Googles Search Filtering Options. This feature was implemented by Google in 2000 to help shield ourselves and our children from the explicit, sometimes racy choices available on the web. But did you know that it can dramatically alter the organic positioning of a website depending on the level of filter you choose?

I was reviewing a client's keyword positioning with them and noticed that they had a dramatically different result than I did. The first thing that came to mind was Google's personalization so I made sure I had disabled web history.  After digging a little deeper, I realized it was because of my safe search settings.

In most instances, you may not notice much of a difference in the search results; however, this was too big a discrepancy and was worth looking into more.

Here's a great example of the different filtering options and how they can affect the actual ranking position of website. Let's look at the skin care industry and a couple of the most relevant keyword terms using the various filter settings.

Do not filter my search results: A seemingly innocent keyword term looking for information, services or products on facials or best facials to restore or maintain a healthy, youthful complexion, can deliver web content and image results that would make David Duchovny blush. With this setting I noticed that websites ranking in the top 3 positions were now showing much lower in the results.

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Use moderate filtering (Googles default setting): The same queries searched with a more moderate filter, now blocks most of the explicit images when using Google Image Search, however, keep in mind that this does not affect regular web search results. (insert blushing smiley face here). This time, I noticed there wasnt as large a difference in the positioning as most of the explicit websites were blocked. It did, however, still alter the ranking of a website by a least 1-2 positions.

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Use strict filtering: By selecting this option, weve covered all of our bases. Both regular web search and image search results exclude all explicit content/material. The search ranking positions of the websites remained consistent with this setting.

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So keep in mind, when reviewing a websites ranking position, try searching related keywords using each of the different filtering options. You may just find them to be in a different position than they were before.

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One Response to “Why Your Site Ranks Differently For You: Are You Practicing ‘Safe Search’?”

  1. Let's also remember that the element of geography may also affect the SERPs. For example if you are on one side of the country and your client is on the other (or even in another country altogether) Google will likely display different results to you based on your location.
    .-= Richard @ Lifestyle Design Unleashed recently posted: When To Quit Lifestyle Design =-.