Google Tackles Tubes, Penalizes Affiliates

Stephen Yagielowicz

For many adult webmasters who thought they were playing by the rules, a rude awakening has left them thinking that Google doesn’t seem to care about their plight.

While the search giant may indeed care less about the fortunes of adult site operators, it has recently shown that it does care about their outdated business models.

Our quality guidelines warn against running a site with thin or scraped content without adding substantial added value to the user. -Chris Nelson of Google's Search Quality Team.

Posting on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog earlier this year, On Google’s webmaster blog, Chris Nelson of the search giant’s search quality team discussed misuse of affiliate programs and advised webmasters to always provide “added value” to their websites if they expect their sites to be found in the search giant’s listings.

“Our quality guidelines warn against running a site with thin or scraped content without adding substantial added value to the user,” Nelson says. “Recently, we’ve seen this behavior on many video sites, particularly in the adult industry, but also elsewhere.”

It is a problem that offers numerous examples throughout the porn arena.

“These sites display content provided by an affiliate program — the same content that is available across hundreds or even thousands of other sites,” Nelson added, specifically addressing the widespread practice of building tube sites populated with sponsor content, but lacking a significant portion of exclusive, “valuable” material.

Some readers will recall similar problems with white label cam sites not too long ago.

“If your site syndicates content that’s available elsewhere, a good question to ask is: ‘Does this site provide significant added benefits that would make a user want to visit this site in our search results instead of the original source of the content?’” Nelson explains. “If the answer is ‘No,’ the site may frustrate searchers and violate our quality guidelines.”

Note to those that don’t understand this: adding some unique titles or text descriptions and a snazzy theme does not qualify as “adding value.”

If you run an adult tube site using embedded videos from another tube site, or if you primarily use sponsor provided videos, you need to pay close attention to this.

You also need to realize that Google is not “favoring the pirate tubes” with this move, but is rather encouraging you to step up your game. Tough love, but there it is.

“As with any violation of our quality guidelines,” Nelson concludes, “we may take action, including removal from our index, in order to maintain the quality of our users’ search results.”

That is about as clear a statement as you can get — so no one operating such a site should express shock or dismay at their search rankings, or lack thereof.

As for what marketers can do about all this, Nelson offered some tips in response to reader comments and questions — recommending that operators approach this question from the other end, i.e. “How can I add value for my users?”

One way to add value, Nelson advises, is to create original content.

“If you’re reusing videos or images provided from another source, what can you add to your site that makes it a value add destination?” Nelson offers. “What about common features used across many similar sites that can be improved upon, [such as] tagging and curation, layouts, search, user communities [and more].”

Nelson cites the example of 10 sites that rank from 1-10 and which all scrape content while adding minimal value.

“Users habitually visit these sites because they’re familiar with them [and] over time, users begin to search for these site names directly, [so] the sites that provide the original content don’t rank as well,” Nelson explains. “If these 10 sites continue to scrape content while providing minimal value add they’re still in violation of the webmaster guidelines.”