Google Search has introduced a new feature that allows users to have a greater level of control over search results by blocking unhelpful or offensive domains from being returned in search results.
The option works on a domain-level basis — meaning that no individual results will be returned by blocked domains — and is currently only active on Google.com, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.
"You've probably had the experience where you've clicked a result and it wasn't quite what you were looking for... Perhaps the result just wasn't quite right, but sometimes you may dislike the site in general, whether it's offensive, pornographic or of generally low quality," Amay Champaneria and Beverly Yang, search quality engineers at Google said.
"For times like these, you'll start seeing a new option to block particular domains from your future search results."
Sites can be easily blocked using the 'Block all exampledomain.com results' button located next to the usual 'Cached' and 'Similar' links normally returned next to Google search results.
Once blocked, subsequent searches that return results from blocked sites trigger a notification at the top or bottom of the search page informing the user that there are blocked pages and offering the option to view the blocked results, or permanently unblock a site, using the 'Manage blocked sites' link.
Blocked sites are linked to a user's Google account, meaning that the lists are persistent whenever and wherever a user signs in.
While Google won't currently be using the list of sites that people block to determine ranking, the company hasn't ruled it out for the future.
"We'll look at the [blocking] data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future," Google said.
Currently, the feature will only work on Google.com for English searches and supports Chrome 9 and higher, IE8 and higher and Firefox 3.5 or higher. Google said that it plans to roll out the feature to other languages, regions and browsers in the future.
In February, Google updated its social features in search so that results from friends on social networks such as Twitter are displayed more prominently.
The company also introduced an algorithm change in February designed to help fight content farming and generally reduce the search ranking of "low-value" websites with little or no original content. The company noted at the time that it could affect the ranking of "many websites".
"We can't make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down... It is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded," the company said.