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Search Engines - The New Battle Ground for Middle East Conflicts?
SEO Contest Pits Israel Against Iran

 3:55 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is the 3rd time this week that politics and seo have seriously crossed paths. I find it fascinating that SEO would be used for such purely political purposes.


The Israel News Agency in posting these Holocaust cartoons from Iran, has launched an SEO - Internet search engine optimization marketing contest to prevent Iran and Islam terrorist groups news Websites from reaching top positions in Google. This is the first time that a SEO contest was created for a political and humanitarian cause. And the INA has secured Olympic gold in its quest to outrank any and all Arab and Islam Websites as when one searches for the key words: "iran holocaust cartoons" the Israel News Agency has secured a Google first place ranking.

Is this a new era for seo?



 4:01 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sounds like something that might backfire as dupe content, as described further in the article.

Matt Probert

 4:20 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Makes me ashamed of my Jewish ancestry (my father was Jewish).

I can not believe (yes I can really) that the Israeli News Agency would be so childish as to resort to racist tit-for-tat nonsense such as this.



 4:26 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

The Google result for the word 'jew' has long been an SEO battleground...


 4:31 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is tough to do with such a divisive issue, but can we stick to the seo aspects please.

I don't think there has ever been anything like this on this scale.


 4:37 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

This really could set bad precedence, and can be the birth of another monster that the search engines will now have to deal with. This obviously creates 'bad results': if I want to see the Holocaust cartoons, I want to be able to find them. This is a problem for the search engines.


 4:51 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

the world is waking up to SEO, I used to be the only person I personally knew that was even aware of the term. Now I hear it all the time plus get numerous requests to 'make sites #1 in Google'

This awareness will lead to a lot more of this.
Google must be the world's most popular single source of information, it is inconceivable that it will not be manipulated for propoganda etc on a much greater scale.

This could be Google's biggest test to date.
Do they make hand corrections?
It was easy to sidestep the 'miserable failure' issue but it is easy to imagine much more sensitive and sticky issues just waiting to explode


 5:12 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google has a special page in place when you search for the keyword 'jew' to avoid any liability for the result set: [google.com...]


 5:44 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Given the role search engines play in modern life, I've been wondering when or even if the notions of SEO would percolate into the mainstream at some point.

Think about what governments did in WWI, WWII, and later, WRT information dissemination, and also disinformation dissemination.

When people are using the Web as a tool to run their daily lives, is it any wonder that governments would want to control that tool?

SEO gives them the opportunity to at least try.

Funny, someone was trying to convince me last year that SEO was on the way out. I was more of the opinion that SEO is simply changing. I don't see how it could possibly go away.


 6:05 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Now adwords is different. That has been used for years already to fight some wars. Or as one major seo firm told me earlier in the week: nontraditional uses for PPC when he bought some very divisive issue based keywords to make a point. Think of the hotbutton issues and try some searches...


 6:25 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

When the pope passed away, it was in the Adwords very quickly with links to some major newspapers, so I don't think there's anything new about the PPC side of things.

'Googlebombing' has attracted a lot of press in the UK over the last year, so it's hardly unusual that the technique might be adopted for less comical or less commerical purposes.


 1:24 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

i hope Google doesn't become political and just sticks to what it does best, which is descent search results.


 9:41 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

i hope Google doesn't become political

Many would say that this is some time to late.


 7:29 am on Feb 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Regardless of the politics involved, I am curious to see how this comes out.

If it works for Israel, it might open up a new form of propaganda machine.


 11:40 pm on Feb 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I wrote about a similar topic a long time ago in the google forum but my post was never approved. I was shocked to see that any deep discussion of Holocaust topics in Google gave white supremacist groups first result on almost every search. They are at the forefront in putting the energy to every variation of research topic and when you look at the site, unless you are knowledgeable about the history of the Holocaust, you think you are looking at a history site.

Considering that kids today get their history or current events more from movies than newspapers or textbooks, and the few that do read a bit are usually googling for information, it is troubling to think how many will believe the Holocaust never happened.

You"ll probably think I"m exaggerating. But after researching several figures from documentaries I"ve seen, I was really shocked at how effective these sites are and how ineffective and nonexistent sites with the factually correct information are.


 4:34 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is a source of information.

Not a source of truth.


 4:40 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

> Regardless of the politics involved, I am curious to see how this comes out.

Danish officials hired seo's (senior WebmasterWorld members in fact) last week to help deal with the fall out of cartoon story.

