Blocking Content from SERPs

Yesterday we noticed that Google has been playing around with a nasty little idea, giving the power to the user to block a site directly from the search engine result pages. This apparently goes for both organic and paid results as well[1], it’s nothing official and just one of the tests they do once in a while, like we had with endless scrolling a few months back, again, it got to our attention.

block all serp results

This is where the fun begins, what this could mean for SEO and SEOs all over the world. Well, there are plenty of potential results, so let’s tackle one at a time. So you are searching for a certain keyword, open a site from the first page of results and after sometime you bounce back since you didn’t like what you saw, and all of sudden you find a “block all results” under the website… What do you do?

Do you block the site because of one page you didn’t like or do you ignore the button? First off let me say that I hope Google is just testing this and not yet implementing the results of the blocking to influence rankings. Are you Google? In theory if one person blocked a site or 5 that shouldn’t matter much, especially if it is based on one visit, but what happens when 500 people block a website, does it go down the serps? Maybe this will only influence our personalised results and nothing more.

Well I hoped that was the case until I saw this[2]:

manage blocked sites

You can actually manage the sites you blocked, which means you can undo them as well. But what bugged me was the part “Google may use everyone’s blocking information to improve the ranking of search results overall.” I hope they are just playing with the idea and will not run this before doing serious testing, which they most likely will. It just makes me wonder about the human factor in this or the dirty SEO in every one of us, will I block the sites of the competition, will they block our sites. How do we know that someone won’t post a hit list of websites to block to some spammy forums, or pay for that service? I mean people are paying for likes and +1s, why wouldn’t they pay to have a competitor out of the serp, it makes even more sense.

What this could mean in the long run is of course a thing to be seen, but it’s just an idea I am not comfortable playing with and I think Google shouldn’t be messing around with this either, at least not about influencing rankings. If it’s on a personalized level then fine, it’s a users choice, but if me blocking the site along a few other people is going to change the results for everyone, well, it’s a two way street and I can see plenty of good sites going down because of a big oversight and some dirty tricks.

Also, this may have a huge impact on the paid results as well. Some webmaster may find it unfair to pay for ads and then Google giving the users the right to block their ads. On the other hand some may realise that this can be a good thing. Why waste impressions on wrong targets. The people who block your ads are definitely not interested in the products or services, so this may be a good thing for paid results, who knows.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this and possible implications of the new feature Google might offer to its users, so feel free to share them with us in the comments section.

Edit: Ok, like Alistair said in the comments (thanks for the heads up) this is live for a while now, here is the official Google announcement[3]. The link was given to me by John Mueller from Google Switzerland. The functionality of this is still questionable as many SEOs reported they can’t see the block link option, I’ve tested this with over 30 queries and managed to see it just once, even though I bounced back right away.

As you can see in the post they were testing the block data for rankings, and apparently they implemented this[4], how this escaped the majority of SEOs, including me, is well, a bit embarrassing and confusing.


1. SEOmoz album on Google+ –

2. Manage Blocked Sites –

3. Hide sites to find more of what you want –

4. High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback –

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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7 thoughts on “Blocking Content from SERPs

  1. Wow….It could be a great signal for Google to identify usefulness of a site to users. Google is really working hard to show quality results to their users and this will help them….

  2. Zac,

    I don’t think it is a test, that blocking functionality was first rolled out as a Google Chrome extension and then appeared in the search result directly later.

    In an interview between Danny Sullivan & Matt Cutts at SMX Seattle this year, Matt confirmed that having a high number of blocks will affect your ranking. I doubt you can just buy 500 blocks and have an impact, as Google more than like take into account your past behavior as a trust factor.


  3. This was announced on the official Google Blog on March 10 2011:

  4. It wouldn’t be surprising if Google was using a whole range of usage statistics collected from Chrome browsers to in some way shape ranking. This is just another form of social. Though it would be concerning if ranking could in some way be negatively influenced.  

  5. It’s a surprising news for users, google is playing around with giving users the privilege to block a site from the serps

  6. There is a nasty aspect to this new feature. Assume that i have friends across different geographies and can get about 200 of them to block some particular site, presumably my competitors. If that is to affect the SERPs, then my competitors too would be interested in knocking me off by getting, say 500 people, to knock me off. This will lead to witch-hunting and instead of focusing on creative and positive energies for doing the SEO, the focus will be on saving oneself (which will not be possible) and inflicting maximum damage to the competitors (depending on your networking strength). 

    So, definitely NOT a good idea if this is to affect SERPs. Now, let us look at the other side of it. Considering that there are many SEO companies around the world which can make even the insignificant websites to rank higher (we all know that this is possible), the genuine user is left aghast if he does not find the right site for the first few SERPs. Then, there would certainly be some site which he or she would never like to see again in SERPs and that space can be utilized by the other ones. So, Google gives the handle to the users to determine which sites are unnecessarily occupying the SERPs space for him and block them. 

    So, the conclusion is that if this feature is to be retained, it shall not be allowed to affect the SERPs.