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 tooptimise imagesfor 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.

One response to “Michelle Obama Image Spam on Google”

  1. Dennis Hollingworth says:

    I saw that their (Google’s) initial response was ‘does not affect policy of inclusion or exclusion of contents’, and that the search company believes in ‘free speech’.

    Initially, this may sound a bit of an automated cop-out. Having said that, the brand that Google sits as could hardly offer up an Orwellian stance. I’m sure that ‘instances’ such as this (other subjects being the unfortunate target), run to their thousands, but with the profile that Ms Obama has we should have expected no less a reaction. I did notice what appeared to be quite a few paid results yesterday coming up with reference to ‘Michelle Obama’ in the visible results, and clearly non at all when clicked through.

    Re the links, Google in-bounds are the main source of frustration, Google not showing any, or some, when there may well be over a 100 that ‘do follow’. This seems to be a common problem; from what I read on-line and speaking to others. With in-bounds account for around 70% of the seo result (the rest being on-page), it would be good to solve the riddle!
    I may not be the only one at the Online Marketing Conference with pen poised for a possible expansion on that subject!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *