Quality of search results is of paramount importance to Google
Big G works hard to keep those results clean and minty-fresh. But it's a two-way battle: content farms and spammers of various pedigrees do their darndest to grab top spots for popular searches, the better to convert the aimless and the curious into revenue-generating clicks.
So why not enlist some outside help -- from us end-users?
That's exactly what Google has done: As of last week, you can block unwanted sites from appearing in your Google results ever again.
It's a simple enough procedure: Run a search, click on a result, and check it out. If you decide that you don't want results from that resource anymore, you'd go back to the results list and click on "Block all pleasegoaway.com results," and that's that. At the bottom of the results page, you'll then occasionally see something like "You blocked 2 results" from filtered sites, with the option to see those bad eggs anyway, or even go in and manage your list of blocked sites.
The function is complementary to Google Stars, which elevates sites you really like to the top of your search results as appropriate. Together, these two tools replace the old and discontinued SearchWiki tool, which never quite caught on. The new two-tool set seems more intuitive to use, and may become the tightening toolkit we needed all along.
This sure sounds simpler than having Google's crack engineering teams figure out some algorithm to filter out content farms and the like. In particular, content owners can hardly complain and file lawsuits when the dodge is done by the consumer. Shares of content farm operator Demand Media
Google says it won't use this data to change result rankings in the short term. This could become another battleground of sorts, as any system can be gamed by paying for star clicks, for example. But if Google can separate honest ratings from paid upheaval efforts, the company would be stupid not to mine that treasure trove of real user input.
And then the copycats will follow: Microsoft
Did Google just juice its click traffic by making its users happier? Tune in to the next earnings report to know for sure, and add Google to your watchlist so you don't miss the news as it comes in.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He has blocked Demand Media from his own Google searches, for what it's worth, and feels cleaner already. Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.