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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Google Adsense Secret and Tricks

General or Niche
You can build your website around general topics or niche ones. Generally speaking niche websites work better with adsense. First off the ad targeting is much better. Secondly as you have a narrow focus your writing naturally becomes more expert in nature. Hopefully this makes you more authority in your field. If this is your first try at building an adsense website, make it about something you enjoy. It will make the process much easier and less painful to accomplish. You should however make sure that your topic has enough of an ad inventory and the payout is at a level you are comfortable with. You may love medieval folk dancing, but the pool of advertisers for that subject is very small (in fact it’s currently zero).
Once you’ve gotten the hang of how Adsense works on a website, you are going to want to dabble in some high paying keywords, you may even be tempted to buy a high paying keyword list. This does come with some dangers. First off the level of fraud is much higher on the big money terms. Secondly there is a distortion of the supply and demand relationship for these terms. Everyone wants ads on their website that make $35 or more a click, however the number of advertisers who are willing to pay that much is pretty limited. Additionally the competition for that traffic is going to be stiff. So, don’t try to run with the big dogs if you can’t keep up. If you have to ask if you’re a big dog, then chances are, you’re not. I have used a high dollar keywords report from and was pleased with my results (see cash keywords free offer recap).
New Sites, Files and Maintenance
When you’re building a new site don’t put adsense on it until it’s finished. In fact I’d go even farther and say don’t put adsense on it until you have built inbound links and started getting traffic. If you put up a website with “lorem ipsum” dummy or placeholder text, your adsense ads will almost certainly be off topic. This is often true for new files on existing websites, especially if the topic is new or different. It may take days or weeks for google’s media bot to come back to your page and get the ads properly targeted. TIP: If you start getting lots of traffic from a variety of IP’s you will speed this process up dramatically. I like to build my sites using include files. I put the header, footer and navigation in common files. It makes it much easier to maintain and manage. I also like to put my adsense code in include files. If I want/need to change my adsense code, it’s only one file I have to work with. TIP: I also use programming to turn the adsense on or off. I can change one global variable to true or false and my adsense ads will appear or disappear.
Managing URL’s and channels
Adsense channels is one area where it’s really easy to go overboard with stats. You can set up URL channels to compare how one website is doing to another. You can also set up sub channels for each URL. If you wanted to you do something channels like this: - 728 banner - 336 block - text link - 728 banner - image banner - 336 block - 300 block
While this is great for testing and knowing who clicks where and why, it makes your reporting a little wonky. Your total number will always be correct but when you look at your reports with a channel break down things will get displayed multiple times and not add up to correct total. Makes things pretty confusing, so decide if you really need/want that level of reporting detail. TIP: At the very least you want to know what URL is generating the income so be sure to enter distinct URL channels.
Site Design and Integration
Once you know you are going to put adsense on your website you’re going to have to consider where to put it. If this is new site it’s easier, if it’s an existing site it’s more difficult. While there are some people who will be able to do it, in most cases I’d say if you just slap the adsense code in, you’ll end up with a frankensite monster (props to Tedster of WMW for the buzzword). While every website is different, Google has published some heat maps showing the optimal locations. No surprise that the best spots are middle of the page and left hand side. Now I’ve done really well by placing it on the right, but you should know why you’re doing it that way before hand, and be prepared to change it if it doesn’t work out.
Google has also has published a list of the highest performing ad sizes:
-336×280 large rectangle
-300×250 inline rectangle
-160×600 wide skyscraper
From the sites that I run, I do really well with the 336 rectangle and 160 skyscraper. My next best performing ad size is the 728 leaderboard, I don’t really use the 300 inline rectangle too often. So really it depends on how well you integrate these into your site. Placement can have a dramatic effect on performance. TIP: When working on a new site or new layout you may want to give each location it’s own channel for a little while until you understand the users behavior. Another ‘trick’ that can increase your CTR is by blending your adsense into your body copy. For example if your body copy is black, remove the adsense border and make the title, text, and URL black.TIP: Try changing all of your page hyperlinks to a high contrast color (like dark red or a bold blue) then change the adsense title to the same color.
The one area where I’ve found blended ads don’t perform as well is forums, especially ones with a high volume of repeat members. Regular visitors develop banner blindness pretty quickly. One ‘trick’ to keep the ads from being ignored is to randomize the color and even the placement. As with any of the decisions about location, placement and color it’s a trade off. How much do you emphasize the ads without annoying your visitors. Remember it’s better to have a 1% CTR with 500 regular visitors as opposed to a 5% CTR with 50 visitors. TIP: For forums try placing the adsense ads directly above or below the the first forum thread.
Using Images
One of the latest ’secrets’ to make the rounds is using images placed directly above or below an adsense leaderboard. This has been used for a while but came out in a digital point forum thread where a member talked about quadrupling their CTR. Basically you set up the adsense code in a table with four images that line up directly with the ads. Whether or not this is deceptive is fuzzy and very subjective. Obviously four blinking arrows would be ‘enticing people to click’ and be against the adsense TOS. However placing pictures of 4 laptops over laptops ads isn’t, so use your best judgment here and look at it from the advertiser or Google’s perspective. If you have a question as to your implementation being ‘over the line’ write to adsense and ask them to take a look. As far as using the images, I’ve done it and can tell you it definitely works. You get the best results when the images ‘complete the story the ads are telling’. For example if you have ads about apple pies, use pictures of freshly baked apple pies, instead of granny smith, Macintosh, pink lady, and braeburn apples. TIP: Don’t limit yourself to using images only on that size ad unit, it works just as well with the other sizes, like the 336 rectangle.
Added:I got a little criticizm for this and rightly so, as I wasn’t specific as I could have been. Do not use very identifiable brand name or products for your images. Use generic non-specific stock images whenever possible and appropriate.
Multiple Ad Units
Another way to increase ad revenue is to use multiple ad units. According to Google’s TOS you are allowed to post up to three ad units per page. Similar to standard search results the highest paying ad units will be served first and the lowest being served last. If there is enough of an ad inventory, place all three ad units. However you should pay attention to the payouts. Current assumption is you get 60% of the revenue (on a $0.05 click you get $0.03). So if a click from the third ad unit is only paying between 3 to 5 cents you may want to omit it from your page. This is one are where giving your ad units channels does have value. If one ad unit is getting a higher percentage of click throughs you’ll want to make sure the highest paying ads are being served there. TIP:Use CSS positioning to get your highest paying ads serving in the location with the highest CTR.
Adsense in RSS
With the growth of blogs and RSS feeds you’re starting to see adsense included in the feeds now. IMHO this doesn’t work, and here’s why:
1. You only get to place one ad unit.
2. You have no control over finding the ’sweet spot’ for the ad unit.
3. The ads are usually poorly targeted (this is getting better).
4. People develop ‘banner blindness’.
I know people like being able to read full postings in their feed reader, and there are at least a dozen other reasons for full posts from pleasing your users to mobile offline computing, all of which are completely valid. However if your website depends on generating adsense revenue to survive, then bring them to the site and show them the ads there.

