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February 15, 2007

How I’ve increased Adsense earnings by 50%

I’m not a huge Adsense earner, but at the beginning of this month I decided to more aggressively try to increase my revenues.

I’ve now seen a 50+% increase in my Adsense earnings since I began.

What does that mean in real terms? It means my earnings would now comfortably pay off the monthly mortgage repayments on a detached 4-bedroom house in the UK.

I had the basics set up - trying to blend in the ads to look like content, and I had also tried to set up ads in heatspots, ie, where visitors were most likely to look. Of course, the sites were always search engine friendly were possible to help capture traffic from Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.

The improvements I made were as follows:

Ads format

According to a rep at Adsense I spoke with, the most demanded ad format by advertisers is the 300×250 rectangle. This is especially as Adsense are pushing Flash video ads in this format.

The 336×280 and 160×600 rectangles are also suggested to have the strongest clickthrough rates.

Trouble is, while the larger rectangles are fine for “spammy” sites, they can be difficult to add to a quality content site without diminishing the content. It’s also quite a chunk of space that can be difficult to work within a template, yet remain visible.

What I’ve therefore done is push the 160×600 format to the left or right of main content on news sites.

However, for my forums with the highest traffic, I’ve now set up conditionals to display different ad formats for members and for guests. The members get the normal unobstrusive long header ads - the guests get two big rectangles.

If you want to know how to do this in vbulletin, just do the following:

if condition=”$show['guest']”
BIG RECTANGLES!
/if

if condition=”$bbuserinfo[userid]”
little ad
/if

Ad Placements

Google recently introduced the Ads Placement feature, which allows you to put more information up on some of your channels.

The Adsense rep also recommended that I state the ad format used and placement (ie, Above The Fold).

I’ve also added appropriate descriptions and keywords for these.

Now, Google do supply stats on earnings via site targeting - under channels, click on your site, then click on the “7-day earnings” link. This takes you to a familiar breakdown of stats for your channel - but includes a new section for site targeted revenue.

There’s also an additional option to view stats by Page, Ad Type, or Individual Ad, and see these by sitematch vs contextual, or both.

Promotion & Development

My web publishing strategy has increasingly focused on developing decent quality content, and especially focused on forums and news sites.

I’ve identified the strongest sites and invested in giving them better content. I’ve also given these big redesigns to encourage repeat visitors. Repeat visitors = more traffic = increased earnings.

Once I redesigned these sites I set up a round of link buying. There’s been no Google Bombing involved, and no high PR link purchases.

The aim has been simply to help the overall linkage of these sites, on the grounds that better linked sites rank a little better. Better rankings = more traffic = increased revenues.

Identifying most profitable keywords

The stats in Google provide eCPM figures, but curiously, no info on average revenues per click, per site/channel, etc.

If you run multiple sites you may be able to see at a glance which sites have the highest revenues, and also which generate the highest revenues for the fewest clicks.

What I’ve done is download one month’s channel stats in CSV format, imported them into Excel, and then created a new column of revenues divided by clicks for each site/channel.

From this I can idenitify which sites currently run the most profitable clicks on a median average - and that these are the sites to focus development & promotion with.

Experimentation

I’ve read plenty about experimentation with Adsense to see which format and placement area works most profitably. Unfortunately, I had never really made much effort here, so now I’m making up for lost time.

Aside from setting up different ad formats for different sites, I’m also experimenting with new colours. For example, rather than blend in ads with the site, why not makes the ads the most colour contrasted feature on the page, in order to draw visitor attention there more quickly?

I’ve also found location and proximity to other ads can create unexpected results. For example, on one forum, I found running Adsense underneath a banner for Amazon increased revenues markably. I have no idea if the Amazon banner helped with contextual targeting, or whether user attention was drawn to the banner first, generating more attention to the Adsense. However, running Adsense alone saw clickthroughs and revenues drop significantly.

So now I’m making a point of selecting a couple of sites each week, and simply making a single change - such as ad format type, colour, or location - and leaving them for a week. Then I review whether I need to continue further testing, and which strategy worked best.

