Blocking Spam In Search Engines

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 16, 2011
Updated • May 9, 2012
Google, Google Chrome

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.


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  1. Martin said on February 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm
  2. kalmly said on February 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    However they are using it, you can be sure it is intended to benefit GOOGLE, not you.

  3. Mystique said on February 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I knew I had seen this around somewhere, I referred to a script or extension in the walled garden topic but I was to lazy to follow it up at the time but here is the script I was referring to.

    It looks pretty reasonable and is being actively developed but as I said I try to use alternative search engines now.

    1. Jojo said on February 17, 2011 at 11:17 am

      Nice script. I am going to try that.

    2. Martin said on February 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      Thanks for that, I actually favor userscripts over extensions a lot of times.

      1. Mystique said on February 17, 2011 at 3:31 am

        Yeah I try to resort to userscripts more so than extensions because userscripts simply kick in when required whilst extensions hang around chewing through resources regardless of if it is in use or not. The downsides to userscripts is that no all developers seem to have that same level of commitment than that of extension developers, I attribute this to somewhat disorganised chaotic method of which scripts are archived and delivered.
        Mozilla has a great deal of control over extensions in respect to organisation and delivery, we are notified of all updates to extensions and can simply auto update (however older extensions require a restart unlike userscripts) and there aren’t a great deal of inconsistent, fake or broken extensions available on the site.
        Where the blame really falls upon I don’t really know, is it greasemonkeys fault, is it the fault of the web host of such scripts or is it both of them?

  4. Simon B. said on February 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Ahem. Obviously the personal blocked sites won’t be used wholesale, but perhaps the Search engineers can find a correlation between sites that people block and sites that rise too fast in the FreshBot input (the “quick update” part of Google’s search database). If that can be done, then we’d get rid of “free software” stuff like broderbund (spelling?) and “phishing” sites much more efficiently.
    Or what kind of websites is the article author running that the author is afraid will get blocked? Full disclosure please. (Disclosure: I’m a backend engineer and haven’t done any SEO for ages)

    1. Martin said on February 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Simon I’m not explicitly talking about my websites here. Basically all commercial keywords are a target for this but if it works it will probably be used mostly on high traffic and high cpm keywords. And we do not know if and how Google uses the input. I personally doubt that they are just using the unfiltered user input but who knows..

  5. BalaC said on February 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Martin, i have no idea what made you think this line

    “What’s keeping a company from hiring an army of INDIAN users to block websites of companies that rank before them in Google Search?”

    1. Martin said on February 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Because that’s what many webmasters, SEO’s and companies do. If you are looking for good cheap labor in SEO you predominantly find that in India. The remark was not meant to be negative or judgmental.

  6. ilev said on February 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    The option is not in search results because Bing is stealing Google’s search results and can use this in their own search .

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