Google Adsense Tips

Google Adsense tips, as explained in Why are ads displayed on this site?, most of the pages on this site display text ads from Google's AdWords program. To display these ads, a site must join Google's AdSense program. Joining is free, but not all sites are eligible to join. Once you're accepted, however, it's very simple to place the ads on your pages and to start generating revenue for your site. AdSense will serve ads that are generally very relevant to the content of a particular page. Here are some tips based on my experiences so far with the AdSense program.

Google Adsense Tip #1: Don't put ads on empty pages.
When I reworked my site, I built a skeleton set of pages that had no content, just titles and some meta tags. I displayed ads on those pages, however. Although all you see are public service ads at first, the very act of displaying ads on a page causes the AdSense web crawler to quickly fetch that page for analysis. A page with good content will thus begin showing relevant paying ads fairly quickly. If you don't have any content, then, Google will have to guess as what your page is about. It may guess wrong, and so the ads that it displays may not be relevant. You'll have to wait until Google re-crawls the site for the ads to correct themselves. Here is what Google had to say when I asked them about how often the AdSense crawler updates a site.

Thank you for taking the time to update your site. New ads will start appearing on your site the next time our crawler re-indexes your site. Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to control how often our crawlers index the content on your site. Crawling is done automatically by our bots. When new pages are added to your website or introduced to the AdSense program, our crawlers will usually get to them within 30 minutes. If you make changes to a page, however, it may take up to 2 or 3 weeks before the changes are reflected in our index. Until we are able to crawl your web pages, you may notice public service ads, for which you will not receive any earnings. It's better to flesh out the page before you start displaying ads on it.
Google Adsense Tip #2: Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you're wondering about something, don't be afraid to ask Google. So far, they've always responded to my questions within a working day. There are email addresses to use, depending on the type of question,
Google Adsense Tip #3: Avoid non-English characters on English pages
This one is a bug, to be honest. My surname is French, and I prefer to write it out correctly with the accent grave on the first "e". Every page on my site would then include at least two accented letters, because my name shows up twice in the footer. On some pages my name shows up two or three more times. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue. But on some pages the presence of the accented characters is enough to cause AdSense to display non-relevant ads in French. This happens whether the browser indicates a preference for French or not. When I reported this to Google, this is the answer they gave me:

Hello Eric,
Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.
We are currently working as quickly as we can to address this problem. As soon as we have more information for you, we will email you again.
We appreciate your patience.
The Google Team
Until this is resolved, I've decided to strip out all accents except on the pages that are actually in French.
Tip #4: Check your keyword density
Although Google doesn't release exact details as to how they determine the ads to serve on a given page, they do tell us that it's the text content of the page that matters, not the meta tags. Before serving ads on a page, then, you might want to check its keyword density. A good, free tool for doing this is found here:
This lets you fine-tune the page before exposing it to the AdSense crawler.
More AdSense Tips
You can find more
AdSense tips in my Make Easy Money with Google blog. Here's the complete list so far:
AdSense Tip #5: Manage your own AdSense account
AdSense Tip #6: Carefully craft blog or forum pages
AdSense Tip #7: When NOT to use CSS
AdSense Tip #8: Access your console from alternate domains
AdSense Tip #9: Use section targeting to exclude stop/poison keywords from your content
AdSense Tip #10: Join the AdWords program
AdSense Tip #11: Plumb AdWords for keywords


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