Blocking Spam in Search Engines

If you think about it, this is kind of a scary development; especially if you run a website …

You may have read that Google created an extension for its Google Chrome browser exclusively that can be used to block results in Google search from appearing again. The main reason for creating the extension however is not that, even though it is a nice side effect.

You see, every site that gets blocked is submitted to Google. Google engineers will “study the resulting feedback” and “explore using it as a potential ranking signal” for Google Search.

As a webmaster, I see the danger of it, more than I see the benefit. What’s keeping a company from hiring an army of Indian users to block websites of companies that rank before them in Google Search? It won’t be long before the first service offers appear on webmaster forums that offer a service like that: 100 blocks for $10, 1000 for $75. Oh and before you start wondering, the topic is already discussed in popular Black Hat forums.

Anyway, another interesting question is why it is only offered for Google Chrome. Google could very well have added an option to block sites directly into Google Search.

Possible explanations include that Google may receive additional information from the Chrome browser that they would not receive if the blocking would be available directly on the search engine pages, and that it would be available everywhere providing that it would be linked to a Google account. Another that a Google engineer created the blocking extension during free time.

If you look at user comments over at the Chrome store you notice that many have blocked experts-exchange immediately and not “content farms” such as ehow, about, or Demand Media which are pumping out thousands of articles per day.

The extension lacks several features like syncing or the ability to import and export blocklists. Another negative aspect is that the Personal Blocklist extension only removes or blocks entries from the search engine which means that fewer results appear per page.

The extension can be beneficial purely from a user perspective but it is not the first that does it (see Blacklist Google Search Results In Google Chrome). If the blocking is indeed used by Google as a ranking signal then people will start abusing it for their personal gain.

© Martin for gHacks Technology News, 2011. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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