When a Pic Is No Longer Worth a Thousand Words

Colin Rowntree

Just when I suspected that Twitter had finally destroyed the art of writing with a maximum length of 140 abbreviated characters (117 if you include a link), in comes Google! Like the New Archangel of Arts and Letters, to make sure that to have our porn sites anywhere “findable”, we need to write a lot of words. Good, descriptive words! Multi-syllabic words! Authoritative words! Words hyperlinked to supporting evidence proving our authority on such high minded topics as describing your latest and greatest bukkake movie masterpiece! Good, solid descriptive keywords repeated just enough times to achieve the holy grail of correct density, but not repeated too many times to get penalized for keyword stuffing.

As I never seem to be able to remember how to correctly spell bukkake, while writing this article, I went over to that authoritative source of everything, Google, and typed something “sort of close” (“buhkakie?”) in hopes of the blessed oracle offering, “Did you mean bukkake? Ah! That’s how you spell it! But before leaving the search results I noticed something rather odd but pretty typical these days.

Google is slowly but surely withdrawing any keyword search data from analytics reporting.

The entire first page of results about an unusual word used to describe a group of creepy Japanese businessmen standing in a circle, penises in hand, spooging on some girl’s face, had no links to actual porn sites offering this sort of content. The results ranged from the usual top result of a “scholarly” article about the topic on Wikipedia, to some sort of Facebook page for a group called “Bukkake Moms” (sounded scary), to a not-very-yummy sounding recipe for a sushi dish named “Bukkake Udon” (which helpfully informed me that “bukkake comes from the word “bukkakeru,” or “to pour on or to throw on.” The sauce, or Mentsuyu, is poured over the noodles and then you add, or throw on, a variety of toppings.”) Well, in that way, it is sort of related to a group of men spooging on a smiling but hapless girl, but not real helpful for anyone wanting to see a porn movie of this kinky behavior.

This actually came as no surprise to me. Just recently, one of our writers did a wonderful, authoritative, keyword balanced and citation-supported piece about mainstream corporate censorship on our sexy news and information site (yes, everyone has one of these now), EroticScribes.com. She used the Google keyword search for “blowjob” and the first five pages were nothing linking to porn, but rather Wikipedia articles about the history and social ramifications of oral sex, followed by dozens of links to authoritative voices about blowjobs like Cosmo, Huffington Post, Redbook, and even Ladies Home Journal (gasp), offering up advice on how to give the perfect blowjob so your boyfriend doesn’t dump you.

So, we all being hard working and clever pornographers, most everyone I know in adult is now employing a literal army of native English speaking professional writers and bloggers to create compelling articles and content descriptions in hopes of beating out Redbook and Ladies Home Journal for organic search results for even the most offbeat and arcane sex acts. These are not your old school tube movie descriptions like “Busty MILF With Braces Getting Facial Cumshot In Wheelchair.” These are a minimum of 300-word literary gems with just the right keyword density and lots of links to similar epic poesy that can be found on the site. Complete with a 60-character custom title and 160 character custom description. And then endlessly Tweeted, posted on Reddit, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and pretty much anywhere else to get some eyeballs on it without getting banned.

Although it is somehow sad that the industry’s necessary move in this direction has probably economically decimated entire villages in the Philippines that have traditionally supplied the mini descriptions for most of the porn on the tubes, I do rather like the idea that a lot of previously unemployed English majors are getting steady work.

But wait! Just when the industry was getting better at reviving the English language and writing “War and Peace” over and over to describe our works, Google now informs us of “the next big thing”: Hummingbird.

When I first heard of this recently, my knee jerk reaction was “OH GOD. NOT ANOTHER GOOGLE IMPROVEMENT!” Like most everyone else with websites of any kind, we’ve spent a great amount of time and resources over the past years to get in line with the new Panda and Penguin algorithms by cranking out well-written, relevant verbiage for our websites, creating faux news media outlet sites that don’t use dirty words or have pictures that even slip a nipple, with the goal of creating nifty little PG-rated portals to the actual porn sites we operate. Hummingbird. Now what?

The first place I went to find out the skinny on this was Danny Sullivan’s site, SearchEngineLand.com. Danny has been around since the beginning of the Internet and has probably forgotten more about SEO than the rest of us will ever learn. He gives a nice summary as follows:

Question: What type of “new” search activity does Hummingbird help?

Answer: “Conversational search” is one of the biggest examples Google gave. People, when doing searches, may find it more useful to have a conversation. In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

After a bit more study, it became apparent that Hummingbird will have little or no effect on websites that already have good SEO practices, but its goal is to provide (or force) surfers to type longer, “conversational queries” to end up anyplace other than Wikipedia or Redbook. This also, in my humble opinion, provides Google with lots more data of what you are searching for (if you are silly enough to be logged into your Gmail account while searching) to provide you with yet more and more highly targeted ads to appeal to your specific interests. Rather than one or two word queries, the conversation query data gets right into your underpants with what you are really looking for.

I would anticipate almost immediate ad pushes to you on Gmail and Google+ if you typed in that query to include:

“279 Creepy Japanese Businessmen in your hometown want to talk to you on Match.com!”

Or ...

“Discover the holistic anti-aging benefits of facial spooge today at AARP.org!”

The benefits for Google with 12 word queries are endless!

Makes economic sense for Google, but I find it sort of creepy.

Google is starting to now remind me a bit of HAL (the “Heuristically programmed Algorithmic” computer) in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The odd but somehow pleasing irony of this is, now that Google has trained both adult and mainstream publishers to do things the way they want it done, they now are putting the matching shoe on the foot of the consumer. No more of this single word searching for you, buddy, if you ever want to find what you are looking for! If you want to find that bukkake content, you had better type in a search for “Where do I find a free bukkake movie with a group of creepy Japanese businessmen standing in a circle, penises in hand spooging on some girl’s face?” If that’s too much typing, try using the nifty new voice search function and say that to Google (it’s like Siri, but more evil). Just pretend you are Dave talking to HAL and there ya go!

Perhaps Google will also add, similar to its current “Did you mean ... ?” function for typos, the prompt “Can you be a little more specific, Dave?” Oh. And your “longtail conversational query” just went straight to the thousands of PhDs at Google to figure out how to monetize it, and the NSA to target you for an orange jump suit if they ever need to “pile on” charges. But, that’s stuff for another story ... .

Anyway, now relieved that no new huge immediate threat appeared to be in play from Hummingbird, I then spotted one that will affect all of us to some degree. Google is slowly but surely withdrawing any keyword search data from analytics reporting.

Eventually, it will likely suppress that data completely for users other than paying Adwords/Adsense customers, leaving us with our tomes of well-written, authoritative articles about porn, but with few effective ways to see which of our yummy keywords are actually providing good traffic.

Time will tell on that development, but this is probably a good time for everyone to start backing up their historic Google Analytics keyword data. And revisit Bing, which will likely become the refugee camp for publishers and surfers alike once Google has everyone thinking they have gone over the line and just pull the plug for using it.

But, still curious about this Hummingbird thing, I think my first “conversational query” to give it a test drive on Google will be “How did Dave kill off HAL 9000 in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey?’” and then find out if Google can sing the old song “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do .... “ if it ever fades to black.

As founder and CEO of Wasteland.com, the Internet’s oldest and most popular BDSM and alternative sexuality site, Colin Rowntree is a true pioneer of the online adult entertainment industry. Since launching Wasteland.com in 1994, Rowntree has developed a network of sites that encompasses the full breadth of adult business sectors, from content production and distribution to affiliate program management, mobile content delivery to transaction processing, just to name a handful.