There is definitely a search engine war going on and Google is making changes that are giving their users more control over how they surf the web. One of the main focuses of Google at the moment is to raise the bar on the quality of sites it shows to users. Recently they unleashed the Farmers Algorithm (which we wrote about a couple of weeks ago), but Google now has gone even further giving its users the power to block sites they don’t want to see. What are the ramifications of this new resource and how does it affect SEO/SEM professionals?
Block Sites You Don’t Want to See
Google has long realized that there are sites that show up in the rankings that some individuals may not want to see. Whether they are spammy sites, sites that are offensive, sites that are from sources that are not reputable or sites that can be categorized as content farms, there have been times when each of us probably wished there was a block button to remove these sites from Google’s results- at least from our results.
How it Works?
Google has made it now easy to block results. Simply make sure that you signed into your Google account and conduct a search. Google uses the sample search of their blogger Matt Cutts. Below you see an image of the search for Matt Cutts.
In order to block a search, you first must visit the site- you just can’t go down the list and click block every site. So once you visit a site, and return to Google’s search page (by pressing the back button on your browser) you will see next to “Cached” “Block all mattcutts.com results”. Simply click on this tag and you will see a confirmation from Google that you blocked the results.
It should be noted that even though you have blocked a certain domain, you can still go into your Google account and manage your blocked sites. So you can unblock them with relative ease. In addition, in the future if you do a search for the same term “Matt Cutts”, Google will inform you in their search results that some sites were blocked by your request and if you would like to see all results, you can unblock the site in question. You can view an image of this message below.
How Does this Affect SEO/SEM Professionals?
For the vast majority of sites that have relatively quality content this option will not affect a business in a big way. It is possible that over the course of a year a handful of people will block your site, however if there is no strong reason (spam, obscene materials, etc) the chances are Google will view these blocks as a user’s personal preference and not necessarily due to content or wrongful placement in the listings on Google’s part.
However, if the blocking of a site is more than usual (according to Google and whatever that metric may be), you can bet that Google will visually review that site and figure out if there is a problem with it and whether or not it should be coming up in the listings for a particular search term.
Another thought I have about this option is that many web developers might be concerned that their competitors will go out of their way to block your site. I think once again Google has realized that this is a very realistic possibility, so from what I have read, before Google does anything drastic, it will most surely review your site to ensure it is not being gamed by the system set up. So all in all, the ability to block sites on Google makes some users’ environment more customized, but this option is a feature that should bear very little impact, if any on the wide range of white hat SEO sites promoting quality content, products and services.
You can find more information regarding this feature at: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/hide-sites-to-find-more-of-what-you.html