Search Engine Optimization (SEO) For Porn Sites

Adult Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How To Do Adult Industry SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making a website more search engine friendly. This in-turn increases the search engine rankings and leads to more organic search traffic to the website. Organic (or search engine traffic) typically performs better than any other traffic source available. Once a website gets ranked, that website will generate a steady stream of organic search engine traffic as long as those rankings remain. This means that SEO is one of the most important marketing channels for any website. This is especially true for the adult industry, which is almost entirely web-based.


Need A Website? Read: How To Build A Porn Site


Important SEO Housecleaning Before We Get Started

Before we get started, there’s a couple things that should be said. First: SEO can be as basic or involved as you want to make it. Covering the basics will be effective, but going above and beyond will help even more. SEO is as involved as you want it to be, so don’t let the talk of “OG Data” and “Canonical URLs” overwhelm you and make you feel that SEO is beyond your comprehension.

It’s also important to realize that what we understand about Google (and other search engine algorithms) comes from a couple different places. This includes: Statements from Google, split A/B testing as well as in the field observations. Nobody knows the exact algorithm, therefore our understanding of it is theoretical at best. It’s also important to realize that the algorithms are changing constantly. Therefore, SEO is constantly changing and evolving and SEOs must evolve with it.


SEO Basics: Onsite and Offsite SEO

When it comes to SEO, there’s two distinct types: onsite and offsite. Onsite is mission-critical to everything (if there’s no content, you can’t rank said content) but for the really competitive keywords and search phrases, both are a requirement. As the names imply, onsite SEO takes place on the actual website and offsite SEO takes place outside the web site. Both are explained in detail below.


Onsite SEO Information

Onsite SEO deals with everything happening on the actual website. This covers everything from the actual name of the website, to the content on the website and a number of other factors such as site speed, internal linking and much more. Below is an explanation of some of the most important onsite SEO ranking factors.


Onsite SEO Ranking Factors:

The Content: The content is by far the most important part of SEO. Without the content, you’ve got nothing to actually rank. That being said; there’s a lot more to it. For example; would you prefer to try to rank a major piece of content covering a wide range of topics? Or a collection of smaller, more in-depth and niche pieces of content covering something more targeted? Either way, the actual content is by far the most important part of onsite SEO.

Site Speed: Site speed impacts search engine rankings. Outside of that, it also impacts the user experience. Optimizing site speed won’t only help your SEO, but it’ll increase the conversion rates of our website as well.

Domain Name: The domain name (website name) does impact search engine rankings. Having a keyword-rich domain name will help rank for those keywords and queries containing those keywords.

URL Structure: The keywords in the URL structure impact search engine rankings. This is a double-sided sword: You want to keep the URL structure clean and short (if nothing else, just to make it easier) but also want to have the appropriate keywords in it.

Header Text: Header text (<h1>,<h2>,<h3>, ect) impact the search engine rankings. The header text on the page should be keyword rich and prioritized. For example: There should only be one <h1> per page and that’s the most important. You can have multiple <h2> and <h3> on a page, and both should be keyword rich as well. Avoid using H1 or H2 for site-wide elements such as “Connect With Us” in a sidebar, as that will dilute the keyword rich value of the website’s header text.

Responsive Design: The majority of web browsing is now done with mobile devices and because of that, Google has implemented what they call “Mobile First Indexing”. This means that responsive design (mobile optimized websites) is an important SEO ranking factor. Outside of that, responsive design provides a better user experience for mobile browsers and will also help raise up conversions as well.

Image Optimization: There’s multiple ways that image files impact SEO. For one, having images with keyword rich file names and alt data can give a boost to the page for those keywords. Image load time is also a factor. Having oversized images that have to be resized to load can slow down the load time. This not only negatively impacts SEO, but the user experience as well.

Internal Linking: Internal linking works a lot like backlinking (we’ll cover that in the offsite section). PageRank, which is essentially the authority of an individual web page flows from page to page through hyperlinks. The more links going to a single page, the higher that page’s authority. This is especially true if that page is being linked to from other high authority pages.

Open Graph (OG) Data: Correlation studies have shown that Open Graph Data AKA OG Data has an impact on SEO. It could be that sites leveraging OG Data are also more diligent in other webmaster aspects, thus sites with OG Data usually rank higher by default. OG Data basically indicates the social media accounts associated with the site or brand.

Website Traffic: Google has disputed that website traffic is used to determine rankings, but both in the field observations as well as split testing indicates otherwise. Whether or not it’s a ranking factor, traffic is very important and should be pursued regardless.

Page Meta Information: It’s been disputed how important the page meta is, as Google will auto-populate it when meta data isn’t provided. Whether or not meta is an important ranking factor or not, it does impact the title and description that appears in both search engine results pages as well as on social media shares. Having an optimized meta can increase click-through rate which impacts the effectiveness of SEO regardless.


