5 Questions About Adult SEO Answered

speedy host SEO for escorts adult websitesA short, but exclusive, interview with Richard Brown of Speedy Host which provides SEO for escorts. Naturally, the information works for any adult business website.

In layman’s terms, what is the simplest definition of SEO?

I suppose the best and most simplistic definition of SEO i.e. search engine optimisation would be “a practice used to increase a websites organic ranking in the main search engines.”

Do you think the term “digital strategy” would be more accurate?

Yes but, we’ve learnt over the years of working in this industry that layman’s terms enlist the best response.

In today’s world, what does SEO involve?

Every year the industry takes major leaps forward in the different methods and technologies that are used to achieve its goals. The majority of firms will consist of SEO technicians with a background in web development these guys handle the onsite optimisation, PR specialists who do the outreach and link acquisition and digital marketers for campaign strategy development, implementation and performance monitoring.

With Google censoring so much adult content, is it worth the time and/or money to even try?

Google’s latest policy update concerning the censoring of NSFW content only has implications for websites operating on Google’s free blog hosting platforms like Blogger. If a website owner is really serious about increasing their ranking position in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) then, SEO can achieve this provided that the website has a registered domain and paid for hosting.

We hear how important social media is, including its role in search engine algorithms. But if you are an escort or otherwise have an adult site, you are usually a persona non grata at such networks. Any thoughts or advice?

This a genuine problem that drives many experienced SEO’s away from working on escort campaigns. The reality is that yes escorts are limited to where they can post content therefore any marketing agency providing a service for escort clients really has to think out of the box when devising a marketing strategy.

Google Takes Knife To Throat Of Sex Positivity

Google may be one of the most admired companies, but it once again places a knife at the throat of sex positivity with it’s latest censorship announcement. Tuesday Google announced to users that it will be eliminating all adult Blogger/Blogspot blogs from public availability ~ and taking them out of all forms of search ~ on March 23, 2015. Look here for history and details.

It should be noted that this is far more severe than the Tumblr Panic (and ensuing reaction). And the new policy is in a vastly different spirit than the change in Reddit policy, which was a credible response to privacy (and legal) issues.

Overall, this is perplexing as sex & porn continues to be a hot topic for online searches. Isn’t it Google’s job, as a search engine, to give the people what they want?

Why Google wants to do this remains a mystery, really. But the bottom line for savvy bloggers and marketers ~mainstream and adult ~ is this: Pay for hosting of your site at a place where it is welcome. Wise advice repeated here & here.

For possible solutions, see here and keep an eye out at conversations here, here, here, here.

Tumblr Stumbles, Tries To Right Itself, Banks Left

On July 16, 2013, Tumblr creator David Karp was on The Colbert Report. During the short interview segment, Karp and host Stephen Colbert discussed a number of issues ~ including the naked, and sometimes fornicating, elephant in the room: porn on Tumblr.

When Colbert called Tumblr “porn central”, Karp defended the site, saying not only that there’s “everything” on Tumblr, but expressing a non-censorship stance:

We’ve taken a pretty hard line on freedom of speech, supporting our users’ creation, whatever that looks like, and it’s just not something we want to police … I don’t want have to go in there to draw the line between this photo and this behind-the-scenes photo of Lady Gaga and, like, her nip.

But then, just two days later, Tumblr instituted a new policy about adult content. Along with the pre-Yahoo sale attempts to exclude search engine indexing of adult Tumblr bogs, Tumblr’s new rules meant that adult-rated blogs and their posts would no longer show up in site tags; the former preventing blogs from being found off-site, the latter keeping blogs from being searched and found on Tumblr itself.

Obviously, this lead to quite the reaction from Tumblr users.

Perhaps the most eloquent argument I read was this post on Somewhere West Of Hell:

Two points.

1. Those of whom know of tumblr but do not have a tumblr blog, are aware that tumblr is a place of free expression; thus, some “inappropriate” things such as porn and smut are undoubtedly likely to show up. As a result, if said people do not like or agree with porn or smut, they have three choices: if they went ahead and made a tumblr anyway, they can either delete their account, or unfollow blogs that post smut or porn. Or, they could just not create a tumblr in the first place, knowing that if they are uncomfortable with anything sex-related, that tumblr was obviously not the place for them.

Therefore, if people already had choices in avoiding sex on tumblr, and were most likely doing fine in avoiding sex on tumblr, why should the rest of us be punished and shunned, if those people whom are uncomfortable with the human body failed to create their own chosen environment on tumblr? (This being a non-sex, strictly “safe-for-work” environment). Tumblr is unique in the fact that we can choose what shows up on our dashboards based on which blogs we follow. Thus, it is therefore our responsibility and freedom to follow and unfollow those who either add or detract from our blogging experience. That’s what makes tumblr unique.

