The internet search site Google is being used by some people to play jokes on their friends. These people have found a way to improve the rankings of particular webpages, to make sure a site is near the top of the results for particular search phrases.

Before now, the way Google ranked webpages made it immune to the tactics many businesses use to improve their position in web searches. Unlike some other search engines, Google doesn?t trust webpages to accurately summarize what they?re about. Instead of just looking for keywords, Google also ranks a page?s importance by the number of other sites that link to it and the phrases they use to describe the link. A page that a lot of people have found useful on a particular subject will be ranked higher than one that no one else refers to. Google also rates new webpages and links higher than old sites and referrals.

By exploiting this, some people have found a way to artificially influence the rankings of the webpages that Google returns when people search for certain phrases. This was first used by Adam Mathes, who has a website containing interesting links. He was able to manipulate Google so that whenever anyone typed in the phrase ?talentless hack,? they got the website of his friend Andy Pressman.

Other people were inspired by this, and some of them have used his tactics to mount protests and fight what they feel are unfair things said about them or their organizations on the web.

There are now thousands of people who have personal websites, and it is through their collaboration that this can work. If a few hundred of them host the same link and describe it in the same way, then as far as Google is concerned, the page they refer to is likely to be a good resource on that subject.

NOTE: This news story, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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