An internet forum with a large userbase has recently demonstrated that Google's Trends lists can be manipulated in order to give an artificially high ranking to certain terms. The Forum encouraged users to enter an ascii equivelant of a place next to two horizontal columns into the Google search criteria. The string, ? ??, subesequently began appearing in the list of popular search terms made available to internet users via Google's popular Trends facility.
Google said they saw "lots of queries from a number of different places in a short period of time" however did not specifiy whether the searches came from actual users or automated bots. Previously the systems has been manipulated in a similar way in order to place a swastika in the list. In both cases there appears to be no serious motive for the prank other than mischief however it highlights the oportunity to replicate the method using a string designed to deliver a specific website to the top of a user's results list. This would surely lead to an increase in traffic top the desired site.
The Trends lists are generated automatically from the company's search data, Google quickly identified the prank and removed the offending entry. The system along with Google Insight provides a valuable analysis tool for webmasters and search engine optimization staff.
Would you like to know more about Google's web analysis tools? If so, contact HitSearch, SEO and Google adWords qualified PPC specialists, on 0845 643 9289. Remember, its a big world out there, make sure you become visible.