The last year has brought many significant changes to the way traffic is acquired and evaluated. In 2013 webmasters will be faced with an increasingly unfriendly search engine algorithm, the dangers of buying recycled traffic from an ecosystem that replicates clicks intentionally and unintentionally as well as much more direct competition from large well-funded companies. Many will not survive, but the rewards will likely be even greater for those who do.
Several recent changes to the Google algorithm have been specifically designed to reduce traffic to adult sites. Google has decreased the value of type-in domains as a search factor and made changes that devalue black hat SEO techniques with updates like Panda and Penguin. Now Google is going a step further and classifying porn sites differently than non-porn sites to reduce ancillary traffic for searches that may not specifically be aimed at XXX content, but would have lead to pornsites in the past.
As monetization becomes more difficult and traffic sources require more effort to extract, the pie will continue to shrink, but not nearly as fast as the number of webmasters dying off.
The primary impact of the change is that searches for terms like “breast,” “pussy,” “gay” or even “porn” which all used to be entirely dominated by adult site listings are now showing few if any adult content portals in the results. For sites that have worked tirelessly to rank for some of those premium terms the traffic decrease has been devastating. Now quality SEOs are working diligently to explore new ways to wring traffic out of the search engines for client sites, but the expense in terms of time and resources has definitely gone up considerably when compared to the successful schemes used years ago.
Some have predicted these changes will allow Bing to capture greater market share with a more porn-friendly search tool. Others see it as an even bigger danger since Google’s search results have reportedly been used as a factor in the Bing algorithm analysis search results as well. The most likely outcome is that porn viewers search habits will remain unchanged, and that will lead to greater retention as fans become repeat visitors to favorite tubes or other bookmarked sites, and less likely to go to Google for fresh content.
In response, many site owners are turning their attention to paid traffic buys instead, but paid traffic has its own set of hurdles webmasters must learn to overcome. Chief among them is the fact that most of the traffic being sold can be recycled several times by sellers. Popunders and other common tools may intentionally or unintentionally lead to a traffic buyer purchasing clicks from several sites (or even several sellers) while unwittingly paying for the same individual visitor several times with no way to track it. Add in the trickery and unscrupulous business practices that have long been a part of the clicks-for-sale ecosystem and you might end up paying a very high price for a relatively tiny number of worthwhile leads. Making matters even worse, poor quality paid traffic with low time on site and bad bounce rates further harms the buyer’s site by making it less attractive to engines for organic traffic as well.
There are definitely ways to get large amounts of high quality adult traffic today and anyone who is screaming ‘the sky is falling’ is someone who simply hasn’t figure out useful new tactics that work. However, the days of just throwing up a new domain with a $50 investment, while working a few hours a month as the checks roll in, are gone forever. These days there are only a fraction of the webmasters there once were, and now the best of them are competing with each other constantly.
As monetization becomes more difficult and traffic sources require more effort to extract, the pie will continue to shrink, but not nearly as fast as the number of webmasters dying off. The result will be much bigger slices of a somewhat smaller pie for those who know how to survive and prosper.