After 10 years of running PPC ads for clients I’ve seen just about every odd thing you can image when it comes to online search queries. The one thing that always seems to pop up when you least expect it is the adult content search. Millions of businesses are online in the US – everything from local retail and service businesses to ecommerce stores, and most of them are selling something other than pornography. Yet, web searchers looking for adult content may accidentally end up on your site as a result of their search queries. When they arrive organically it isn’t a problem – these searchers will simply realize that your site doesn’t fulfill what they’re seeking and leave. However, every time they click on your paid online ads, it wastes your ad budget and skews your marketing performance metrics. Obviously, this is not ideal! To avoid paying for untargeted traffic, follow these four tested strategies:
1. Use Negative Keywords
The best way to exclude searchers looking for adult content is to use negative keywords. This proactive approach will help you to keep most searchers looking online for porn from even seeing your ads. Use common phrases like “naked” and “nude” and then build out the list from there with any other non-PG terms that you can brainstorm.
2. Research Oddball Keywords
Test underperforming keywords to see why they’re falling short of their better-performing counterparts. Any keywords with exceptionally low CTRs (Click-Through-Rates) or conversion rates should get a second look. It’s possible that these keyword phrases are attracting the wrong kind of traffic. Open an incognito browser (especially if you’re at work!) and search for each term to determine whether they’re bringing up adult content. It’s very possible that these keywords could have alternate meanings than what you intended. If nothing else, you will have devoted a little extra time to your keywords that are falling short of expectations, and that’s never a bad thing!
It may sound silly, but I will sometimes even search for these terms on Urban Dictionary to see if they have a slang meaning that I’m not aware of… you’ll be surprised what you might find when you dig a little deeper.
3. Mine Search Queries
Going through your search queries is your next line of defense when it comes to wasting your ad spend budget on pornographic searches. This reactive approach won’t help you recoup money that you’ve already lost on adult searches, but it’ll allow you to avoid wasting money in the future on those same searches. Comb through searches looking for anything that isn’t related to what you sell (pornographic or otherwise) and exclude those terms from your PPC efforts by turning them into negative keywords.
Keep in mind that the best way to add these negative keywords is not to exclude the full phrase, but rather the single word (or shortened phrase) that makes the query unrelated. For instance, if you sell workout DVDs, and you see “sexy women in workout DVDs” in your search queries, simply add “sexy” to your negative keywords so that you can cast a much wider net of searches to exclude.
4. Use Logic
This last tip is kind of tricky, but it involves logically thinking through search intent when evaluating existing keywords and search queries. There are plenty of words that aren’t overtly related to adult content on the surface, but when you think about how they’d be used, you can infer that they’d be included in adult-related searches. For instance, if you sell women’s lingerie excluding keywords like “wearing” allows you to avoid searches for things like “beautiful models wearing lingerie” which is most likely a search that someone would do if they were looking for images/videos rather than shopping online for a significant other.
So, there you have it. I could have used a ton more examples and gone into much more detail, but I wanted to keep this article as PG-rated as possible so that it was a legitimate resource and not just a repository of dirty searches I’ve seen online. (Trust me, I’ve seen everything!) Hopefully now you feel equipped to stem the tide of adult-related searches bringing paid traffic to your site. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me directly!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!