porm_seo_search

Why Are Tube Sites Suddenly Filled With… Porm?

To some, ‘porm’ is an innocent typo wrought by clumsy sausage fingers on a sticky keyboard. To others, it’s all part of the (horny) plan.

There’s a very good chance that if you have a couple of fingers, you’ve used them to make a couple hundred thousand typos. We make them all the time; whether it’s KFC advertising a $3.99 “loaded bowel” on their marquee or you texting “See you in a sex!” to your FUCKING DAD, typos are an omnipresent and inescapable part of contemporary life.

But sometimes, a typo has extreme consequences. In 1962, a missing hyphen caused a Venus-bound space probe launched by NASA to explode just minutes after takeoff, and a few decades later, a travel agency famously lost 80 percent of its customers after advertising “erotic” destinations instead of “exotic” ones in the Yellow Pages (which it later sued for $10 million). 

“Porm” is one of those typos. A seemingly minor error made when you’re “trying to search for ‘porn’ but suck dick at typing” — thanks, Urban Dictionary — porm is actually a gateway into a little-known internet world, one that calls into question not only the typographical ability of its community, but the meaning of porn as a whole. 

Chances are, you already know porm. You may have encountered it in the wild when an errant slip of the fingers catapulted what was intended to be a perfectly wholesome tweet, Google search or Quora question into accidentally X-rated territory.

Or, you may have fallen prey to porm yourself, thrust into its clutches when, for whatever reason, the clouds parted and the angry gods forced your fingers away from the “n” button and toward the “m.” 

 

According to Urban Dictionary, porm can also mean “porn made on prom night,” a “smutty poem” or a “warm fruit grown in Nicaragua” believed by locals to be “Jesus’ favorite” (though I doubt that’s what you meant when you typed “big dick bukkake porm” into Google). 

But while porm is a term with many meanings, it also appears to be one with a growing fan club. According to Google Trends, searches for porm have been steadily increasing over the past five years. This has been especially true in the U.S., U.K. and India, all of which share similarly organized keyboards with their “n” and “m” buttons placed dangerously close together. 

Meanwhile, on Pornhub, “porm” is seemingly the most commonly misspelled word entered into the website’s search bar (or at least it was in 2017). A visit to the site’s porm offerings reveals thousands of videos just waiting to be mistakenly masturbated to, with titles such as “Liv Wilde’s first ever porm,” “Goodass porm” and “DON’T WORRY I WILL LICK IT JUST A LITTLE BIT,” the latter of which doesn’t include “porm” in the title, but definitely does in the tags. 

The most popular porm video on Pornhub — posted by an anonymous user — features a “girl too pretty for porm” having well-lit, cowgirl sex with a guy who is too lazy to move. Clocking in at 1.2 million views, it’s far less popular than the exact same video posted with “porn” spelled correctly in the title. But if you came to Pornhub to jack it and this video is where you’ve found yourself, there’s no sense in correcting the error. As they say in Babe, everyone’s favorite movie about a precocious, attention-seeking pig, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

But while the vast majority of porm searches are likely accidental, there’s also some evidence that people are not only searching for it intentionally, but profiting off of other people’s typing mistakes (or trying to, at least). 

According to Geoffrey Celen, a pornography expert and founder of the smut-ranking site ThePornDude.com, we know this because more people appear to be searching for it, but also because their searches seem to circumvent the multiple levels of auto-correct that most mainstream search engines have in place. For example: If you type “porm” into the Google search bar, a litany of far more redeeming options like “poem about life” and “portmanteau” appear for you to click on, but the fact that people are ignoring these auto-suggestions and going straight for the presumed typo indicates that they’re not just making horny mistakes; they’re looking for something in particular. 

Yet a specific search for porm makes little sense once you know what it actually is. If you’ll direct your attention back to Pornhub — the internet’s #1 purveyor of “porm” — you’ll notice that the search term brings up a smattering of generic videos that have absolutely no distinguishing features or relation to each other whatsoever. “Every site fills the ‘porm’ results with the same mixed bag of random teen lesbians, dorm room threesomes and interracial BBC blowjobs,” says Celen, explaining that the results are just as broad as they’d be if you searched for “porn.” This is because porm isn’t an actual category or type of porn at all — it’s just an incidental grouping of videos uploaded by sausage-fingered horn-dogs who didn’t bother to spell-check their titles or tags. 

On one hand you’ve got porn videos that depict Asian MILFs having hardcore anal gangbangs,” he says. “Contrast those with the modern generation of porm vidoes, which often contain explicit scenes of Asian NILFs doing groop sex in buthole.” Sure, one’s spelled right and one’s spelled wrong, but the error has no consequence — no matter what deformed variation of the search term you enter, Celen says the auto-correct on the porn site’s backend is likely to hit you with the same results and you’ll find what you’re looking for either way. 

In fact, the two terms are so interchangeable that even he has difficulty picking them apart. “Honestly,” he says, “if there’s anything different between porn and porm, it’s that porm is more likely to be short, low-res and free.” Not that it matters. “Joe Bob at home isn’t all that concerned about the spelling, metadata or overall quality of the smut he’s posting to Pornhub,” he explains.  

So, why are people looking for it? It’s anyone’s guess right now — no one’s researching this, believe me — but Celen thinks people could be doing it to get around filters at work. If an employee using a company phone or computer searches for “porm,” their horny searches might evade detection and they might get to watch that bukkake during their lunch break after all. Aww. 

Porm could also just be one of many disfigurements of the English language that the Weird Internet uses as a self-aware trolling device because, as former MEL columnist merritt k told Deputy Editor Alana Levinson in a piece defending her grating choice to spell “titties” like “titys” (or “tiddies”) at any cost, “Destroying language is hilarious, and it’s a big part of Weird Internet garbage culture.” In the late 1990s and early aughts, says Celen, porn was often called “pr0n” for similar reasons.

To wit, there are definitely a few small-scale porm guys who are using the term just to troll us. On Pornhub, a user named Prince Harry Balls is the prime landlord of porm real estate, and though he only has about 1,000 subscribers, his videos are amongst the most “relevant” results you get when you search for the term on the site. Only, instead of posting actual porn, he usually just slaps a “porm” tag on shit like this:

And this:

This, he says, is a stone-cold tactic. “I just did it because it’s a common spelling error,” he writes over Pornhub DM. “I get extra views using words like ‘porm’ or ‘pron.’ I didn’t do it to signal anyone; I just did it in hopes of making more money on people’s spelling mistakes.”

So far, he’s made $3.55. 

Other porm purveyors probably make much more. Many well-established porn sites such as XNXX create entire fake websites with porm-themed URLs designed to lure in shitty typers and capitalize on their mistakes. If you visit porm.click — the fourth highest-ranking Google result for porm — you’ll be whisked off to what looks like a totally legit tube site, but then immediately be redirected to XNXX when you click a video. Pornhub pulls the same stunt, only in a slightly different way: When you type “Pormhub” into the URL bar, you’re automatically redirected to Pornhub with no imposter website in between. Erstwhile, ponhub.com (a typo by omission) redirects to Chaturbate.

This is actually a well-known practice called “typosquatting” or “URL jacking.” According to anti-virus software company McAfee, typosquatting is a “form of cybersquatting (sitting on sites under someone else’s brand or copyright) that targets internet users who incorrectly type a website address into their web browser (e.g., ‘Gooogle.com’ instead of ‘Google.com’).” When users make a typo in the URL or search engine search bar, they may be led to an alternative website. Sometimes, hackers typosquat for malicious purposes, but more often, perfectly reputable companies do it to protect their business, or scrounge up more of it. 

Google, for example, owns the domains for its name spelled with one, two and three Os (the URL with four Os directs to a weird back pain website). This practice is hugely common; according to Sophos, a British security software and hardware company, over 80 percent of all possible one-character variants of Facebook, Google and Apple are registered, either by the companies themselves or by suckerfish types looking to profit off their household names. And profit they do: according to the New Scientist, Google earned almost $500 million in 2010 thanks to typos that landed its users onto bogus websites on which it hosted ads. 

Porn sites are no different, though it’s difficult to know how much they’re profiting off typos like “porm” or how ingrained of a practice it is because none would talk to me. “[They] are well aware that their users aren’t always in the right state of mind to type carefully, and they’re pretty good at brand protection,” says Greg Pollock, VP of the security services company UpGuard. “And porm is big! As a result, the major porn brands have taken protective measures with registering domains.” 

That said, Celen doesn’t think porn sites are capitalizing off porm-like typos as much as they probably used to be. “For one thing, there are multiple layers of auto-correct getting in the way of the letters even reaching the internet in that configuration,” he says. “The giant computer-brain housed at Google is also a lot smarter about how it sorts information than it used to be, so it’s much harder to trick your way to the top of the search results.” In other words, Google’s algorithms knows you probably meant “big dick bukkake porn,” so it’s going to nudge you in that direction for the street cred of being able to read your mind. 

In essence, then, today’s search algorithms tell you what they want you to search for. 

That’s got to be frustrating — and even a bit Big Brother-y — for anyone in earnest search of the shorter, shittier porm of their dreams, but for most of us, the two are interchangeable enough for it not to matter. After all, what is porn, anyway? Anyone, anywhere can get off to anything whether it has a heartbeat or not, so if arousal stimuli aren’t to be limited by sentience, why limit them to something as trivial spelling? 

Just like Krystina, Christina, Kristina, Chrystyna and Krissteenuh are different makes of the same human model, so too are porn and porm; the black-and-white swirly things in the ying-yang of floppity online flesh.