Which WebmasterWorld member be the head seo for the Republican party and which will be the head seo for the Democratic party in the 2008 election cycle? Resumes are being submitted and are being read - I've heard of 2 callbacks already.


 4:55 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Bakers in Iran have renamed Danish Pastries into "Mohammed's roses" or some such.
There is no news about Swedish Meatballs or Norwegian Sardines yet.
So far tens or dozens have died over offensive cartoons.

Everything having anything to do with religion scares the c*** out of me.
I had no idea that so many people could possibly be so completely insane.


 5:52 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Exactly. But tell that to kids. Half of them can't tell the difference.


 11:14 am on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is interesting that Google is stepping up to explain that one term and its subsequent results. Search for any other terms that could be construed as derogatory and no explanations come up.

Why is that they chose that one word and nothing else? What about all the skewed results when searching for Latinos vs. Hispanics (big difference)...or as Clark pointed out, the word Holocaust, Indians (there is a difference between the Indians in Asia and the native peoples of the Americas such as the Shawnee, Sioux, etc). What about the results of searches related to upcoming elections or political leaders, religions, etc?

How many sites would be developed to mislead people searching for candidate X's idealologies or party Y's stance on sensitive topics?

I personally feel that although an explanation for the term “jew” and or any other term that has skewed results is valid especially if it deals with religion/ethnicity, it is entering shaky ground. Could they have been more diplomatic by creating a global explanation page to include a general (all encompassing) warning that results may be skewed and one should scrutinize the results?

[edited by: caveman at 6:29 pm (utc) on Feb. 19, 2006]
[edit reason] TOS #16, TOS #24 [/edit]


 3:31 pm on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is a computer.A sophisticated computer,but still a computer.
The best chess player in the world was beat by a computer - i know.
Still ,Google's capacity to evaluate information on the basis of human notions is limited.


 11:12 am on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is a computer

I'm sure we'd all (apart from spammers) love to have the number one engine a hand edited and hand ranked engine backed by the experts in each field. Maybe one day there will be money behind search to pay for it. Until that day comes, we've got to make do with a computer that judges webpages based upon the oft-inaccurate information it finds on the web.


 7:22 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I did some running around the internet today, and this "taking the war to the internet" concept seems to be gaining ground.

A month ago nobody had ever heard of some obscure Danish newspaper and a few cartoons.

Now you can find 100's of thousands of copies of those same cartoons, plus a lot more that are much worse than anything that was ever published in print.

It is not only the USA that failed to realize that protesting too much can backfire.


 9:31 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is now so clear that the people who control the knobs of the
search - engines can manipulate the world's population like puppets.


 10:04 pm on Feb 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Did i just sound like a conspiracy theorist?


 6:16 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

The firm responsible for heightening a caricature from a Danish newspaper into the trumpeting for an impending attack against Iran should be brought to the foreground of this story as soon as possible.

This could avert the war, or possibly prevent the subsequent attack on Syria.

Rolling Stone reported, in their article "The Man who sold the war", that the Rendon Group uses a service called 'Livewire' to gather this sort of news, filter it, and deploy it around the globe.


 6:42 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

re: Brett's surprise:

it takes larger institutions a little while to catch on to new ways...


 7:59 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Miserable Failure" happened ages ago, and that was definitely political. It should be no surprise that SEO and politics have come to mix: politics is about power, and SEO is about power over the search engines.

When control over every news outlet on the web is out of the question, seeking to dominate the SE's is the next logical step.


 9:52 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

This obviously creates 'bad results': if I want to see the Holocaust cartoons, I want to be able to find them. This is a problem for the search engines.

Kufu, if you search for "iran holocaust cartoons" in Google, you will be able to find the iranian holocaust cartoons in the INA page: [israelnewsagency.com...]

INA does not attempt to hide the cartoons. INA does show the cartoons in a different light though - by displaying the holocaust cartoons on the same page with actual holocaust photographs, the cartoons become somewhat less "entertaining". Don't you think?


 8:10 pm on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some worry about Google's search results becoming politicized; I worry about them not be politicized *enough*.

What better vehichle to apply economic might and strength of conviction to the war of ideas?

If every internet-using human had a $50 ppc budget and 10 page-1 SERP rankings to apply to his/her own espoused causes, you get

a)huge increases in political debate
b)far more people understanding the power of SEM/SEO
c)instant democratization of media distribution and consumption


This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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