Probably the biggest piece of search news today is Google's launch of a domain-blocking feature. We discussed this more here, but essentially, Google has taken the functionality of the Chrome extension it recently released and turned it into part of the search interface. People will now be able to have more control over the quality of the results they see for search queries.
An interesting tidbit out of SMX West - Barry Schwartz reports: "Google and Bing admitted publicly to having 'exception lists' for sites that were hit by algorithms that should not have been hit...Matt Cutts explained that there is no global whitelist but for some algorithms that have a negative impact on a site in Google's search results, Google may make an exception for individual sites."
One would think that this could explain Cult of Mac regaining its rankings after being hit by the Panda update, but Google recently said; "This is an algorithmic change and it doesn't have any manual exceptions applied to it..."
Google Operating System reports that Google is testing a feature that shows word counts next to certain search results. Such a feature would complement the search engine's current instant previews feature, which lets users get an idea of what they're getting ready to click through to. Instant Previews, by the way, were launched for mobile this week.
Google added click-to-call technology for emergency-related mobile search results, which applies to things like poison control, suicide hotlines, and common emergency numbers.
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, has announced an active agenda for the new session of Congress. The section on Competition in Online Markets/Internet Search Issues says:
Access to the wealth of information and e-commerce on the Internet is essential for consumers and business alike. As the Internet continues to grow in importance to the national economy, businesses and consumers, the Subcommittee will strive to ensure that this sector remains competitive, that Internet search is fair to its users and customers, advertisers have sufficient choices,and that consumers' privacy is guarded. In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses. In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search advertising. We also will continue to closely examine the impact of further acquisitions in this sector.