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How Scientology gamed Google to increase the effectiveness of its Super Bowl ad

With its Super Bowl ad ‘Curious?’ nearing 1.2 million views, the Church of Scientology is no doubt pretty happy that the 30-second ad is now the most-watched video on its YouTube channel, just edging out an L. Ron Hubbard biographical spot that had a nine-year head start.

As it has since 2013, Scientology bought local ad spots during the Super Bowl broadcast for its slick ad, and the commercial has continued to run in prime time since then, in national spots during the Winter Olympics on NBC, for example.

But critics were quick to point out that Scientology was taking a huge risk with this year’s ad, which encourages viewers to do an online search for information about the church. After all, there are mountains of information on the Internet about Scientology’s controversies, the kind of stuff Scientologists are under strict instructions to avoid.

Wouldn’t encouraging television viewers to enter a Google search on “What is Scientology?” backfire badly?


Actually, Scientology has apparently been preparing for this moment for some time, an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tells us.

“After your recent post about the new Scientology Super Bowl commercial I went and did exactly what the commercial suggested to do: I searched for the term ‘What is Scientology?’,” says our reader.

As others noticed when they tried the search, Scientology’s own page titled “What is Scientology?” is the number one result on Google.

One of the most important things that goes into a high ranking on Google is the amount and quality of links that a page has coming into it. And our reader decided to take a closer look at the links to Scientology’s “What is Scientology?” page to see what was giving it such influence at Google.

“I expected there to be mostly links from other Scientology-owned websites to that page. There is a lot of that, but that wasn’t what surprised me. Many of the most authoritative links to that page are coming from anti-Scientology websites!”

Say what?

“What is happening is that many sites, academic and anti-Scientology websites, have linked to over the years. The church has redirected those links to all point to that page. Redirection is a normal thing for websites. It is what you do when you change your website or URL structure. Scientology has very cleverly been redirecting those links to the pages they want to rank.”

For an example, he points to a Colorado State University website that has a page on Jainism. In that story, there’s a link to a page at Scientology’s site which was apparently also about Jainism. But Scientology has redirected that link so that if you click on it, you end up at the “What is Scientology?” page.

Clever, isn’t it?

Our reader found similar redirected links coming from Dave Touretzky’s site, as well as and

“There are at least 10 links on Dave Touretzky’s website at Carnegie Mellon which are being redirected to the ‘What is Scientology?’ page,” he says.

In other words, Scientology has been cleverly preparing for this moment, trying to maximize search traffic to a particular page and using the Super Bowl ad to boost it.

Our reader’s conclusion? “Never link to any website owned by the Church of Scientology,” he says.


Scientology ‘Volunteer Ministers’ caught red-handed in Taiwan

Australian journalist Bryan Seymour posted this delicious scoop last night on Facebook…

“A tipster in Taiwan details another Scientology fail in the aftermath of a disaster. The Yellow Shirts blocked a street needed by rescuers, monopolised a food van meant to service actual emergency services – all so they could get this publicity shot in front of the collapsed Yunmen Tsuiti building in Hualien County – pretending to help despite having no expertise to offer. My tipster tells me locals and actual volunteers were very upset with their behaviour, prompting a half-hearted apology form the local Scientology Kaohsiung Org… but they got the photo and video they wanted. They’ve taken down the video from their Facebook page.”

Posted by Bryan Seymour on Sunday, February 11, 2018


Bonus items from our tipsters

Another momentous event approaches…



Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,023 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,626 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 169 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,232 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,006 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,780 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,126 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,620 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,660 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,372 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 898 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,987 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,127 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,447 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,422 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 778 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,080 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,186 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,589 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,461 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,043 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,548 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,792 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,901 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 12, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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