About a month ago, Google launched a Chrome browser extension that let users hide specific domains from search results. Soon, that feature will be available in multiple web browsers — no extension required.
The option to block websites from Google search results is rolling out on Friday for users of Chrome 9 and higher, Internet Explorer 8 and higher, and Firefox 3.5 and higher. Next to each search result, users will see a snippet of text that reads “block all example.com results.” Click it, and you’ll never see that domain on Google again.
To use the feature, you’ll have to be signed in to a Google account. This allows you to manage a list of blocked sites from search settings. Whenever a result is blocked from search, a notification will appear, so you can still view results from blacklisted domains on a case-by-case basis.
For now, Google says it’s not going to use the results of this feature to influence page rank, but may consider it in the future. That’s a slightly different stance from when Google introduced Personal Blocklist in mid-February. At the time, Google said it would “study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”
Google’s been waging a war lately on search spam and so-called “content farms,” a phrase ascribed to low-quality, high-quantity writing that serves mainly to appease search algorithms. Last month, the company announced major changes to its algorithm that would affect 11.8 percent of all searches. An independent study from SEOClarity found that the changes hurt page rankings for TheFind.com, BizRate.com, ShopWiki.com, EzineArticles, HubPages and Associated Content, among others.
It certainly looks like Google’s doing a lot to fight bad search results, and that may be part of the goal. A pair of recent New York Times stories — one about a sleazy merchant who used negative feedback to boost his page rank, and another about J.C. Penney’s dirty search engine optimization tactics — have exposed weaknesses in Google’s algorithm. Spam and content farms are a separate issue, one that’s been stewing among tech watchers for some time, but it’s all bruising Google’s image just the same.