Offsite SEO Information

Offsite SEO refers to the optimization that occurs outside of the actual website itself. This primarily means link-building. Backlinks, or the number of links directed towards your website are one of the largest ranking signals in Google’s algorithm and therefore one of the most important aspects of SEO. There’s also social signals which is widely disputed within the SEO community, but still relevant as far as digital marketing goes, regardless.


Offsite SEO Ranking Factors:

Backlinks: Backlinks are the links going from other websites to your website. In theory; other websites are only going to link to quality websites and content. Therefore, links from other websites work as “endorsements” and can be used to determine the authority of said websites. Because of this, both the number of individual websites linking to your website, as well as the raw backlink count.

Link Quality: It’s important to realize that not all backlinks are created equal. Links from high authority sites and pages will give greater ranking boosts than links from low quality sites and pages. There are also such things as bad links. These are links from insanely spammy sites / networks that were initially used to manipulate search results through backlink count. These links used to penalize sites, but since the tactic got adopted for “Negative SEO”, Google has sense started discounting instead of demoting.

DoFollow Vs NoFollow: To make things more complicated, there are also different kinds of backlinks. Most notably DoFollow vs NoFollow. NoFollow backlinks were initially supposed to stop authority from passing from the link to the linked-to page. This was primarily to combat SEOs from spamming links for SEO purposes. Although DoFollow backlinks are more valuable, testing has demonstrated that NoFollow backlinks still do pass authority and do help boost rankings.

Anchor Text: The anchor text is the highlighted text in the hyperlink. Search engines such as Google use the words in the anchor text to help better understand the content of the linked-to page. Because of this, anchor text is a really important thing when it comes to backlinking. Be sure to include valuable keywords and search phrases when hyperlinking (opposed to something like “Click Here”) and change it up to target a more dynamic set of search phrases.

Social Signals: It’s been disputed whether or not social signals impact search engine rankings. Social signals encompass everything from follower count on the various social networks to the number of social shares going to a site or specific pages. It’s worth noting that there’s also a measurable correlation between having OG Data and better rankings, but that might just be due to the fact that sites using OG Data are usually more due diligent in many webmaster issues in general, as contrasted to those without it. Either way, having a strong social presence is good for all brands regardless of it’s impact on search engine rankings.


How Porn SEO Is Different From Mainstream

Doing SEO on a porn site is very different from mainstream SEO in a number of ways. For starters, there’s this pesky thing known as “Safe Search” that already puts adult sites at a disadvantage when compared to mainstream sites. For example; Google either “Naked” or “Lesbian”. Guaranteed it’s a bunch of mainstream sites and not adult sites, even though the intent (especially for lesbian) is probably for porn rather than something informational or newsworthy.

Add to that the fact that adult sites and companies cannot advertise on mainstream platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Not only does this negatively impact the search engine rankings from backlinks, social signals and traffic, but it also hurts the social media marketing potential of adult sites as well.

The silver lining is that we’re all working with these disadvantages. Every porn site is in the same boat and faces the same challenges. That being said; the webmasters that are best able to overcome these challenges, or succeed without the opportunities that mainstream webmasters are able to leverage, will ultimately win the adult SEO game.


Link-Building For Porn Sites

As mentioned above, link-building is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Unfortunately, porn sites don’t have as many options as mainstream sites do. Many of the mainstream social networks, forums, ect. do not allow adult content. That being said; everyone in adult is facing the same challenges, so it’s still a level playing field for all webmasters. There’s also some adult-specific networks that can be used to build backlinks. Not only do these sites provide an SEO benefit, but they’ll also drive qualified traffic. Here’s some of the places where webmasters can build backlinks to porn sites:

Adult Forums and Communities – There are many adult forums and communities out there. Some of them are broad / generic, while some of them are fetish-oriented. Not only are these sites great for driving traffic and exposure, but they also provide link-building potential as well!

Syndicated Press Releases – This tactic costs a little bit of money, but can gain a website backlinks from a wide range of websites. There’s many PR companies within the adult industry and many PR outlets. By partnering with a PR company, you can get pieces published on a wide range of sites, each with a backlink going back to your website.

Linking Multiple Sites Together – If you’re running multiple porn sites, it’s possible to link from one site to another. This can be especially effective if the sites are catering to similar fetishes. If you’re not operating multiple websites, this will not be an option.

Social Media Sites: Most of the social media sites provide indexable backlinks (usually NoFollow). Unfortunately, most of the social networks aren’t adult-friendly, but there’s still some that are. There’s also a good number of social networks dedicated specifically to the adult industry, many of which can be used to build backlinks.

