Posted March 10, 2011 5:03 pm by with 6 comments

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Google is taking more steps to create a truly personal search experience. Now, if you don’t like results from a site you a can remove those results from that domain completely from your future searches. Talk about the ability to get rid of content farms!

The Google blog states

You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve clicked a result and it wasn’t quite what you were looking for. Many times you’ll head right back to Google. Perhaps the result just wasn’t quite right, but sometimes you may dislike the site in general, whether it’s offensive, pornographic or of generally low quality. For times like these, you’ll start seeing a new option to block particular domains from your future search results. Now when you click a result and then return to Google, you’ll find a new link next to “Cached” that reads “Block all results.”

Read between the lines and this option could really impact content farms as people who are a little more discerning can eliminate seeing these results completely. With this option if you really don’t like content farm content you can block and Presto! No more craptent. You can then follow that up with all of Demand Media properties like, and more. Imagine the fun.

As for site owner’s ability to truly understanding who sees their sites in search, this could create issues if there is widespread use of the option. That’s just another obstacle for SEO’s to talk around but that is well developed skill already in the search industry.

Of course, not all decisions are permanent as you can go back and manage which sites you have blocked. You will also be told whether results that you blocked would have shown up in the results.

So Google continues to indirectly admit that quality is better left in the hands of the searcher on many levels. The subjective nature of what quality content is obviously escapes the bounds of an ‘algorithm only approach’ when cleansing search results of junk. I suspect Google wouldn’t say this but they are in a bit of a fix when it comes deciding what a true good search result is so they are pushing more of that responsibility to the end user.

What’s your take on how this might impact an SEO’s job? Will people actually block an entire domain from search results or is that too much? Can Google’s algorithm really help make quality decisions for each individual? What’s your take on these efforts to clean up the SERPs?

  • Of course this button cannot be used to eject just content farms, but any site a person finds objectionable, or doesn’t support their personal views, or is rendered in a particular color that they find distasteful.

    Creationists need no longer worry about the National Science Foundation cluttering up their results: gone! Democrats will never have to wade through the filt of Fox News, just as Republicans can ensure that a unsavory MSNBC result won’t ruin their breakfast: gone and gone!

    All of this, of course, to point out that such site-blocking mechanisms may have their genesis in the frenzied desire of the search engines to show that they’re concerned about quality, but that once such mechanisms are put in place the actual purposes for which they are used may have nothing to filtering out spam or poor quality content.

    But I don’t have to block any sites, right? Right, but many people who share the digital world with me are sure to do so, and their world view will certainly shrink as they further and further limit their exposure to information. And this is a site blocker, not a page blocker; upon encountering one article, one post, one song, one picture one doesn’t like, a searcher can in one fell swoop censure hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands of resources that they’ll now be unable to discover through their modified Google – even those that would have found useful. And those, with which they may have disagreed, that would have provoked thought.

    As well, Google claims that they wont – at least initially – use these data to change how they rank websites. I have little confidence that this will persist. And if that happens, then even lil ole non-site blocking me will start to be impacted by decisions of Google’s users that have nothing to do with shallowness of instructions on eHow.

    I’m not particularly surprised by Google’s move: as a corporate entity they’re trying to maintain and build market share, and – as we all know well from the world of adverting – appealing to the broadest mass of consumers rarely entails an appeal to the benefits of dissonant opinions. But framing such knee-jerk reactions as a methodology to improve the “quality” of information searchers are exposed to depresses me a bit.

    • Pretty impressive comment, SEOSkeptic. You are a smart cookie.

      And so is the Marketing Pilgrim, for using that catchy title. I was in the middle of writing a blog post on WordPress. The phrase “Google adds eject button for content farms” caught my eye in the Zemanta auto-suggestions. I dropped everything and came running on over to have a look. And I was not disappointed.

  • Horrible.

  • Yahoo! Answer which (has lots of spam links) is one to add.

  • This may be just the beginning. Presumably, Google could aggregate the rejection rates of sites, and lower the search scores of those that are frequently rejected so they appear less often in all searches. That step would have great potential to clean up search results, but it could also be subject to sabotage.

  • So when google starts taking into account people blocking a certain site, this is how we take out competitor sites?

    Scary thought don’t you think?