Google adds site-blocking option to search

Wish you could keep certain sites from showing up in Google search results? Thanks to a new feature being rolled out, you can

Ever wish you could keep certain sites from showing up in your Google search results? Thanks to a new feature being rolled out right now, you can.

Google announced the debut of a site-blocking search tool via its official company blog on Thursday. The tool is simple to use: When you click on a site in a Google search and then go back to Google -- presumably because you weren't satisfied with what you found -- you'll see a new option on the results page to block the site from future searches. All you have to do is click it, and the site will never show up for you again.

Your search site-blocking preferences are saved in your Google account, so you'll have to be logged in for the feature to work.

And don't worry: Your search-blocking changes aren't set in stone. Anytime a site is omitted from a search because of your blocking, Google will display a small message letting you know something's been removed. You'll have an option to unmask the hidden results, if you're so inclined. You can also manage your virtual blacklist via your Google search settings.

The Google search-blocking feature will become available to everyone over the next few days. As of now, it'll function only in English and only for users on Chrome 9 or higher, Internet Explorer 8 or higher, and Firefox 3.5 or higher.

Google Search Filtering: The Bigger Picture

If this whole thing has you feeling a sense of déjà vu, don't worry: You aren't losing your mind. Google announced a similar search-filtering feature about a month ago in the form of an extension for the Chrome browser. The extension did almost the same exact thing as this new feature, except for the fact that it worked on the browser-level instead of on Google's own servers.

It's all part of Google's steady efforts to combat the presence of search spam -- a fancy term for low-quality entries that show up in search results. Google has increasingly come under fire for search spam in recent weeks, with some bloggers and pundits saying the company's level of search-result junk is spiraling out of control. The concerns revolve largely around so-called "content farms," or sites that generate lots of pages with little real value. Many of these sites monitor popular search queries and create pages for the sole purpose of attracting traffic, even though they have no original or relevant content to offer.

Google also recently adjusted its search algorithm to try to keep those sites from cluttering up results. The change, announced in late February, is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites and give higher rankings to sites with more original and in-depth material.

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JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
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