Search engine safety study key findings

McAfee recently updated their study titled “The State of Search Engine Safety”. Among the study’s new key findings are:

” 4.0 percent of all search results link to risky Web sites

” AOL returns the safest results with 2.9 percent rated red or yellow, down from 5.3 percent in May 2006. Yahoo returned the most red or yellow results, 5.4 percent.

” Sponsored results contain 2.4 times as many risky sites as organic sites; in fact, 6.9 percent of all sponsored results are rated red or yellow. This represents an improvement from 8.5 percent last year, primarily due to Google’s improvements in paid search safety. (Google’s sponsored listings are featured on its own search engine, and also partially power ads on AOL and Ask.)

” Categories related to music and technology continue to be among the most dangerous search terms. “Digital music” returns the highest percentage of risky sites at 19.1 percent, followed by “tech toys” and popular keywords like “chat” and “wallpaper.”

” File sharing programs were also prominent among top risky keywords. Dangerous file sharing searches include “Bearshare” (45.9 percent risky results), “limewire” (37.1 percent), “kazaa” (34.9 percent) and “winmix” (32 percent).

” Scam sites remain prevalent, representing 3.2 percent of all sponsored listings. Typical scams include download sites selling free software, ringtone sites with misleading billing practices, and work-at-home sites with deceptive terms.

” Among adult keyword search results, risky sites increased by 17.5 percent since December 2006, and risky sites now number 9.4 percent of overall adult search results. Driving this increase was a dramatic 72.2 percent increase in the percentage of risky adult sites within sponsored results.

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