If you search for “Michelle Obama” on Google’s Image Search, you’ll find an offensive picture as the very first result.

Google has taken the rather extrordinary step of taking out an AdWords ad to explain the situation.  The advertisement clicks through to their explanation of why the image appears, and includes an explanation:

Search engines are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the Internet. A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query.

Michelle Obama Google Image Spam
Michelle Obama Google Image Spam

How did this offensive image get to be at the top of the results?

I have written previously about how to optimise images for search engines, and the first step would be to check for a Googlebomb, or a campaign of inbound linking to inappropriately force a web page to the top of the search results for a particular page.

I’m perpelexed to see the page containing the image  doesn’t appear to have any inbound links?


Michelle Obama No Links from Yahoo


Yahoo Site Explorer reports 5 inbound links to the actual image

Michelle Obama Image Inbound Links
Michelle Obama Image Inbound Links

I’m sure there will be lots written about this, so I’ll update the post when more analysis uncovers why this image ranks as well as it does.

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