Will profanities hurt your search rankings?


We don’t have a direct answer for this one from Google, but evidence suggests that you shouldn’t use bad words for several reasons.

The anecdotes:

  • According to my personal experience, Google won’t show any snippets that contain cursing.
  • Google might censor or replace profanities in your titles and meta descriptions. How this affects the ranking is uncertain.
  • If your content is R-rated and the user will have SafeSearch on (which is enabled by default), they won’t see your website in the SERPs.
  • Profanities are banned in Google’s autocomplete algorithms.
  • Google censors profanities in voice search. [1]

The facts:

  • Google doesn’t allow curse words in review snippets schema anymore [2]

Avoid profanity and vulgar language. Reviews should be appropriate for a broad and diverse audience. Consequently, reviews containing vulgar or profane language may be ineligible for use.

Google Search Central
  • The same can be said about structured data for job postings. [3]

We don’t allow job postings that contain obscene, profane, or offensive language.

Google Search Central
  • Q&A and FAQ structured snippets won’t display if there are any bad words in there either. [4] [5]

Question and answer content may not be displayed as a rich result if it contains any of the following types of content: obscene, profane, sexually explicit, graphically violent, promotion of dangerous or illegal activities, or hateful or harassing language.

Google Search Central

My tip:

Keep it PG-13 100% of the time. No point of risking these rankings for appearing edgy. Google is an advertising company, first and foremost, and advertisers prefer content that is clean.