How "Anonymous" Manipulated Search Results Using Anchor Text
Scientology has become one of the most controversial “religions” to date. Most people believe that Scientology is nothing more than a scam, disguising itself as religion. Others take Scientology quite seriously. Germany has banned the practice of Scientology, stating that the “Church” of Scientology is nothing more than a cult. Recently, a group of elite hackers have launched internet based attacks on the Church of Scientology and its websites. The most recent attacks focus on a search engine exploit known as “search bombing”.
A search bomb, according to Wikipedia, is Internet slang for an attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by a search engine, often with humorous or political intentions. Because of the way that search algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page use consistent anchor text. A search bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner.
For example, observe the following HTML code:
The code above will produce a link that looks like this: The People’s Media Company Notice the address is not visible, only the descriptive “anchor text”. This can be used to manipulate search results because the number of links to a site as well as the most consistent anchor text determine what search terms the website should most likely be indexed under. A similar exploit can be seen by visiting Google and entering the search text “miserable failure” and clicking the “I’m feeling lucky” option. While the original exploit no longer works, the search does yield a BBC news article on the original exploit.
The hackers in question, known only as “Anonymous” are attempting to “search bomb” the phrase “dangerous cult” so that Scientology.org is the first result for the search term. If the campaign is successful, it will mark another traumatic blow to the Church of Scientology. “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for several other attacks against Scientology.org, several of which have overloaded the Scientology web servers and forced the site offline.