I recently came across a couple of articles on WebProNews and Search Engine Roundtable that both reported onGoogle’s new found inability (or unwillingness?) to continue blocking sites that users specify they don’t want displayed in their search results.
According to a Google employee in a recent official product forum thread, this was a “known issue a while back.” My, what a vague response… vague enough to lead one to believe that Google doesn’t care too much about blocking sites from the SERPs for users.
Funny – we’re talking about the same company that has been rolling out waves of aggressive algo changes for the sake of bettering the “user experience” for searchers. So, um… why does this not appear to add up? Seems to me a company so obsessed with pleasing the user would snap to and fix this problem as soon as people began asking questions.
Maybe more is at play here than meets the eye.
The Hard Evidence
Over at Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz tried the blocking feature himself and included screenshots of his findings in his write-up. Schwartz tried blocking the website”proflowers.com” two different ways. First, he attempted to use the “block site” feature directly in the search results, but he noticed it was nowhere to be found. He then went into his search settings and manually blocked the site. After waiting a couple of minutes, he searched again.
It was still there.
The site appeared in the ad unit atop the organic results, so I wondered whether its “sponsored listing” status was the reason the blocked site still appeared. I decided to try it myself using (what *I* consider to be) the most annoying website on the planet: eHow.com.
First, I navigated to my personal Google search settings and manually blocked the site:
Notice I blocked the site using both the www and non-www version of the URL to head off any potential confusion. Then, I waited a few minutes. When I searched for “how to make ceramic pendants”,this was the second result:
Confirmed. It really doesn’t work. Try it for yourself.
The Circumstantial Stuff
There’s massive speculation that Google’s been pretty cozy withDemand Media for quite a long time now. After Ehow’s initial slap when Google’s Panda algo rolled out, it inexplicably bounced back in the SERPs – with a vengeance. For that matter,many other content farms are beginning to resurface in the search results more frequently as well. Are we to believe that these websites have removed all of their low-quality content and started from scratch?
Or… is there more to this story?
Forbes, Reuters, and many other reputable news sources have written glowingly about DemandMedia’s miraculous resurgence these past few months. As far asrecord profits go, Demand claims it has reestablished earnings by diversifying its revenue model. However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Demand’s “meh”-worthy Ehow content is also showing back up at the top of the SERPs.
But let’s flash back to 2011. In April, the Panda update slapped Ehow from search results right alongside other content farms.Then, in August, Google renewed its standing advertising agreement with Demand Media – good for the next three years.Demand Media is big business – the company boasts ownership of Cracked.com, Ehow, and various social media websites. Google’s renewed deal with the company was much sweeter than the originalagreement had been. Here’s some details on the perks of the new deal, as reported last year by ZDNet:
Of course, Google could not in good faith save Ehow from the initial wrath of Panda and leave other content farms to plummet into search engine oblivion simply because it had a big contract with the company. However, it is rather curious that one year later, we’re once again seeing Ehow articles on the first page of search results for countless keyword phrases.
Full disclosure: I was an author for Ehow a couple of years back, before the site was slapped by the algo changes. Soon after the initial blow, Demand closed down the article claiming platform for all Ehow authors, stopped producing content for its Ehow library, and began weeding out and destroying low-quality articles from its database. However, a great many articles remained – even those that would be considered nothing more than”halfway decent” writing. They simply trimmed the fat by skimming the worst of the worst from their collection. To this day, mediocre articles remain right alongside the good stuff.
Use Your Own Judgment
The opinions in this article are purely speculation, so take the information herein with a big grain of salt. Suggesting that Google somehow restored Ehow’s standing due to backroom deals would be akin to insider trading… or would it?
This is uncharted territory, and the rules of the Internet arebeing written in real-time. Things that seem unfair may be happening right under our noses, and until we set precedents and define the legality of certain situations (as we’ve seen the FTC attempt to do multiple times this year), the search landscape is a virtual free-for-all.
Why do you think Google’s no longer blocking websites from itssearch results? Do you think it’s a glitch, or is there more atplay here? Give us your take in the comments below!
Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.
Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources
Google Not Blocking Sites – Deliberate or Oversight?