SBI! Scam... Google Bombing
As A Commercial Weapon
The SBI! scam attack is a concerning example of how to use "Google Bombing" to damage a company's reputation and hurt their product sales. We explained how a group of make money online marketers (MMOers) produced a plethora of negative Site Build It! reviews and - through interlinking them with relevant keywords in the links - pushed them up Google's search results pages for the targeted terms.
What is Google Bombing? According to Wikipedia, the term "refers to practices intended to influence the ranking of particular pages in results returned by the Google search engine in order to increase the likelihood of people finding and clicking on selections in which the individual or other entity engaging in this practice is interested. It is done for either business, political, or comedic purposes (or a combination of the latter two)".
In other words, if you manage to get enough links to a web page using a particular anchor text (for example 'SBI! scam'), this page will achieve a high Google Web site ranking for the targeted anchor text (in our example for 'SBI! scam') as the search term. The lower the number of pages that Google has in its database for the targeted term, the easier it is to influence search rankings through inbound links with the specific term in the link.
So, while creating a Google Bomb for highly searched terms like 'apple', 'laptop' or 'Obama' would be very difficult (as there are so many pages around those topics in Google's search index), using this practice to target less popular phrases (e.g. SBI! scam or variations like Sitebuildit Scam) can be very effective... like in the famous example where searching for 'miserable failure' would return the official White House biography of George W. Bush.
Google's Guidelines specifically outlaw the practice. Note especially these points by Google...
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings...
Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking...
And Google clarifies even further on this page about link schemes, where it forbids...
Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you.")
Now compare Google's guidelines against the instructions that the two leading MMOers gave to their followers in the SBI! scam attack. Below are two direct quotes from their sites (emboldening is ours)...
The Wikipedia article mentioned above explains how Google bombs have typically been humorous in nature and/or with political overtones. The SBI! scam attack, though, is purely commercial in nature. The MMOers' goal was to damage the reputation of a competitor's product (SBI!) while at the same time promoting their own products. The development of a commercial Google Bomb is a dangerous concept. Anything done for money tends to spread. And using Google to damage a competitor's reputation is certainly a cheap, rapid technique.
Anyone Can Set Up A Google Bomb... But Why Would You?
A Google Bomb could easily be orchestrated by just about anyone. All they'd have to do is hire two Webmasters...
- each with one or more high-traffic sites in your particular niche,
- each with a large reach of people who will do their exact bidding without considering the ethics of it all,
- each who don't care about doing their own due diligence about the product or company you wish to attack, nor will their followers,
- and each who are willing to violate Google's Guidelines (putting themselves at risk).
Of course they could also just as easily become the victim of such an attack themselves by an unethical competitor, disgruntled ex-employee or ex-associate or even ex-customer. It does not require a million dollar budget to damage what you have spent millions of dollars and a decade to build. All it takes is a competitor to hire two Webmasters with the above criteria. But in the end, Google will catch up with them and shut them down.