Nuts and Bolts of Dating Sites — Getting Traffic

Alex Henderson

From Wikipedia to YouTube, mainstream websites have been a valuable promotional resource for many adult entertainment companies. Comprehensive biographical info on an abundance of adult companies can be found on Wikipedia; adult entrepreneurs often post nonexplicit promotional clips on YouTube. And when it comes to adult dating sites, mainstream search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing can be important ways to build traffic and attract customers.

Like any other type of adult site, adult dating sites need traffic—and that is true whether the site is trying to make money from paid memberships, advertising or a combination of the two. Millions of Internet users all over the world are using Google, Yahoo and Bing to conduct searches on adult topics, including people who use adult dating sites. Many of those Internet users know exactly what they want when it comes to adult dating. If they are interested in BDSM dating, for example, they are likely to do searches that include specific BDSM terminology (such as “femdom,” “switch,” “flogger” and “CBT”). If they are interested in gay dating, they are likely to do searches that use specific gay terms (such as “bear,” “daddy” or “twink”). And it is imperative that adult dating sites be as search engine-friendly as possible; owners of adult dating sites need to make sure that whatever specific niche, sub-niche or interest they are catering to, they can be found as easily as possible in a Google, Yahoo or Bing search.

While some dating sites are making money from a combination of advertising and paid memberships, other dating sites only offer free memberships and have a revenue model that is strictly advertising based.

Google Analytics, a free service, can be used to obtain detailed statistics about those who are visiting a dating site. Google Analytics gets very specific; the program can be used to determine how many people have been visiting a site, the specific pages they have visited on that site, the amount of time they spent on that site, and exactly how each user found his/her way to the site. That type of information is crucial to a webmaster’s SEO (search engine optimization) efforts.

Google’s AdWords is another promotional option for adult dating sites. According to Google’s website, “adult and sexual dating sites” are “allowed with limitations” by Ad-Words. Google states: “Google allows the promotion of adult and sexual dating sites. However, these ads will be given a ‘non-family safe’ or ‘adult’ status, depending on how the service is promoted.” AdWords, of course, mainly serves mainstream sites, but it can be used by some adult sites as well, including adult dating sites.

Yahoo and Bing both have their own well-known mainstream dating sites; Yahoo has Yahoo Personals, while Bing has Bing Dating. But for webmasters who are operating adult dating websites and are catering to specific niches, Yahoo and Bing are not real competitors in the dating realm, but rather, promotional avenues. Bing offers a useful service called Bing Webmaster Center; the tools offered by Bing Webmaster Center give webmasters information on, among other things, site statistics, sitemap creation and possible crawling issues (for example, 404 errors).

Yahoo, meanwhile, offers promotional services that include directory listings, search engine submission and keyword analysis. Again, SEO is the goal, and Bing Webmaster Center is an option whether the focus of a dating site is cougars and MILFs, BBWs or trannies.

While some dating sites are making money from a combination of advertising and paid memberships, other dating sites only offer free memberships and have a revenue model that is strictly advertising based. For mainstream dating sites that are getting a lot of traffic, Google’s Adsense program can be profitable. Adsense, however, is problematic for adult dating sites; Adsense has a strict policy against nudity and explicit adult content and is quick to reject dating sites that it deems to be “non-family safe.” And dating sites don’t have to be all that explicit to be rejected by Adsense. In 2010, for example, founder Claudia Opdenkelder complained about her Toronto-based dating site being rejected by Adsense.

So if an adult dating site is even remotely risqué, it runs the risk of being turned down by Adsense. And for many webmasters who operate adult dating sites, it would be counterproductive to tone down a site’s sexiness or erotic content in the hope of being accepted by Adsense. BDSM dating sites, for example, are trying to appeal to people who are into BDSM — and trying to appear less kinky or less sadomasochistic isn’t a plus if one’s target audience is hardcore BDSM daters. Adsense is hardly the only game in town when it comes to online advertising, and webmasters who have adult dating sites would be better off seeking advertising revenue from advertising programs that do not have policies prohibiting erotic content.

When it comes to using mainsteam outlets, the key for adult dating sites is to find the ways in which those outlets can be effective promotional tools but not expect them to be all things to all webmasters. YouTube doesn’t accept explicit adult content, but that doesn’t mean that YouTube cannot be used to point web surfers in the direction of porn and adult dating websites; similarly, a dating site that isn’t right for mainstream advertising programs can still take advantage of the promotional and SEO tools that mainstream search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have to offer.