SafeSearch and your website

Many users prefer not to have explicit content shown in their search results. Google's SafeSearch filters provide users with the ability to change their browser setting to help filter explicit content from appearing in their search results. As a website owner, you can help Google understand the nature of your site and content by following the steps in this guide. This will then assist us as we apply SafeSearch filters to your site.

How SafeSearch works

SafeSearch is designed to filter results that lead to visual depictions of:

  • Explicit sexual content of any type, including pornography
  • Nudity
  • Photo-realistic sex toys
  • Sex-oriented dating or escort services
  • Violence or gore
  • Links to pages containing explicit content

For example, SafeSearch is designed to filter out pages that contain images or videos that contain naked breasts or genitals. It also is designed to filter pages with links, pop-ups, or ads that display or point to explicit content.

SafeSearch relies on automated systems that use machine learning and a variety of signals to identify explicit content, including words on the hosting web page and in links.

Determining if SafeSearch is filtering your website

To determine if your page is being identified as explicit, perform a search that brings it up in Google Search. Then turn on SafeSearch. If you don't see your page in the results, it is likely being affected by SafeSearch filtering on this query.

To determine if your entire site is being identified as explicit, use the site: search operator with SafeSearch on. If you don't see your site in the results, then Google is filtering your site when SafeSearch is enabled.

How to optimize your site for SafeSearch

The following ways help you identify explicit pages on your site. This helps ensure users see the results they want to see or expect to see and are not surprised once they visit the sites that are shown in their search results. The following methods can also help our systems recognize that your entire site isn't explicit in nature if you also have some non-explicit pages.

Add metadata to pages with explicit content

One of the strongest signals our systems use to identify pages with explicit content is when publishers mark such pages (or indicate in headers) the following meta tag:

<meta name="rating" content="adult">

We recommend adding this tag to any page with explicit content. This is also the only thing you need to do if your site has only a relatively small amount of explicit content. For example, if you had a few pages that contain explicit content within a site of several hundred pages, tagging those pages would generally be sufficient and you would not need to group pages into a subdomain.

Group explicit pages in a separate location

If your site contains significant amounts of explicit content and non-explicit content, we also recommend grouping the explicit pages separately from the non-explicit pages on your site, in addition to adding metadata.

For example, all explicit pages could be placed on a separate domain or subdomain:

https://explicit.example.com/page.html
https://explicit.example.com/image.jpg
https://explicit.example.com/video.mp4

Alternatively, all explicit pages could be grouped in a separate directory:

https://example.com/explicit/page.html
https://example.com/explicit/image.jpg
https://example.com/explicit/video.mp4

If you don't group pages separately, our systems might determine that your entire site seems explicit in nature and filter the entire site when SafeSearch is on, even if some pages might not be explicit.

Allow Google to fetch your video content files

Allowing Googlebot to fetch your video files enables Google to understand the video content and provide a better experience for users who don't want or don't expect to see explicit results.

This is also used to help better identify potential violations of our policy against child sexual abuse and exploitation. Google may limit or prevent discoverability of explicit pages when the embedded video file cannot be fetched and our automated systems indicate the page may contain child sexual abuse material or other media prohibited under our policies. Learn more about our content safety tools and Google's commitment to fighting child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Troubleshooting

If you've made the changes suggested here and still find that your website is being incorrectly flagged as explicit, consider the following:

  • If you recently made the changes, our classifiers may need more time to process them. It can take up to 2-3 months.
  • If you are blurring explicit images on a page, the page may still be deemed explicit if the image can be unblurred or leads to an unblurred image.
  • Understand that if your page contains nudity for whatever reason—even to illustrate a medical procedure—the intent doesn't negate the explicit nature of that content.
  • Be aware that your site might be deemed explicit if it contains explicit user-generated content or has explicit content injected into it by hackers using cloaked keywords or other techniques.
  • Note that explicit pages aren't eligible for some search features, such as rich snippets, featured snippets, or video previews. Learn more about Search feature policies.

If you believe your site has clearly been incorrectly categorized by SafeSearch, and it has been at least 2-3 months since you've followed the guidance for optimizing your site, you can request a review.