Adult Industry Event Sponsorship: AVN and XBIZ may be the big ones, but it seems like there’s at least 2-3 adult industry events going on each month, and each of them have sponsorship opportunities. Event sponsors usually get a logo with a link as a result, as well as other sponsorship perks.

Start A Podcast: Podcasting is an SEO secret-sauce that surprisingly most haven’t caught on to. Maybe because starting a podcast takes a great deal of time and effort. Perhaps they’re not aware of how effective it is. Either way, podcasting does wonders for link building. When formatting a podcast, it’s possible to indicate a website link. When “feed-catchers” (podcaster talk for “podcast directories” pick up a feed, many will provide a backlink to the website address. Some will also syndicate any content in the RSS feed, meaning if links are present, those links will become backlinks.


SEO Concerns For Pay Sites / Membership Areas

Membership sites are one of the most common types of sites within the adult industry. As far as SEO is concerned, membership sites face one major issue: The bulk of the content is hidden behind a paywall. Google cannot crawl anything behind the paywall, therefore all that content provides zero SEO value at all. This can make performing SEO on pay sites both difficult and frustrating. Luckily, there are some workarounds and other ways to combat this:


SEO Challenges / Tips For Adult Pay Sites:

Scene Preview Pages: Having scene preview pages is the easiest way to combat this inconvenience. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of pay sites that will even use the same URL for both the scene preview page, as well as the actual scene page for logged-in members. This is probably the best approach for combating the membership indexing issue. Just be sure to include a decent scene description and follow all the onsite SEO best practices.

Public Model Pages: If your pay site doesn’t have model pages, complete with a bio an a list of all the scenes the performer is featured in, implement that now! And also be sure to make it something public and not hidden behind the paywall! Search queries containing performer names are very valuable and the model profile / scene pages are the easiest and best pages to rank for those queries! If you’re not making these pages as optimized as possible, you’re missing out on some great ranking potential!

Start A Blog: If your pay site isn’t already running a blog, you should start one yesterday. If all your content is hidden behind a paywall (which it shouldn’t be) the blog would be the only public-facing (and thus indexable by search engines) content on the entire site! Even if you followed the above suggestions, running a blog can still be very beneficial, both for SEO as well as for content marketing in general.


SEO Concerns For Whitelabeled Porn Sites

Whitelabels are very popular in the adult industry. A whitelabel is where someone rebrands a product or service as their own, and gets a percentage of the sales that occur on the whitelabeled version. In this case, it’s rebranding an existing website. Camming sites and dating sites are the most common whitelabels out there, but there’s also solutions offering whitelables for sex toy sites, tube sites and other types of adult sites. There’s some SEO challenges for whitelabeled sites, explained below:


SEO Challenges / Tips For Whitelabels:

Dealing With Duplicate Content: The biggest issue facing whitelabels is duplicate content. Every single whitelabel has similar (usually 100% duplicate) content, hosted on the same nameservers. This is a red-flag to Google and other search engines and the biggest issue facing webmasters running whitelabels. There are a couple solutions to this issue:

Customizing The Whitelabel: Some whitelabels allow some very robust customization, while other whitelabels only offer basic CSS changes. If the whitelabel you’re working with allows for custom text and other content, customizing this can mitigate the duplicate content issues. Keep in mind that this is a time consuming process, however.

Attaching The Whitelabel To A Brand: This isn’t actually SEOing the whitelabel, but it’s more effective than SEOing a whitelabel, given the constraints. If you’ve already got an established brand, piggybacking off the brand to drive traffic to the whitelabel can be much more effective than actually taking the time and effort to try to SEO the whitelabel. The perfect example of this is MindGeek / Pornhub and their Streamate whitelabel. MindGeek’s network of tube sites already have insane traffic and brand recognition, which drives whitelabel traffic and sales without any need to SEO the whitelabel itself.

Niche Whitelabels Vs Generic Whitelabels: Some whitelabels let webmasters get real granular about the niches and fetishes featured on the whitelabel version. Having a real niche site can make it easier to SEO. That is because the onsite content, the domain name and the backlinks being built to the whitelabeled site are all very targeted. This makes niche whitelabels way easier to SEO than generic whitelabels.

Going API Instead of Whitelabel: This isn’t an option in all circumstances, but when it’s available, there’s a huge SEO advantage of going this route. When building an API-driven site instead of a whitelabel, the webmaster has complete control over the source code. This makes onsite optimization much easier. This also eliminates the duplicate content issues, as well as the duplicate nameserver issues.

Manual Actions May Occur: There have been horror stories in the past where Google has delivered manual actions to every site in a whitelabel action. The manual actions were for ‘Pure Spam’, citing duplicate content. If it’s happened in the past, it could happen again. For that reason alone, running a whitelabel can be very risky, which is why we advised looking into API over whitelabels, if possible.

See Also: SEO Tips For Whitelabeled Porn Sites