The Perils of AdSense: You’ve got to Love Those Dating Ads
There’s no other way to describe it. There, on my website – a modest and scholarly little compilation of poetic analysis – stood a guy on an AdSense ad (who looked, by the way, eerily like Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), giving his best “come hither” gaze to all the little elementary children who would have been coming to my website to read up on William Wordsworth’s poem, “Daffodils”. For some reason, and much to my horror, Google thought my literary website was the perfect place to post an ad with the slogan “Find Lustful Singles in Your Area” accompanied by an assortment of well-fed individuals in various states of unfortunate undress. Oh, the horror, the horror…
My first content site after a year of freelance copywriting was an extremely enlightening experience. I learned the importance of careful keyword research and meticulous search engine optimization. But, to be fair, this colorful little mishap wasn’t entirely my fault. How was I supposed to know that my studious attempts to get my website’s content properly indexed on search engines would result in such a gross misunderstanding between AdSense and my meta tags?
As many of you may already know, Google employs some of the most advanced technologies in the industry of internet marketing. Whole firms of Google’s legendary pools of intellectual capital are committed to assuring that the ads on your website are high-paying, optimally converting, and, above all, contextually relevant. It’s called ‘contextual advertising’ – banner ads that appear on your website will be contextually relevant to your site’s subject matter so as to improve conversion rates and your overall advertising revenue.
Little programs called spiders will painstakingly index your website and, based on the keywords that they find there, decide which ads would be most relevant and thus perform best on your site. If your website is about pets, ads about animal grooming will appear with happy little cartoon puppies smiling gleefully at your readership. If it’s about food, ads about cook books with brilliant images of tomatoes and dark, leafy greens will wet your readership’s appetite. If you have an index of poetic analysis made up of heart-felt studies of history’s most beautiful poetry, apparently overweight, middle-aged men will imply the generosity of their endowments for the whole World Wide Web to see.
Much to my dismay, I realized that William Wordsworth was England’s father of Romantic poetry – emphasis on the keyword, “Romantic”. Apparently, thanks to the fact that all my meta descriptions and several sentences of my text were thoughtfully search engine optimized for the keywords “Romantic”, “Romanticism”, and “Romance”, Google assumed my website was the ideal spot for a few dating site ads. It was just my luck that the highest bidder on Google for those keywords that week just so happened to be the one with some of the sketchiest advertising I’ve ever seen on AdSense. Veritable droves of “lustful singles” found their images plastered beside those of Blake, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare, oblivious to the distant cries of shock and terror from all the innocent English studies schoolchildren who had only wanted to know the meaning of “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”.
I could only mourn for the little blue blips plastered across the globe in my Analytics data. I can still picture in my mind who those little dots where: innocent little Yuki in Tokyo; modest little Abdulla in Morocco; and that forlorn teacher in Minnesota who had unwittingly linked to my site so that all her trusting little fifth-graders could follow single-file into the maelstrom, unto the breach of purple mascara, heaving spandex, and orange spray-on tans.
How could this happen? Why hadn’t I known? Why didn’t I realize that a few simple keywords would unleash such hell onto the sweet, innocent minds of all those poor little academics? I can never ask for forgiveness, nor can I forgive myself. All I can do – and pray that it somehow makes up for my actions – is make sure that I never again type the word “Romantic” into the meta descriptions of any poetic analysis.