SEO Monday – Google's Blocked Sites Controversy



Earlier this week, Google rolled out the capability to block sites from search results to users all over the world. The US gained this capability back in March. From a blog post on the 13th, Google said that “Sometimes you’ll click on a result, find that it’s not what you wanted, and head right back to the search results page. It could be that the result wasn’t quite right for your query, but other times you may be generally dissatisfied with a particular site appearing in your search results.”

So, once you’ve completed a search, clicked on a site, and click back to the search results, you’ll see an option to “block all results”. I did a search for “table cloths” and clicked on a result to test it out. Once I clicked back to the search results, an option appeared in the search results to click to manage sites, or you can access the same information in your Google account. There is a dashboard in “Search Settings” to manage your blocked sites. You have the ability to unblock the site or manually block a site along with the reason for blocking.

The controversial piece is that Google is integrating blocked site data into the ranking algorithm – this “user feedback signal” was introduced back in April 2011, where in some “high confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms” ( )

Reading user responses to this change seemed to have a theme of concern that incorporating this data into search ranking algorithms would lead to manipulation or unfair judgment.

Google user N.Zero had a compelling point of view, “How will this effect sites with good information that simply aren’t popular (for political, philosophical, or aesthetic reason)? I could imagine some credible sites getting hammered by the masses even though the site is offering quality information” .

What are your thoughts about user feedback signals being incorporated into search results? Do you think blocked website data is a good indication as to whether or not the site contains good, relevant content? Do you think that this capability opens the risk of “gaming the system”? Post your comments on our Facebook wall!