Safe Browsing is No Longer a Factor for Google Rankings

If your business’s website has been a victim of hijacking that’s caused Google Safe Browsing to flag it as unsafe for visitors, its ranking will no longer be affected.

Google recently announced the change as part of a move to simplify its Page Experience Report. This comes as Google rolls out a page experience ranking update, which began in June and will be completed at the end of August.

The main reason for the Safe Browsing change, according to Google: It’s not always your fault if your site triggers a warning. While not necessarily a major threat for most businesses’ sites, third-party hijacking does create Safe Browsing flags for some users. Google rightly identified that it isn’t fair to punish those sites in the rankings.

You Should Keep Your Site Safe, Even If It Doesn’t Affect Rankings

Google will still notify site owners if there are issues with Safe Browsing. But it will only do so via the Page Experience Report rather than hurting the site in the rankings.

Even if Safe Browsing flags will no longer hurt your rankings, it’s still a good idea for you to maintain a safe site.

If your site has malware, users will see one of five warnings:

  • The site ahead contains malware. 
  • Deceptive site ahead.
  • Suspicious site.
  • The site ahead contains harmful programs.
  • This page is trying to load scripts from unauthenticated sources.

The warning is big, red, and scary. If a customer is trying to find your business, and comes across one they’re probably going to turn around and run as fast as possible.

Google has a few resources, including a Site Status Diagnostic Tool to help webmasters identify malware issues.

Take a Close Look at the 6 Search Signals for Page Experience

With Safe Browsing gone, there are now six search signals for page experience. They are:

  • Loading
  • Interactivity
  • Visual Stability
  • Mobile Friendly
  • No Intrusive Interstitials

The first three (Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability) are Core Web Vitals, which play a more prominent role in search rankings. The latter three (Mobile Friendly, HTTPS, and No Intrusive Interstitials) are non-Core Web Vitals. 

Safe Browsing was a non-Core Web Vital, so its exclusion may not have a seismic effect on rankings. Still, it’s worth having a look at how your ranking may change, especially if your site has been flagged for safe browsing issues before, and with the ongoing page experience ranking update. 

We’ve written before about how to navigate page experience ranking updates. Once you’ve taken care of any Safe Browsing problems, it’s a good idea to use resources like the Core Web Vitals Report to improve your user experience.