New sites

I experienced a big drop in Adsense revenues towards the end of 2005. I figured a key reason was the poor quality of my content, especially vulnerable to duplicate filters at Google.

So now when I build new sites, I try to ensure I’m looking at long-term revenue potential.

That means not simply trying to ensure good content and good links, but it also means looking at which site topic areas traditionally give the better payout per click.

Obviously, lots of other people are probably trying to do the same, so rather than repeat topic areas of existing sites, I’m trying to cover related topic areas, and similar niches.

Again, it remains a process of experimentation - some of the newer sites have poor clickthrough rates and revenues, but the ones that show early promise are immediately marked for more aggressive development and promotion.

Overall

Overall, my experience with Adsense over the past couple of years has been variable, but I’m pushing harder to make Adsense a larger percentage of my income via long-term publishing goals.

I’ve also found myself being pushed to create better content, and explore more topic areas in website development.

However, the key lesson I’ve learned is that experimentation is a major factor in revenues, and that using past performance data via the Adsense reporting tool, is a vital resource for selecting keyword areas to progress with, ad formats to use, and ad placement factors.

All in all, I want visitors to come to my websites and enjoy the experience of them. However, for the traffic that is going to leave anyway, I’m constantly looking at more attractive options to earn from them.

So far applying the above strategies appears to be working - having run calculations on mid-February’s performance vs mid-January, my clickthroughs are up 66%, and my revenues up by 52.3%.



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12 Comments »
  1. [...] Re: How do you earn from Blogs? My own tips on Adsense: Brian’s Business Blog How I’ve increased Adsense earnings by 50% [...]

    Pingback by How do you earn from Blogs? - Web Hosting World forums — February 15, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  2. 350×250 size doesn’t exit, or am I mistaken ?

    great article btw.

    Comment by paul — February 15, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

  3. My bad - you’re right - I meant 300×250. Now edited. :)

    Comment by Brian Turner — February 15, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  4. Do you own a detached 4 bedroom house, or was that hypothetical?

    :)

    Comment by Bulbboy — February 19, 2007 @ 6:07 am

  5. Not a hypothetical. It’s my first home and comes with a scary mortgage. :)

    Something I didn’t mention as well is how the longtail appears in my earnings - a couple of really strong earners, dropping down to lots of really weak earning sites…

    Comment by Brian Turner — February 19, 2007 @ 8:46 am

  6. [...] It’s getting frustrating to see some of my key authority/content sites getting low payment rates of $0.03-$0.30 per click, but if you follow some basic Adsense optimising tips, you can help leverage your content better. [...]

    Pingback by Brian Turner’s Business Blog » Google Adsense changes format — April 9, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

  7. Another great thing to check with adsense - which sounds really silly - is the colors.

    I found that ads with blue color (#0000FF) have higher CTRs than the rest, and this works to almost every template.

    Comment by Payment Blogger — May 11, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  8. I’m curious - do you mean the link text, or the backgound?

    Certainly I’ve tried to keep to the blue link colours as this is what people are more used to, but I’ve found strongly coloured background don’t particularly work well.

    Comment by Brian Turner — May 11, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

  9. The paying off your mortgage claim seems mental to me. I’d never have thought adsense could earn so much.

    Well done. I’m off to have a think about what I’m doing wrong.

    Comment by Irish gift shop — August 14, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

  10. What people always need to bear in mind is the costs of content development and promotion - it’s not so much the income but the actual profit you need to bear in mind. :)

    Comment by Brian Turner — August 14, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  11. These are some good tips - I’m already using the 300×250 rectangle for my posts at Karlonia.com that are receiving significant traffic.

    Meanwhile, my AdSense earnings were down somewhat for November. I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s the holiday season or the slow economy. I hope it picks up soon because I was getting close to the $100/month mark.

    Comment by Karlonia — December 4, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  12. … I was asked what the sum of 9+1 was and apparently I did not pass math… gone are the 40 or 50 words I wrote… frustrating as I entered 10. Tell me this is incorrect…

    Comment by Big Bear — December 31, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

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