Google’s John Mueller says websites containing any adult content, regardless of the amount, are not eligible to serve rich results.
This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours live stream from December 11. A site owner asks Mueller which structured data markup, if any, is allowed on adult websites.
It’s known Google doesn’t serve rich results for adult content, and Mueller confirms as much in his response, but the question comes up every so often.
“I think in our rich results guidelines we say none of [the rich result types] are useful for adult websites. But I haven’t checked recently.
I don’t know if anything has changed there but, at least as far as I know, the types of rich results that I’m aware of are explicitly not meant for adult content websites.”
Google doesn’t serve rich results for adult content, but there’s no penalty or demotion associated with using the markup either.
“I don’t think there’s any kind of manual action or webspam action that takes place in something like that.
It’s more that our systems recognize: oh this is an adult website, and it wants to show these rich results types, but since it’s an adult website we just won’t show them. So it’s not like it will be demoted or anything.”
From there the discussion gets more granular, as Mueller is asked whether non-adult content can serve rich results if it’s published on a website known for 18+ content.
Mueller addresses whether a domain can have any adult content and continue to be eligible for rich results.
Mueller on Adult Content & Google’s Rich Results
It’s known Google won’t serve adult content as a rich result. But what if an adult website has content that’s safe for all audiences – is it be eligible for rich results?
Mueller explains whether content is eligible for rich results depends on SafeSearch filters. Any content that doesn’t pass Google’s SafeSearch filters cannot be displayed as a rich result.
If a majority of a domain’s content doesn’t pass SafeSearch, then Google will stay on the safe side and filter out all content from that domain. Meaning all content is ineligible for rich results, even if a percentage is safe for all audiences.
“With a lot of the safe search filters we try to apply them to a broader URL pattern on a website. So if we see that a whole domain is adult content for the most part, and you have some small part that is not adult, then probably we would filter the whole domain. We want to stay on the safe side there.
If you have individual subdomains, where some are adult and some of them are not, that makes it a little bit easier. If you have separate domains then obviously that makes it a lot easier for us to understand that these are completely separate websites that should be treated differently.”
Mueller adds that this works the other way around. If a non-adult website has a percentage of content intended for adult audiences then the whole domain will be filtered by safe search.
“It also happens the other way around where some sites might have classified sections which are for adults, and then if that section is embedded within the main website in a way that is hard to separate out, then we might say well we don’t know how much of this site should be filtered by safe search.
Maybe we’ll filter too much, maybe we won’t filter enough. On the other hand if you move that to a subdomain then it’s a lot easier to say oh this subdomain should be treated like this, and the other other subdomain should be treated differently.”
Adult content can render a whole domain ineligible for rich results, regardless of how much or how little of said content appears on the site.
To avoid getting a whole domain filtered by SafeSearch then publish adult content on a subdomain or, if possible, a separate website.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below: