Unlike searching for erotic content in Google, however, Search.xxx lets users search only those sites that end in .xxx. This particular global top-level domain, just approved by ICANN in March of last year, has been designated for adult-themed content. The general public began registering .xxx TLDs for their websites in December 2011. As you might guess, ICM Registry administers the .xxx TLD.
The Search.xxx search engine differs in another important way from Google: its goal isn’t to make money with ads – not directly, anyway. The registry’s plan involves driving traffic to the search engine. When purveyors of adult content see the engine receiving lots of searchers, so the theory goes, they might become interested in buying .xxx domain names. These names, which typically go for $75 a pop, serve as ICM Registry’s main source of revenue. “The more customers we get searching Search.xxx, the more providers we will have registering,” noted Stuart Lawley, the CEO of ICM Registry.
While most of ICM Registry’s names go for a set price, about 1,000 names the company considered “high value” got held in reserve, to be sold for a correspondingly higher price. How high? Fetish.xxx fetched $300,000, while Gay.xxx brought a cool half million dollars into the company’s coffers.
Users of the Search.xxx search engine must click a button stating that they are 18 and older before proceeding to the site – standard protocol with adult sites online. Once through this barrier, searchers view a clean, Google-like interface, which they can filter by language and orientation. Those trying to practice safe surfing habits may be reassured by the notes on the bottom left stating that all XXX sites appearing in the search engine have been scanned by McAfee and labeled by MetaCert. The former presumably keeps them free of malware, while the latter allows parents to block them from their children.
Indeed, ICM Registry seems to care very much about the user experience. Lawley explained that “This is a safer, responsible environment where users aren’t subjected to potentially annoying images and offers that plague some porn portals…The site is also free of pop ups, pop unders and other unwelcome distractions. It’s just a better user experience.”
Search.xxx faces a lot of competition; a Google search on the phrase “search engine for porn” yields about 42 million hits. Still, as of yesterday afternoon, the site had received 100,000 unique visitors and fielded 500,000 search queries – not a bad start. If the site truly does offer a better, safer experience to users, word of mouth could raise those numbers over time.
For more on this, check the Huffington Post story.