Normally, Facebook profiles are only likely to appear in the top ranks of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) if the query is for a certain name and even then, the chances of the desired page appearing on the first page is unlikely.
Of course, this changes when the Facebook page is for a head of state like Mr Nicolas Sarkozy - but even then the phrase would normally have to be at least directly related to his name or possibly his office.
However thanks to some mischievous crowdsourced SEO by thousands of bloggers and small publishers, you could also see Mr Sarkozy’s facebook page rank in the prime position for a rather different type keyword phrase – a rather crude anatomically related insult in French, “trou du cul”. Once again, Mr Sarkozy was the target of a “Google Bomb”.
“Google bombs”, otherwise known as “Google washing”, are effectively the end result of an extremely effective blackhat SEO technique where the force of enough sites linking to a page using similar anchor text drives that page straight up search rankings. Whilst the effect is only short-term – Google has an algorithm that identifies and address the practice fairly quickly – it continues to be used for humorous and political reasons.
Previous “Google Bombs” have seen the Microsoft homepage listed as the top result for “more evil than Satan himself” (1999), or for “liar” leading to Tony Blair’s wikipedia page in 2002.
One popular example was in 2003, when the parody webpage “French Military Victories” mimicked a standard Google SERP and asked “Did you mean French Military Defeats?” - gaining 50,000 hits within 18 hours of its release. The page still ranks as number one as popular reception has overcome the initial artificial manipulation of anchor links.
In this case, the mischievous twisting of Google’s relevancy algorithms was achieved by a huge but currently unidentified net campaign to link the word’s “trou du cul” with the Facebook profile page. Although it was quickly removed, it was visible for at least a full day this week and marks the second time the French president has been targeted for a Google bomb for this exact phrase – it first happened in 2009, when Sarkozy pushed through controversial anti-piracy measures and angered a substantial portion of the online French community.
However, Mr Sarkozy has a long history with this irreverent type of search engine optimisation. Even in 2005, as a possible presidential candidate for the 2007 elections, he was targeted by the Gallic net community. For a period in October that year, searches for “nicolas sarkozy” would return “iznogood” – a link to a comic strip of the same name by the creators of Asterix, about a cut-throat second-in-command Iraqi officer determined to take over from his commanding officer.