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Google Lets Evil People Block Your Domain

Yeah, I thought that title would grab you.  Google announced a new extension to its Chrome browser, an extension that could truly rock the SEO World.  The extension does two things:

  1. It enables searchers to block domains from search results.
  2. It tells Google what domains have just been blocked.

chromeSays Google anti-spam spokesman Matt Cutts, ” If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”

This blog post will tell you exactly how to preserve and enhance your search engine rankings in a world where users can send explicit feedback (this Chrome extension is neither the first tool for explicit feedback, nor will it be the last; but it might just be the most powerful, so far).

I should make it clear that I was always a big believer is both explicit and implicit user feedback.  The search engines would be fools not to pay attention to which sites please their visitors when serving up sites to new searchers.

It was just over two years ago that I released Sticky SEO, essentially detailing how you can keep more visitors longer on your website, going deeper into the site.  For the most part, this means pleasing more visitors even more than you already do, since that is what Google looks for.

So what do you do with this Chrome extension?  Well, you want to please your visitors so that they don’t swear, curse and block your domain.

PROBLEM # 1: FREE LOADERS

Searching for free tattoos?  Probably not.
Searching for free tattoos?
Probably not.

There are a lot of people searching for free stuff on the Internet.  You don’t give your stuff away free, but the “free loaders” show up at your website.  “What?  They want a million bucks to dig a hole to China?  I want someone to do it for free.  Bloody rip-off scammers.  Block, block, block.”

There are probably not too many people searching for “dig a hole to China” and expecting free service.  Nor are there many people expecting to get new shoes for free.  Nor gourmet coffee or gift baskets.  Nor metal buildings or intercontinental pipeline installation.  Not even free tattoos or body piercing. But there many niches that include freebie searchers,  for example…

  • website templates
  • resume help
  • music downloads
  • ringtones
  • online games
  • learn Spanish

How do you make sure that people searching for freebies don’t block your website when they discover that you are one of those evil profit-seeking cannibals who wants to feed your family?  You give them what they want, of course.  You add something free to your site.  You give them a free option, or you link to a free option.  Somehow, you make sure you please them.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Well, she should have said that.

PROBLEM # 2: GENERALISTS

Let’s say you sell a very specific item or service that is part of a bigger niche, but people don’t search all that specifically.  In Sticky SEO, on page 14 (until I eventually get around to updating it), I tell the tale of a client who wanted to revamp its website back in 2006.  They sold commercial fitness equipment, but their clients would search just for “fitness equipment”.  The problem was that ten times as many people looking for home gyms also searched for “fitness equipment”.

Life would be easy if people searched for “home fitness equipment”  or “commercial fitness equipment”, but life wasn’t meant to be easy.  What would they do about all this traffic from generalist searchers?

Please them, of course.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Like I said, she should have said that…especially if she knew Google was going to give all those people an easy way to block your domain and tell Google your site sucks.

How to please those generalists?  No point in reprinting page 14 here.  You can read it for yourself.  (Hey, it’s a free download.  Did you think this was a sneaky sales pitch or something?)

Your evil competition wants to eat you.

Evil competitors want Google to eat you.

PROBLEM # 3: EVILDOERS

Yes, the world is an evil place if you look at it right.  Google’s motto is “Do no evil” (or something like that.  But they never said anything about not arming your competition to do evil, did they?  How much do you want to bet that across the Internet’s freelancer markets there will be an SEO arms trade: “100 domain blocks for $15 – from separate IPs in over 20 countries”?  Maybe for $25, who knows?

So how do you deal with that?  No inbound link is supposed to hurt your rankings, so that your competition can’t spam you out of the search results.  But what if a coordinated group of offshore outsourcing in China and India and Greenland gang up on you?

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you on this one.  But I am sure Matt Cutts will be asked about it sooner or later, and maybe he will have an answer.  Hopefully.

