Matt Cutts is credited with the creation of Personal Blocklist, which is currently available only for users of Google’s Chrome web browser. The extension is rather cut-and-dried in its form, except it comes with a bit of a twist. In addition to allowing users to block certain sites from appearing in their search results, actions performed by users will be sent to Google. For instance, if you block a site, that action will be relayed to Google. Google will then keep tabs on the site. If a certain pattern emerges that shows frequent blocking of the domain, Google could lower its search ranking.
Google claims that Personal Blocklist is an experimental extension that was created to give users a way to supply feedback on sites. Google has been trying to weed out content farms, which are sites that offer a plethora of content that is deemed to be of low quality. Some examples of content farms are eHow from Demand Media and Yahoo’s Associated Content. Both sites churn out a high quantity of articles that are usually written in exchange for a small fee. Google takes pride in the quality of its search engine and is trying to limit the presence of content farms within its search results. The use of the Personal Blocklist extension is a way to do so without banning the sites altogether.
As stated, Personal Blocklist operates in a straightforward manner. Once installed in Chrome, you can search as you normally would. Within each search result will be a link that allows you to block the domain. For instance, a result from eHow.com would have a small link stating “Block ehow.com.” Clicking on the link puts the domain on a blacklist and causes it to disappear from the results. Any future searches will not contain results from the blocked domain. The domain can be unblocked or edited if you wish to see it in the results once again. It will also show up in search results if you perform a search using a different browser.
Once the extension is enabled and sites are blocked, future search results will also have a message at the bottom of each page stating that some results were removed by the extension. There is an option to view the omitted results by clicking show.
Personal Blocklist definitely gives users some extra control over their searches, but one has to wonder about possible abuses with the extension. This depends on how much weight Google puts into the feedback received from its users. If the extension becomes an integral part of Google’s search algorithm, it could cause an all-out war between competing sites.
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