In a blast from the (internet) past, an old Google prank has returned to mark this week's inauguration of Barack Obama as US president.

The so-called 'Googlebombing' funsters managed to manipulate the search engine's results so that searching for the word "failure" returned links to Obama's online biography as the top result.

Bush whacked

For some odd reason, typing "cheerful achievement" also achieved the same result. Almost four years ago googlebombing resulted in George W. Bush's website hitting the top of the results page.

Google said on Saturday that it had managed to restore sanity to its results and prevent the misplaced appearance of the Obama site.

Computing power

One of its software engineers explained: "Rather than edit these prank results by hand, we developed an algorithm a few years ago to detect Googlebombs.

"We tend not to run it all the time, because it takes some computing power to process our entire web index and because true Googlebombs are quite rare."

The same searches now prominently yield – rather appropriately – results linking to pages that discuss Googlebombs.