Adult content is frowned upon in search, whether in paid, organic or social. With the big algo updates from the past few years, Google has cleaned up search, trying to get rid of spammy and low-quality content. Unfortunately, adult often falls under the low-quality classification, due to lack of textual content, crawl issues, load times and poor SEO.
Having crawled more adult sites than I can count, there is one glaring issue for porn site, paid or free — SEO invariably seems to be left to chance. Many sites have negligible onsite-meta data, not to mention quality backlinks. At first it might seem like a losing battle, but doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a detailed look at SEO in adult, and see how it can be improved.
Search is getting more sophisticated with each algorithm update, so it’s best to include a healthy selection of long-tail keywords to ensure a solid and well-placed match.
The most prominent points are:
- Quality of page
- Keywords and search query match and onsite meta
- Content and text count
- Page load time
Quality of Page
We all remember the line “content is king” from a few years ago, and even though it’s annoying, it makes sense. Since then, if content is king, quality has become the queen. A page has to be of use to users, look good, be easy to navigate, and of course on-page engagement metrics have to be good too, which explains why tube sites rank so well. Google has access to metrics on average time on page, bounce rates, conversion rates … etc. and they will be a part of page authority score. On average, bounce rates shouldn’t be over 45 percent, but best metrics for organic visits should be closer to 20-25 percent. Session duration should optimally be close to three-to-five minutes, users need to stay long enough to be curios, but not too long that they lose interest in conversion. Similarly, pages per visit, unique page views and new-vs.-returning users are all important components of ranking algorithms.
Is the site easily accessible for search bots? It might be the most obvious part, but it is also the one most often neglected. Messy URL structures are rampant in the industry, with videos, series, categories, filtering, legacy pages… etc.
Furthermore, when frontend developers are working on landing page updates, it is best practice to noindex a page to restrict crawling while it’s under construction, but with the stress of redesign, product launch, database set up and whatnots, it is sometimes forgotten to uncheck the noindex box and open the site to indexing.
There are a number of tools to keep an eye on the URL structure — Screaming Frog (www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/) or Google’s Webmaster tools, and most of the SEM tools will also track crawl status, such as MOZ Moz.com or SemRush SemRush.com. Take the time for a full crawl at least once every six months or so to get a better idea on the back-end status and directives of websites.
XML sitemaps are for bots only; they are like a prioritized roadmap to facilitate indexing. Many sites have sitemaps that are half a decade old, but more often sitemaps are missing entirely. They are simple to create with a reliable tool, which can be uploaded to Google’s cache. If a site is especially large it is possible to select the highest value or most visited pages (pulled from WBMT or GA) to create a XML sitemap in list mode. Most tools will allow the selection or deselection of images, canonicalized pages, pagination, in order to determine the complexity of the sitemap. As long as the top pages are included in the sitemap, a simple Fetch and Render will be sufficient to optimize crawl rates.
Keywords and Search Query Match and Onsite Meta-Data
Onsite SEO is so often neglected — on average, roughly 98 percent of all meta data is either missing or duplicate on porn sites — that when SEO is set up properly, SERP position will show improvement very soon. So what exactly goes into onsite meta? Keywords, titles, meta-descriptions, subheaders and text.
Keywords need to match user queries in order to get a match from a search engine. Frankly, it’s easy to optimize the hell out of a page, but if it doesn’t match the search query that users are searching for it’s useless. Before settling on a selection of keywords, it’s best to do an organic search make sure results are similar to the targeted niche. Search is getting more sophisticated with each algorithm update, so it’s best to include a healthy selection of long-tail keywords to ensure a solid and well-placed match.
Once keywords have been proven and verified for accuracy, strategic placement is the next most important part of onsite SEO. Keywords target users, but search bots will serve the page to aforementioned users. Keyword placement will indicate weight attributed to specific keywords, primary keywords go in the title, preferably in the first half, if semantically possible, also place them in subheaders, and at the beginning of any on page content. Secondary and supporting keywords go where primary can’t since they are synonyms of the primary selection. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to keyword optimisation: never (ever) sacrifice style for keyword stuffing.
Content - Duplication Issues and Text Count
On average, Google will attribute a higher value and authority to pages that contain over 1,000 words. Good luck trying to jam that into a porn page, right? Well, there are ways to make it possible without lulling users to sleep. Consider scene and video descriptions, porn star bios, footer text, in page text, sidebars; bite-sized text won’t compromise video and media integrity, and scene descriptions or porn star bios might even offer additional value to users. One word of advice, beware of creating duplicate content. Google and other major search engines are very strict when it comes to duplicate content, whether it’s automated or accidental, text, video or onsite data. In severe cases, a manual penalty could be handed out, or if the infraction is not as grave, the page could lose SERP authority very fast.
If a site doesn’t have a mobile or a responsive version, don’t even bother trying to get ranking. Seriously, just don’t. Mobile user experience is a major part of the search algorithm; a site can have the best and fastest desktop version, if the mobile is not optimal, it will negatively affect desktop ranking. Today, mobile traffic typically accounts for up to 40 percent of search traffic, with roughly 0.2 percent conversion rate on average. If overall traffic is around 100,000 visits per day, about 40,000 of them will be via mobile, that is both mobile and tablet, and with an average of 0.2 percent conversion rate translates to about 80 ecommerce transactions per day. So, having a smooth mobile experience will increase page rank, and conversions. Take into consideration that this number will only grow as people tend to use mobile devices more and more.
Page Load Times
SEO for adult is not an unattainable goal. Investing a bit of time and effort will result in measurable improvements rapidly, and in such a competitive field as porn any advantage is worth the energy. Keep optimizing and make sure to be up-to-date on recent search trends, such as learning machines and intelligent search.
Silvia B. Campbell, part of the marketing team at Gamma Entertainment, is in charge of SEO and organic acquisition for all Gamma products, including Open Life, FameDollars and BuddyProfit. She has been involved in mainstream SEO for many years prior to working in adult search engine marketing.