Leveraging Google's Image Search

Stephen Yagielowicz
In the never-ending quest for traffic, many webmasters and online marketers focus on the importance of Google as a source of quality visitors, whether through strictly organic listings in the natural search results, or via paid placement in the AdWords network.

Google, however, offers an often overlooked search stream that may be perfect for savvy adult marketers to profit from. It is Google Image Search (GIS) — and rather than being the source of "content theft" that some critics make it out to be, it may be among the best ways for you to market your material — particularly if it appeals to a narrowly targeted audience that is searching for the niche content of its dreams.

For one strategy, think of Google's Image Search as a distribution channel for your best thumbnail images — and just as you might build a unique gallery for listing at a specific TGP, you might build a unique gallery for promoting this way; choosing a high-impact image that leads to more of the same.

This sort of image-based marketing can have limited results for many operators, however, because you are attracting people looking at free porn pics and they really may not want to know about your offers of dating and dongs. It is a case of conversions being much more important than visits — you want buyers, not gawkers.

But for those selling adult images — whether on a subscription site, or via direct download or VOD system — GIS may prove to be a nearly ideal marketing vehicle.

While it's important to keep in mind that Google tends to be even less tolerant of GIS spamming than it is in its regular index, there are a number of basic techniques that can be taken to optimize your approach to this traffic stream.

For example, experts advise the use of descriptive filenames that contain targeted keywords, along with a descriptive image title containing a keyword or phrase. Google sees dashes within the filename as spaces between words, but abuses in this regard can have negative consequences.

The creative use of the "alt" tag is another tried-and-true SEO technique that is even more important when optimizing for GIS, as the alt tag text (when available) is used instead of the filename within search results.

These techniques are nothing more than basic SEO, but their use is not universal, nor is their application to GIS marketing.

Once the basics are taken care of, the next step is to be listed by the Google Image Labeler, a process which is apparently now done as part of the spider's overall site crawl. Google Webmaster Central account holders were once able to use an Enhanced Image Search setting which facilitated image labeling, but this feature was removed with last year's Spring makeover. This can leave the keywords for your image up to randomly paired strangers playing the Image Labeler game.

Still, the effort of marketing through GIS is worthwhile if a suitable offer is made and presented; with the only expense being a little time — and perhaps a lot of bandwidth — as image hotlinking is one of the only downsides to GIS marketing.

As one final word of advice from Google, sites with adult images should keep those images separate from non-adult images they also want indexed — and use robots.txt and .htaccess files to secure sensitive or other directories you do not want indexed.

If you haven't tried to leverage GIS, or it's been some time since you revisited those efforts, now may be the time to give it a try and to boost your bottom line.