinations, not really on "John McCain".

Jim Durbin wrote:

The Right is way behind in this - and it's not just John McCain. In Missouri, a couple of progressive activists associated with ACT, ACORN, and ProVote created a blog to fight against the Voter ID act. They generated hundreds of links from highly ranked progressive blogs,got media coverage, and were cited by the Secretary of State in a planned internet operation.

It was done in less than two weeks, and it's being replicated for issues across the country.

The Missourians For Fair Elections site was then replaced with a single press release, and the site wiped of the names (partly due to my research).

The result? The Voter ID didn't pass, in part because of the pressure of these groups.

It's war, and we're not even aware that there's fighting.

The details wrote:

I discussed this effort at my name's link. In addition to the point made by Sterling, there are a few more. Including one relating to those who leave blog comments thinking they'll make a difference.

What if some of the issues they're trumpeting will lose them votes?

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 20, 2008 5:43 AM.

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