Safe browsing, although quite beneficial when you simply surf through the web, can have some not very beneficial impacts on your SEO. Check what is Safe Browsing and find out why Google decided to drop it as a ranking factor. Keep reading!
While beneficial for general purpose web surfing, the Google Safe Browsing system interacted very negatively with SEO in its initial incarnations. Something webmasters and business owners need to understand is how this system works and how it interacts with SEO practices. Even though Google dropped it as a requirement for SEO ranking, there are still things to learn about it and the history of the system is relevant to current-day practices. This article will explain the system’s history, how to navigate Safe Browsing and just why it was dropped as a ranking signal.
What is Safe Browsing?
Launched in 2007, Safe Browsing was Google’s attempt to protect the entire web from phishing attacks. To this day, the system has expanded to include various malware, unwanted software, and various social engineering gimmicks across all kinds of platforms. This has enabled the web to be somewhat moderated and has improved overall internet health and security for the entire world.
The way this works is that Google will show users warnings on the pages when they attempt to navigate to potentially dangerous sites or download potentially dangerous files. It will also go on to notify webmasters when their sites are potentially compromised by a variety of illegitimate sources and help them solve the problem through diagnosis and advice. This allows their users to remain safe and have their internet usage experience remain unaffected. These protections work across every Google service and enhance security all over the world.
How to Use Safe Browsing
As one of many tools to understand in order to give your site the best SEO possible, Safe Browsing used to have a much more direct effect on SEO. Even if it does not today, it is still important to understand how to use it in order to understand how you can build your site around its existence. Using Safe Browsing is actually an incredibly easy task to set up and it will ensure that you have some level of protection against a variety of online threats:
Change Browser Settings
This process is the simplest and works specifically with the Chrome browser (which is coincidentally the most used browser). By enabling this, you will actively protect yourself from potentially malicious sites and increase your cybersecurity.
- Open the Chrome browser.
- At the top right, find the three-dot button, click it, and select Settings.
- Find “Privacy and Security” and choose Security.
- Choose the level of Safe Browsing that you will find most beneficial.
Choose Your Protection Level
Each protection level comes with benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to find the one most tailored to your use case. While many will want the enhanced protection level for the ultimate in safety, there can be many cases where you want something a little less strict, and times where you need to turn off Safe Browsing altogether.
- Enhanced Protection provides the user with warnings about sites of potential risk, including risky downloads and extensions, and will automatically tell you about them. It will also automatically notify you about password breaches and send Google additional information about your activities in order to better understand your habits to prevent impersonation. Finally, it will defend you from dangerous files by giving you warnings for any suspicious download.
- Standard Protection will also give warnings about risky sites, downloads, and extensions, as well as the option to choose what specific level of warning you get for password breaches. In addition, you will also be given the option to send additional security data to Google in order to improve the Internet’s security.
- No Protection will completely shut off Safe Browsing. This can be enabled at any time and may e enabled with other Google services.
By following these steps, you will be able to ensure protection while using the Chrome browser and have a much more overall safe experience while surfing the web.
Why Has Google Dropped Safe Browsing For Ranking?
So what happens when Safe Browsing tags your site as a problematic location? Well, before, it would down-rank you significantly. In order to “clean up the internet,” Safe Browsing would essentially block a site from search since it was a large part of the overall metrics for site ranking. This has luckily changed and the service will no longer affect the results for websites.
One of the ways in which Safe Browsing was deemed unacceptable to rank sites was because sites themselves would succumb to “third-party hijacking” and essentially give Google a false notification that the site was unsafe. This would then cause Google to delist and drank it, causing the service’s webmaster no end of trouble. Since a large portion of sites would not be at fault for any ill intent, Google decided that there needed to be a significant change in the way the product worked.
Industry professionals have also chimed in with opinions about the change, all praising it, and considering the change a direct boon to SEO management:
This is one less ranking signal and factor you need to worry about when it comes to your performance in Google Search. – Barry Schwartz
Sometimes sites fall victim to third-party hijacking, which can cause Safe Browsing warnings to be surfaced. We recognize that these issues aren’t always within the control of site owners, which is why we’re clarifying that Safe Browsing isn’t used as a ranking signal and won’t feature in the Page Experience report. – Google Developer Report
Safe Browsing is Building a Better Web
With most of the issues ironed out of the system, Google’s Safe Browsing feature for Chrome is a potent and impressive tool that allows better moderation of the content found online. By using its services, Google has significantly cleaned up the online space and has made browsing safer for all parties involved. While initially being a detriment to certain websites due to faulty or misplaced warnings, Google has decided to lift the Safe Browsing requirements for website SEO rankings and streamlined the process. By doing so, we get all the benefits of a more moderated internet with none of the negative SEO considerations!