If you're tired of getting crappy Google search results filled with sites that offer content with little or no value, you can do something about it. A new Google Chrome browser extension called Personal Blocklist can stop those sites from appearing in your results and you'll be helping Google out at the same. The extension, created by Google's Web Spam fighter Matt Cutts, allows you to create personal blacklists of specific sites that you don't want to see in your search results.
Your blacklists will also be sent to Google, where the search giant will consider using the data to adjust its search algorithm and rank the offending sites lower. It's not clear what privacy protections are put in place with data sent to Google through Personal Blocklist.
Let Your Clicks Be Heard
To get started, install Personal Blocklist in Chrome here. Then just start searching as you normally would. At the bottom of each search result will be a small link that says "Block crappysite.com." Any sites you blacklist will immediately disappear from your search results page. The sites will also never appear in your results again unless you remove them from your list or are using another browser without the extension installed. Keep in mind that you cannot blacklist individual Web pages with Personal Blocklist. You can only wipe out domains (google.com) or subdomains (crappysearch.google.com). Personal Blocklist will not let you adjust your banned sites list to edit out subdirectories such as 'Google.com/images.'
You can, however, exercise some control over your blacklist. Say, for example, you generally like results from About.com, but you don't want the site's video content at 'videos.about.com' to keep popping up in your search results. To stop that from happening, click on the Personal Blocklist icon (a red circle with a white hand) and then click on 'Edit' next to the About.com domain or subdomain you originally blocked. A text edit field will open that allows you to change the subdomain to something else such as from 'baking.about.com' to 'videos.about.com.' You can also remove the subdomain field to block the entire site from your searches.
If you ever want to see the sites that Google blocked from your results you can click on the "show" link at the bottom of your first page of search results.
It's not clear how much weight Google will be giving to the data it collects from Personal Blocklist. The search giant only says it will "explore using [the data] as a potential ranking signal for our search results."
That being said, you have to wonder how foolproof this site-blocking method will be. Many website owners have already proven to be adept at gaming Google's search results through the use of so-called black hat SEO (search engine optimization) and other sneaky techniques. So what's to stop a content farm from employing hordes of Web searchers to install the extension and go out into the Web blacklisting the competition?
It's not the most practical solution since you can only add sites by clicking a link in your Google search results as opposed to just adding a bunch of sites directly to your blacklist. Nevertheless, I wouldn't put it past some of the more unscrupulous (and well funded) content farms on the Web.
For the average user, however, Personal Blocklist is a boon for blocking sites you don't want to see. But Personal Blocklist may not be meant for everyone. In his blog post announcing the extension, Cutts specifically asked for "tech-savvy" Chrome users to download the extension.
Personal Blocklist is available only on the Chrome browser. Firefox users can try an add-on that claims to have similar functionality called OptimizeGoogle; however, the Firefox extension has no connection to Google or its content-blocking experiment.