I’ve been busy with clients (and curating the adult industry and sex worker news and info at Scoop.It), but given all the Tumblr panic I thought it might be helpful for me to give a concise post (including a link round-up) of all the best info on the current situation.
Tumblr, for those who don’t know, is a site as well used (the term “Tumblr” overtook “blog” in Google searches in January 2013) as it is loathed ~ in mainstream and adult circles, for the same reasons.
For adult webmasters and bloggers, the real ruckus started when Tumblr prepared itself for a Yahoo buy-out by appearing to purge itself of adult content. The micro-blogging site did this quite effectively when it dealt a dirty blow to Tumblr users by using robots.txt to exclude the search engines from indexing sites labeled as “adult”. This was reported in accurate detail by Bacchus at the long-respected ErosBlog. (it must be noted that Tumblr does not seem to be using the Robots Meta Tag. Do you know about robots.txt files and Robots Meta Tags?)
This was reported by Bacchus before anyone even had an idea that Yahoo & Tumblr were in talks. Just days later, Bacchus again discussed issues for adult bloggers at Tumblr, i.e. how difficult it became to even search your own Tumblr blog & how to back-up your Tumblr site. By this time, the rumors had become official news: Yahoo had purchased Tumblr.
Quickly, Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer insisted that the company would “let Tumblr be Tumblr”, despite concerns regarding Tumblr content which is not “brand safe” for advertisers:
Asked by an investor how Yahoo would balance user and advertiser interests with regard to Tumblr content that is “not as brand safe as the rest of Yahoo” — content that presumably includes posts by sexually explicit Tumblrs such as “Red Hot Porn,” “Porn and Weed” and “Secretary Sex” — Mayer noted that the diversity of Tumblr’s content was “exciting” because it allowed Tumblr, and by extension Yahoo, to reach a far wider audience. She explained that carefully targeting ad placement should allay the concerns of marketers who might be skittish about placing their brand alongside explicit content.
“I think the richness and breadth of content available on Tumblr — even though it may not be as brand safe as what’s on our site — is what’s really exciting and allows us to reach even more users,” said Mayer, who did not mention pornography as such, but referred obliquely to content that was not “brand safe.” “One of the ways to start measuring our growth story here is around traffic and users, and this obviously produces a lot of that. In terms of how to address advertisers’ concerns around brand safety, we need to have good tools for targeting.”
You can, and should, read the rest of that article. But what does this mean for adult bloggers at Tumblr?
I have a number of clients that use Tumblr as part of their adult industry promotional needs. Those who have paid heed to what they paid my fees for, use Tumblr in conjunction with their overall strategies are less concerned than those who have relied solely on the publishing platform. Not having all their eggs in one basket ~ and a basket out of their control yet, has them less freaked. In any case, however, the following should be kept in mind.
1) Readers or surfers who want porn, erotica, and any other sort of adult entertainment, they likely already have found the smut they seek on Tumblr and they will just continue to Tumblr-hop (click) as they have been. New users can stumble into porn on Tumblr using the search function and clicking about as desired. It may not be as easy as before; but it can be done. And, as always, links to your Tumblr site from sites outside of Tumblr are a good thing.
Overall, this means your traffic may not be affected. (In fact, for all clients reporting stats during this period of panic, traffic has continued to steadily increase.)
2) Adult Tumblr sites (and many mainstream Tumblr sites as well) will likely start to feel the pain of loss of PageRank (PR) from Tumblr/Yahoo’s desire to hide if not suppress adult content. While the easy-breezy method of Tumblr reblogging once assisted in building PageRank (provided you earned a reputation and following on Tumblr that garnered reblogs), the foreseen loss of PR means a loss of PR to pass to your other sites. Again, see the info on robots.txt files and Robots Tags:
What robots.txt does not do is to keep files out of the search engine indexes. The only thing it does is instruct search engine spiders not to crawl pages. Keep in mind that discovery and crawling are separate. Discovery occurs as search engines find links in documents. When search engines discover pages, they may or may not add them to their indexes.
That means outside links to your Tumblr site and pages will be more important than ever.
3) The largest threat in this Tumblr buy-out isn’t the move to sweep dirty little adult blogs under a no-robots rug but the single fact that Yahoo is the new owner.
Despite public promises not to screw it up (also here), Yahoo has a history of killing the sites it buys. Generally, this appears to be intentional. Yahoo is really only buying the talent behind the technology, throwing the start-up babies (their users and loyal adopters) out with the not-Yahoo-branded bathwater. Of the 10 other companies Yahoo purchased in less than a year, only one, Summly, has been allowed to live. So far, it seems Tumblr may have survived the post-purchase shut-down. But for how long? Yahoo has bungled more than a few babies they’ve intended to raise. Case in point, Flickr ~ which they continue to beat with a big stick.
Whether adult blogging will continue to be allowed at Tumblr, whether you stay at Tumblr or go, these may not be the only questions here… Will Tumblr itself stay or go is another good question. Meanwhile, it would be a good idea to prepare for whatever may come of your relationship with Tumblr.