How does SafeSearch work?

Updated on: 25 September 2013

YouTube video

This video talks about how Safe searches work on filtering porn sites. It was discussed how certain words are given weight together with the preventive measures that they implement in the algorithms to avoid misinterpretation of clean websites. It was also described how sophisticated the method is. Matt Cutts also distinguished the methods used by older search engines from the methods employes nowadays by Google.

The video highlights the following points:

  • Safe search for texts works by locating certain words and allocating certain weights on the same. If there are lot of words in the texts and concurrently having an enough weight, it was assumed that such text is porn or something related to it.
  • There are thresholds established indicating the level of the safety of the searches which is helpful in distinguishing or classifying safe from dangerous texts.
  • Other factors such as the typographical errors or misspellings are also considered by the safesearch in filtering sites. For example, if the word “amateur” supposedly spelled as A-M-A-T-E-U-R is being spelled as A-M-A-T-U-R-E, then it is most likely for the safe search to consider it as something more related to porn. It is presumed to be “amateur porn” instead of a wholesome “amateur radio”. Safe search is also careful in other words and avoid such presumptions
  • There are options for webmasters who are filtered by safe search even though it is not a pornographic site but the latter it considers it as such. These people can submit a report to the authority on the safe search for them to improve their services by modifying the algorithms so as to avoid future occurrences of incidents involving perfectly clean sites considered as porn sites. However, the safe search really catches porn by straightforward searches.
  • Older search engines like AltaVista have certain features that limit the number of results if the setting was set to family mode. On the other hand, Google have different mentality as they exclude identified porn sites from those clean and legitimate sites which could offend most of the users.

In order to achieve better rankings, you should:

  • Use the proper words in your website if there is a need to tackle more sensitive issues like sex or something like that. This is to avoid the filter of Safe search and be identified as a legitimate site and not as a porn site.
  • In case your website was misinterpreted by the Safe search as a porn site, submit a report to Google and explain that you are not a porn site for them to improve their algorithms and avoid future problems.