2. Who says sex is a bad thing? Why does sex have to be such a secret? It’s the key to almost every species’ survival. It brings pleasure. It has loads of beneficial aspects going for it. Overall, sex is a good thing. We are free to visit porn sites if we so choose. We can talk about sex openly with others. We can educate those who do not know about sex and its potential cons. Therefore, why can’t we blog about it without being judged and shunned? If this was a website created with freedom of creative expression in mind, whatever that entails be it smut, fan-fiction, porn, fashion, poetry, photography, what-have-you, why should only some forms of creative expression be accepted? Aren’t we allowed to express ourselves in whichever way we deem fit? In daily life, we are. So why can’t we express ourselves the way we want, in a place that was originally founded on the principle that we could do it here without being judged? Judged, by our families, our friends? A place of which many refer to it as a safe harbor? A place where those who need help in dealing with a problem; those who maybe want to kick-start their artistic careers; those who are outcasts in a society that already judges them; those whose interests and views on life clash with their family’s—can come and be themselves, and interact with many other people who are here for the same reasons? Tumblr is not just a website. It’s a community. We come here to have blogs that show what our specific interests are, and be with people who don’t judge us for it. So if one of those interests is, say, sex, who is to say that sex is a “bad” interest? Are we really going to sit here and just accept the fact that we are being judged and shunned, on a website that was originally created as a safe harbor from being judged and shunned? Are we really going to accept the fact that our personal interests and ways we express ourselves are no longer of any importance?

What I want to know, is where is David Karp? Didn’t he vow to protect us from such outlandish (and frankly prejudiced) changes to a website we hold dear?

Those “two points” may be preaching to the choir here; but it’s also an excellent (though brief) tutorial on what makes Tumblr tick ~ and what ticks-off Tumblr users. Privacy or anonymity is a large part of Tumblr’s appeal; something directly addressed on Karp’s appearance on The Colbert Report.




This issue of privacy was more sharply addressed when, Karp fielded questions from Colbert regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) and the PRISM program. When specifically asked what he would do if Tumblr was approached to turn over data to the NSA, Karp responded, “That’s a complicated question, Stephen, you’re putting me on the spot. We don’t want to give you anything that’s not in the best interest of our users. We’ve fought for that for six years.” (The matter of whether or not this all goes out the window if Yahoo forces folks to login to Tumblr with a Yahoo account, etc., remains to be seen.)

In any case, privacy is one of the reasons why porn is so popular on Tumblr. Just how popular? To have an understanding of the actual amount of porn on Tumblr, we need some data:

According to an analysis of Tumblr’s 200,000 most-visited domains, 22,775 of them are adult – or 11.4 percent. The analysis was performed by web measurement firm SimilarGroup, a company which raised$2.5 million earlier this year with the intention of competing with Alexa’s stronghold in web rankings.

The measurement firm analyzed the volume of visits to these adult subdomains, and found that 16.6 percent of the traffic that visits Tumblr takes place on adult blogs.

In addition, 22.37 percent of incoming referral traffic from external sites to Tumblr is from adult websites, making that the leading category for referrals. Meanwhile, 8.02 percent of outbound traffic from Tumblr goes to adult websites.

Truth be told, porn and adult content is everywhere on the web, including other popular mainstream social or curation sites; no matter how you define it or try to scrub it (or force folks to opt in or out of it). And I feel this is what was largely reflected in Karp’s statements on The Colbert Report. Even if those realities are, as some say, likely to “disappoint one of Karp and Yahoo’s key audiences: advertisers.”

This issue of advertising is key to profitability, of course; so it’s not irrelevant. But, as Peter Kafka reports, Tumblr is only showing ads on the dashboards of logged-in users, anyway. “Non-story. Tumblr is the Internet. It’s a dashboard follower model, opt-in.”

In Karp’s defense, he quickly responded to Tumblr user upset and “clarified” a few things about the NSFW/adult content policies (greater details of which can also be found in Violet Blue’s recent article at ZDNet). But another issue stands out here…

In point three of his censorship response, Karp wrote:

Earlier this year, in an effort to discourage some not-so-nice people from using Tumblr as free hosting for spammy commercial porn sites, we started delisting this tiny subset of blogs from search engines like Google.

Like Ms Naughty, I wondered just what this meant. “Spammy” can be just as subjective as “pornography”; what are the guidelines? According to the Tumblr Community Guidelines, under “Spam” the following is listed:

Don’t use deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic, or create blogs with the primary purpose of affiliate marketing.

That sentence is more than a little clumsy, so let’s clean it up a bit. The message is “Don’t create blogs with the primary purpose of affiliate marketing.” Hmmm, this is starting to smell of the recent Google Blogger/Blogspot adult blog policy changes which target “blogs which are adult in nature and are displaying advertisements to adult websites.”

I can’t help but feel that the real problem here is people profiting off “dirty money” ~ money that these companies, Yahoo, Google, Tumblr, all leave on the table when they refuse to serve/offer any adult advertising. (The only ones brave enough, smart enough, to actually profit from adult advertising revenues appears to be JuicyAds and BlogAds.) When the search engine ad machines eschew such adult funds, why, then, are they saying we can’t pursue them via affiliate programs? I tell you, this growing pornocalypse has more to do with the finance sector than anyone, even Google & Yahoo, are willing to admit.

*sigh*

It almost makes one long for the good old fashioned mafia… At least that way you knew who was in charge, calling the shots, and there were rules with those shakedowns and payoffs. Now who the hell knows?

Tumblr Panic

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.