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, 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.
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 www.google.com 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:
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. 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, how this escaped the majority of SEOs, including me, is well, a bit embarrassing and confusing.
1. SEOmoz album on Google+ – https://plus.google.com/photos/112544075040456048636/albums/posts
2. Manage Blocked Sites – http://www.google.com/reviews/t
3. Hide sites to find more of what you want – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/hide-sites-to-find-more-of-what-you.html
4. High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/04/high-quality-sites-algorithm-goes.html