Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Googling the Religious Left

Checking Google rankings, I see that my Religious Left homepage is the second site that comes up. I really appreciate the help people have given as far as linking to that page whenever possible, and will welcome any additional assistance in spreading the word so that people can find my site in its new location, and de-link from religiousleft dot blogspot dot com. Long story short--that *was* my url, and then for some reason one day I logged into Blogger and found *all* of the blogs I'd created gone. As I tried, pointlessly, to get a response from someone at blogger, and also tried to rebuild some of my more critical blogs, it didn't occur to me to check to see if I could recreate all of my blogs. It didn't seem to make much sense, given that I now knew that my blogs on Blogspot could be wiped away at the drop of a hat, for no apparent reason, and there was no way to contact anyone for help.

But what, in hindsight, I *should* have realized even if I didn't plan to rebuild my whole Religious Left blog on Blogspot, I should at very least try to grab the url so that it doesn't fall into the hands of someone who is hostile to the religious left. I guess I must be naive--I just don't even think like that. But since obviously some people do, the *first* site that comes up on a Google search for "religious left" is my old site, ahem, "under new management".

My understanding of Googlebombing is that it's about consistently linking certain words to a web site, like when lots of liberal bloggers would make the words miserable failure link to the page with Bush's biography. If you visit that page, you will find that the words miserable failure do not appear anywhere on that page. But Bush's bio page on the White House web site shows up as the top result when you search for the words miserable failure simply because so many people did what I just did above.

A Google bomb or Google wash is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given site in results returned by the Google search engine. Due to the way that Google's PageRank algorithm works, a website will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text.

But knowing how that algorithm works, you can influence where your own site appears in rankings. My Religious Left blog at its old (now hijacked) url reached the first position in Google search results as a combination of the fact that I named the sites "The Religious Left", and it had the words Religious Left in the url, *and* because over two years many people linked to things I posted on my Religious Left blog.

So, the fact that S.B.'s "blog" (one post so far, announcing less than honorable intentions for the site) is now parked in my old spot, allowed him or her to benefit from entirely unearned top Google ranking. Not sure what to call that. The words "stealing" and "fraud" occur to me...at very least the behavior is "not okay.