Sunday 25 February 2018

Google Search: block websites you hate

Update to Google Search now lets logged-in users block sites they don’t like

Google now lets users block specific websites from their search results
Google now lets users block specific websites from their search results

Matt Warman

Google Search results can now be tailored to an individual user’s preferences. The website has introduced the option to block sites from future results, and thereby shape future ones.

Writing on the Google Blog, Search Quality Engineers Amay Champaneria and Beverly Yang wrote that “You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve clicked a result and it wasn’t quite what you were looking for.

"Perhaps the result just wasn’t quite right, but sometimes you may dislike the site in general, whether it’s offensive, pornographic or of generally low quality. For times like these, you’ll start seeing a new option to block particular domains from your future search results.

"Now when you click a result and then return to Google, you’ll find a new link next to “Cached” that reads “Block all results.”

Although all users will see the new link, only those who are singed in will be able to confirm that they want to block a site.

Once a domain has been blocked, it won’t appear in future results. Users will, however, be notified if search results would have contained results that their preferences now mean they have blocked. The list of blacklisted sites can also be managed on a new settings page.

Champaneria and Yang said that data about sites getting blocked will not be used to inform more general search results for other users.

They also write, however, that “while we’re not currently using the domains people block as a signal in ranking, we’ll look at the data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future.”

Such data would, it is likely, allow Google to step up its fight against spam and so-called “content farms”, which chase web traffic simply by writing about subjects that are popular search terms.

The trend for more personalised search results is also being reflected in other applications: an add-on for Google's Chrome browser, for instance, allows users to blacklist celebrities from their results.

'Silence of the Celebs' works with four sites currently, including the New York Times, and the developers behind it are also working on ways of removing headlines from news sites.

The new feature is rolling out initially on in English for people using Chrome 9+, IE8+ and Firefox 3.5+. The firm said it will be available in new regions, languages and browsers soon.

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