The Googlebot says Comstock Films isn’t real sex (but then what does the Googlebot really know about sex?)

So what I was talking about when I said I saw some trends I didn’t understand is that about two years ago we started getting Google visitors on the search [real sex] and that was very good for our business. Visitors arriving on the search [real sex] were just as likely to return and ultimately just as likely to buy one of our DVDs as visitors arriving on the searches [comstock films] or [tony comstock].

What that means is we were catching and keeping customers who didn’t already know our name or our films. They were wandering the internet, looking for “real sex”, and when they wandered into our little corner they found something that was real enough to spend $28 on a DVD.

Then last December, it all went to shit. We and many other sexually oriented sites got caught in the gears Google’s ongoing fight against spam. Not only did we lose returns on [real sex], we lost returns on [comstock films] and nearly everything else. 

Fortunately this got written about, on Boing Boing (sorry, no link) and elsewhere. Google fixed the problems, we got our name back, and (probably) with the help of the new high-profile inbound links our traffic picked up across the board. (We picked another nice Boing mention a couple months later, which certain didn’t hurt either.)

Then sometime last Summer, things started to head South with our Google traffic. Last Fall I made a couple of posts that that crazy ol’ Googlebot was sending us more [nina hartley] visitor than [real sex] visitors, (which still going on, and just doesn’t make any sense.) But as I’ve said in other posts, we had other things going on, so beyond wishing it was different, I didn’t put much time into trying to figure out why things were the way they were.

Then we went away on a sailing adventure this last Winter, and I was putting most of my effort into making sure my family didn’t drown. Then back and the whole Google traffic thing was into the “get to it when you can” pile. Until the Xeni/Boing “unpublish” thing, and I realized that we hadn’t had those search-enhancing inbound links from Boing Boing in nearly a year.

As of July 4th, from Google’s Webmaster Tools, here is the “What the Googlebot Sees” of the keywords, both for our site content, and for inbound links. This is the best window a webmaster has into what the Googlebot thinks of your site:

In your site’s content
1. sex
2. films
3. magazine
4. comstock
5. porn
6. film
7. damon
8. love
9. june
10. art
11. people
12. erotic
13. march
14. hunter
15. matt
16. blog
17. adult
18. april
19. ashley
20. december
21. february
22. girl
23. making
24. august
25. lust
26. january
27. press
28. john
29. july
30. women
31. dax
32. november
33. eros
34. new
35. reviews
36. october
37. kisha
38. september
39. documentary
40. oprah
41. perverts
42. xana
43. jack
44. saloon
45. story
46. festival
47. marie
48. khym
49. video
50. doing
51. blue
52. google
53. andrew
54. bill
55. couples
56. dvd
57. work
58. angels
59. audacia
60. peggy
61. says
62. violet
63. bag
64. couple
65. men
66. tony
67. oflc
68. sexual
69. rating
70. feel
71. blank
72. melbourne
73. scene
74. pretty
75. movies
76. bodyglide
77. erotica
78. life
79. sullivan
80. york
81. censorship
82. erika
83. imdb
84. hardcore
85. search
86. shortbus
87. mpaa
88. destricted
89. explicit
90. camera
91. wife
92. gay
93. sexuality
94. talk
95. comstockfilms
96. underground
97. amazon
98. movie
99. pornography
100. carol
In external links to your site
1. comstock
2. films
3. tony
4. blog
5. real
6. nsfw
7. sex
8. couples
9. comstockfilms
10. com
11. ashley
12. kisha
13. artistic
14. merit
15. monday
16. morning
17. porn
18. html
19. news
20. non
21. creepy
22. and
23. the
24. people
25. life
26. 2008
27. making
28. about
29. google
30. kill
31. will
32. talk
33. feed
34. damon
35. hunter
36. context
37. here
38. podcast
39. read
40. response
41. art
42. erotic
43. this
44. business
45. comstocks
46. quote
47. love
48. subscribe
49. rss
50. homepage
51. doing
52. story
53. together
54. shop
55. 2006
56. jack
57. marie
58. from
59. erika
60. lust
61. video
62. 2007
63. film
64. hardcore
65. monster
66. aviv
67. finding
68. fit
69. his
70. how
71. main
72. meet
73. right
74. tel
75. visit
76. andrew
77. educating
78. image
79. matt
80. sullivan
81. website
82. award
83. blogosphere
84. comsto
85. enters
86. khym
87. more
88. peggy
89. way
90. winning
91. wrote
92. mpaa
93. rating
94. received
95. appears
96. feeds
97. for
98. gone
99. have
100. kicks

The thing that jumps out at me, is while [real] is the #5 keyword in inbound links to Comstock Films, and [sex] is #7 in inbounds, and #1 in our site count, [real] is nowhere to be found in the Googlebot reckoning of our site content. It’s not #1, it’s not #25, it’s not there at all. Not only doesn’t that make any sense, but it really don’t make any sense when you see some of the other keywords that the Googlebot did pick up. [June] is #9 in our site content? Okay Googlebot, if you say so…

It also probably explains why we haven’t had any visitors on the search [real sex] in many, many months.

Seth Finkelstein speculates that if there’s a link between Boing thing and the loss of of [real] in our site content keywords, that it may be in the spam-flooded world of internet sexuality, the inbound from Boing was disproportionately helpful in the “trust” aspect of Googles algorrythms; that with the high-profile inbound from Boing, the Googlebot was more likely to “trust” that we weren’t spamming or keyword stuffing on the word “real”. Or maybe it’s just a Googlebug. Or maybe it’s the algorrythm working as Google intended. Who can know?

What I do know is that the loss of [real sex] search visitors over the last year or so has hurt sales. Nothing earth-shattering on a monthly basis, but month after month after month it adds up. But like I said, we’re doing all we can to make sure that whatever does or doesn’t happen at Google, or Boing Boing or whatever can’t hurt us enough that we can’t keep making movies. 

Still, I’d like to fix it. If we got those visitors back it would make making movies easier. If we got those [real sex] visitor and those sales back,  would make taking on bigger risks with new projects a little less risky. I’d like to make those movies. I bet some of you would like to watch them.

I hope Google is listening

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 13, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you posted this because in a way it echoes my own experience. The links to my site say one thing, but Google has a distinct blind spot when it comes to certain words it sees on my site. Hence my 18 months in the wilderness at the end of the results. I may write about “porn for women” constantly, but Google is absolutely determined to ignore that fact.

    I actually am spooked by Google Analytics as my fall from grace came pretty much straight after I signed up and asked Google to look at my site. Same thing happened to 2 other ones I added. Needless to say, I haven’t volunteered any other sites.

    Like you, doing SE optimisation always on my “to do” list but the vaguaries and hocus pocus of trying to work out how to undo this Googlecurse always gets me down and I get dejected and do something else.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Save an utterly unexplainable uptick around April 17th, our google ranking stayed low throughout 2008, but our website was not especially active. But last July I noticed that although the word [real] is #5 in Google’s listing of keywords in inbound links, [real] doesn’t appear anywhere in the Googlebot’s listing for our site content keywords. That’s right, the Googlebot doesn’t see the word [real] at the home of real life, real people, real sex. [...]

  2. [...] none of this answers the question, “Why can’t the Googlebot see the word [real] in our site content keywords?” It’s ranked #5 in Google’s listing of inbound links, but conspicuously absent [...]

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