Most of us don't think of search in terms of how safe it is. Generally we just want relevant results. But search safety plays a significant role in determining if the search results are sites that we can trust. McAfee recently reclease their State of Search Engine Safety report, an updated from their May and December 2006 reports.

The first question to ask is, what makes a site "unsafe?" According to McAfee, they look for things such as browser exploits, email harvesting, unwanted downloads, scams, annoyances and links to other unsafe sites.

The study documents how many unsafe sites appear in the first five pages of over 2,300 popular keyword search results.

What they found over the course of the last 12 months is rather interesting. Overall, there has been a reduction in unsafe sites appearing in the search results. Yahoo, which produced the second safest results in May 2006 now produces the most unsafe results. Google, which previously the most unsafe is now second safest behind AOL.

But before you get too concerned about how unsafe the resutls really are, the biggest offender, Yahoo, produces about one unsafe search result for every two pages of SERPs (based on 10 results per page). The safest, AOL, produces one unsafe result for every three pages.

Other notable features of the report: Unsafe sites appear 2.4 times more often in sponsored results than natural search. This is a testement to the quality of search algorithms. Even still you'll find two ads pointing to unsafe sites for every 30 sponsored results. And that number has been declining over the past 12 months.

Want to know the ten most dangerous keyword search categories and how often those results produce unsafe sites?

1. Digital Music - 19.1%
2. Tech Toys - 18.1%
3. To Do Online - 17.5%
4. Technology Queries - 13.5%
5. Christmas Craze - 11.8%
6. Singers - 11.6%
7. Popular Male Singers - 11.5%
8. Top Music Queries - 10.6%
9. Popular Software - 10.1%
10. Popular Brunettes - 9.7%

Gotta love #10!

And finally, the list of worst specific keyword searches and how often those results produce unsafe sites:

1. bearshare - 45.9%
2. screensavers - 42.0%
3. limewire - 37.1%
4. kazaa - 34.9%
5. lime wire - 33.3%
6. winmx - 32.0%
7. wallpapers - 31.1%
8. hentai - 29.7%
9. halloween wallpaper - 28.6%
10. ringtones - 28.4%

Search safely, folks!

June 6, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

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