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13 Responses to “Google Lets Evil People Block Your Domain”

  1. paul novak (1 comments) Says:

    Wonderful. I am really beginning to believe Google is on its way out. You simply cannot throw out such a proactive ability to affect someone elses rankings like this and not expect it to be abused to high heaven. Remember how people used to bury others rankings and take over their keywords with link schemes? This will be worse. Whats to stop competitors from paying to have their top competition slashed at the knees?

  2. J. Lavooij (1 comments) Says:

    Paul, I agree with you to a certain point, but I do understand Google. The Net has become a junkyard in some niches. The amount of non-information to sell you the latest scheme is mind-boggling. But yes, they will have to solve the problem of fraud with this system. However, I think they will come up with something. At least they have a few billion dollars to burn to make this happen. I think in the end it might have a positive effect and it fits the strategy of Google to supply us with valuable answers from the search engines.

  3. Dave Lauretti (1 comments) Says:

    Ya you sure got me with that tricky title ;p

    Anyways, to address the subject: I’ll try to put this situation to light.

    Yes there are thousands, maybe even millions of true spam sites out there – sites that trick users once they’ve clicked on a link in the search results (cloaking matters) and sites that, once a user arrives at, is full of nothing but ads (but even all ad sites aren’t spam sites by definition) sure they exist.

    Now, how will the ‘statistics’ be tallied by Google? Think about it. Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that Google is going to let 15, even 20, let’s say 30 – no, let’s say 300 ‘blocks’ is going to affect a person’s rankings in the search results? Really really think about it. The accumulation of blocks would have to be substantial and on top of that would have to go through several filters in order to be determined as a legitimate BLOCK verses a block by a competitor (who would be using it deceitfully).

    Google isn’t stupid, they employ computer scientists who are much more intelligent than you and I. They test and know what they’re doing.

    And Paul, Google isn’t on it’s way out – when BING reaches 50% of Google’s share in the search market, they still won’t be on their way out…85%? OK then we’ll talk.

  4. pcd2k (1 comments) Says:

    Is this an example of what your talking about ?
    http://www.kynetx.com/personalblock/

  5. Derek Jansen (2 comments) Says:

    Chrome’s blocking feature is a controversial point of conversation. The question remains how many people will actually use it. And more importantly, how many people who actually form part of your target market.

  6. Peter Write (2 comments) Says:

    I am sure that google being the search engine that it is will figure it out and solve the problem.

  7. pinkbanana (1 comments) Says:

    Hey I guess it could be good for some and bad for others… you can’t please everyone ( mother’s should tell us that) In someways having this tool is cool since you have the power in who goes in your computer you can just block sites that you don’t want and those sites usually lead people on with their great titles or ya having great keywords but really have nothing to do with the article you are looking for. So sometimes it can be very frustrating to get those sites, especially when you try to close it and another box keeps popping up…grrrr…

  8. Sam Stein (1 comments) Says:

    Great article – loved those bananas, too.

  9. John (15 comments) Says:

    great article..In someways having this tool is cool since you have the power in who goes in your computer you can just block sites that you don’t want and those sites usually lead people on with their great titles or ya having great keywords but really have nothing to do with the article you are looking for.

  10. Rob Qype (1 comments) Says:

    Unless there are some control mechanisms then this will make it very easy for people to lock down their competitors websites.

  11. Roezer (2 comments) Says:

    They had this feature before there was an X beside the search result. I think it’s a great extension and you need to be singed into search in order for it to work. The extension works on your personal search preferences and should not be confused with the Anti Spam Reporting extension for Google Chrome.

  12. Mike @SEO Toronto (1 comments) Says:

    Thank gawd Chrome only has single digit percentage of market share.
    If this extension becomes available on FireFox (or built into the google toolbar)
    We are all in a lot of trouble; and the server feeding this site will probably crash from all the traffic ^.^

  13. RH79 (1 comments) Says:

    Very interesting thing to know, and probably the way things will continue to go in the future (user feedback). But, would’nt that be misused by competitors also, to send loads of misleading feedback. Of cause this will not be a problem as long the validity is checked by Google staff, but at some point one could fear that these feedback are not checked carefully enough.

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