Google May Let You Blacklist Domains To Fight Spam

delete-buttonReady for do-it-yourself spam fighting? Google has discussed giving searchers the ability to remove domains from its search results. That’s according to Matt Cutts, Google’s top spam fighter, who’s been posting frequently in a Hacker News discussion about Google’s search quality/spam blog post from Friday morning.

In the discussion, Hacker News user “bradly” asks if Google would consider letting searchers remove domains from search results themselves. Cutts replies, “we’ve definitely discussed this,” and seems to hint that some kind of announcement may be on the way:


Can you speak about the possibility for personal domain blacklists for Google accounts? I know giving users the option to remove sites from their own search results is talked about a lot in these HN threads. Is there any talk internally about implementing something like this?

[Matt's reply] We’ve definitely discussed this. Our policy in search quality is not to pre-announce things before they launch. If we offer an experiment along those lines, I’ll be among the first to show up here and let people know about it. :)

Google’s SearchWiki feature previously allowed users to do something similar, but SearchWiki edits were done at the page and keyword level; you could remove individual pages from the search results for certain keywords. Even though Google shut down SearchWiki last March, any results you removed while it was active are still preserved to this day in your Google account.

But the conversation above sounds more comprehensive than what SearchWiki offered. The question — and Cutts’ reply — suggests that users could make domain blacklists that apply across-the-board to any keyword.

The Hacker News thread also includes a couple other possibly newsworthy items, with Cutts saying that Google is working on algorithmic solutions to fight Amazon Web Services clones and Stack Overflow clones.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: General | Google: Personalized Search | Google: SearchWiki | Google: Web Search | SEO: Spamming | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Smaller Box

    No discussion of it here, but curious about how Google will handle the possibility of people trying to get competitors de-listed. What about disgruntled employees or customers? It seems like there’s some risk for abuse here.

  • Andrew N

    While it looks like this focuses on personal blacklists, I could hope they would extend this to corporations to cultivate spam lists for its users using Google Apps, but the real question is would they allow people to “subscribe” to blacklists…

    Common in the SPAM filtering market (the DNSBL being the most relevant, but SURBL and Spamhaus being good examples), of how people could select whose filtering system could better results.

    While I probably wouldn’t advocate direct filtering for others (as Smaller Box mentioned, this could lead to abuse), a result will be if people filter a company enough, they simply won’t be clicked in results, leading to less relevance, falling below the coveted top 10 results.

    This could be “gamed” to some degree (as the Digg Patriots did with Digg), but with the overwhelming quantity of googleers, it would be interesting to see if the same results.

  • Kristine Schachinger

    It depends on what Google does with the data. Since you have to be logged into your Google account to do this my guess is the Google team will use these blacklists to gather data about commonly reported spam sites. If this is the case, then the potential for abuse is VERY HIGH. I can hear my old boss now – all you need to do is hire a team in the Philippines, India, Russia and a few others – disguise their IPS and then let them go… (he was talking about a different situation, but the same thing could work here) the work would be done by real people, in the thousands, over what would look like natural trends.. and for not a lot of cost (we are talking comparatively here)

    So again depends on what Google does with the data, but I can already see the spammers in the highly competitive markets strategizing on how Google might use this data and how they could easily scam it – because anything that uses user input is soooooooooo easy to manipulate – just ask Twitter.

  • PageOneSEO

    Gee, this is a great idea. Did Google buy Blekko?

  • Stacey Cavanagh

    Massive risk for abuse here.

    Rather than letting people just have any old thing they want blacklisted, Google would be as well just making sure they take reports seriously and actually look into them quickly.

    Anything where we let anybody police Google without any type of moderation has major potential consequences.

  • BlahBlah

    I’d like to ban and, but somehow I don’t think Google’s going to allow me to ban their proxies sorry cash cows sorry ‘partners’, do you?

    I’d also like to ban Wikipedia, but since that takes up valuable organic SERPS rankings, that’s not going to happen, either.

    Incidentally, here are the top three urls for for the SERPS for the key phrase ‘ice skating rocker’ … … …

    Wickipedia is in fourth place
    Ehow is in tenth place

    I remember Google when it used to an honest and upright search engine …

  • netsum

    I created an application that uses Google’s CSE to create your own personal blacklist. You might want to check it out.

    There’s a feedback page if you have any ideas on how I could make it better too.

  • Jefferson

    Having Google pre-filter results by domain would be more convenient than self-help solutions. Until then, Firefox + Greasemonkey users can choose from a number of userscripts. For example:

    Google Hit Hider by Domain

    (compatible with Instant Search; Creative Commons licensed)

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