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3/10/2011
04:48 PM
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Google Enables Search Result Kill Switch

Web spammers, beware. Google users can now filter unwanted domains in search results lists.

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Google says its mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. But having recently acknowledged that much of the world's information is useless or worse, Google is now providing Internet users with the means to bury the world's information.

Capping months of search quality adjustments designed to penalize content farms and those who violate Google's search rules, Google on Thursday said that it will provide a way for users to hide unwanted search results.

"You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve clicked a result and it wasn’t quite what you were looking for," explain Google engineers Amay Champaneria and Beverly Yang in a blog post. "Many times you’ll head right back to Google. 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."

Google has promoted various methods of search personalization over the years, through services like Search Wiki and location settings, but last month it introduced a Chrome extension called Personal Blocklist, a tool that falls somewhere between personalization and personal protection against junk content.

With over 120,000 users already, Personal Blocklist appears to have been well received.

The new search result blocking will be available as a link that accompanies each search result listed. Selecting the block link will prompt the user to confirm his or her choice. Thereafter, the blocked domain will no longer appear in future searches.

"This feature is quite similar to the functionality we introduced with the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, but for all Google users," a Google spokesperson said via e-mail. "We were thrilled by the feedback we got about the extension, so we are pleased to bring this functionality to everyone who uses Google."

When users search using keywords that return blocked domains, they will be notified that some of their results have been blocked and presented with the option to show blocked results and to manage their list of blocked sites.

Site blocking requires a Google Account. If site blocking tempts more users to use Google while signed in, it will increase the volume of useful analytics data through which Google can improve its services. Google says that while it's not currently using site block data to influence page rankings, it does plan to look at whether the data may be useful for improving search result relevancy in the future.

Initially, site blocking will be made available to those using Google.com in English with Chrome 9+, Internet Explorer 8+ or Firefox 3.5+. Google plans to expand availability to other regions at a later date.

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