Google Does Not Treat Adult Sites Differently in Search Results

Does Google treat adult sites differently in the search results when compared to non-adult sites?  The question came up last week at SMX West during the AMA with Google’s Nathan Johns, who is part of the search team at Google.

Here is the question:

How are adult sites evaluated for ranking?  Given that most of their links are poor quality or affiliate?

And Nathan Johns’ response:

Obviously, we have safe search, so we do have an algorithmic way to identify adult content.  Beyond that, there really isn’t anything else.  Each site gets treated the same.

This means, of course, that low quality links can influence how well the site does in the search results.  But if many of the site’s competitors are also in the similar situation with the quality of their links, it won’t have as much of an impact, aside from the possibility of a link-based manual action.

As for the affiliate links, Google has said previously that affiliate links won’t hurt a website, so long as they are not passing PageRank.

Johns also mentions Safe Search specifically, which will filter out adult content from the search results when it is enabled.  But whether a site is filtered in Safe Search or not would have no bearing on how it would rank for searchers who do not filter adult content via Safe Search.

This is kind of similar to the issue of affiliate sites in Google.  Google doesn’t treat affiliate sites any different from non-affiliate sites, but many affiliate sites have characteristics of low quality sites that don’t perform as well in search.  For example, many affiliate sites use product feeds which results in content that is identical to that on many other sites, or use spun content, which affects its ability to rank well in search.

Bottom line, Google doesn’t treat adult websites differently in the search results, but quality algos will still apply.  The only thing that can affect these types of sites specifically because they are adult content is for searchers with Safe Search enabled.

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