One of the most frequent questions I’m asked here at SavvyBlogging is about optimizing AdSense accounts (most recently in this very popular blog post). And a good question it is because rarely do I run across sites that are fully optimized.
But what does that mean exactly? How do you optimize your site for Adsense? To be completely ready, you need your front end and back end working correctly. The front end being the ads, and the back end being the way those ads are tracked and reported.
Optimizing the Front End
There’s a couple hard and fast rules for optimizing the front end for Adsense. But these “rules” are only good until you start testing. Then you’ll either prove them and be happy or disprove them and feel like you’re smarter than everyone else. 🙂 You’re more than welcome to try and reinvent the wheel, but should you desire the standard, these rules are based upon thousands and thousands of pages featuring Adsense.
- Rule #1. Make sure the color and font of your AdSense links are the same as the hyperlinks on your site. (And yes, you can customize them. You don’t have to use the styles they suggest below)
- Rule #2. Place your Ads in highly visible places. That varies from site to site, but making sure readers can engage the ads above the fold AND below the fold (for the readers who scroll down) is important.
- Rule #3. Don’t disguise your ads to be anything but ads, but do try and put them near your menus and navigation.
- Ads right under the post titles make money.
- Ads between the end of the post and the comments section make money.
- Ads in the top right position of the sidebar traditionally do best
One way to tell whether you’ve got a good theme is to print out your website page, draw a line where the “fold” is and shade in any area from which you make money. If you find that your header takes up 50% of the space, reducing your header and thus “moving your sidebars” up will increase the # of ads that your readers can engage with. Some people really like their “white space” and “big headers”. If you’re one of those people, do this exercise just so you have an idea of what you’re sacrificing for beauty.
There’s nothing wrong with sacrifice, but you should at least know.
Preparing the Adsense Dashboard
Even more important than the front end is the AdSense Dashboard. You’ll never know where your ads are making money if you don’t set the ads up right in the first place. Adsense gives you what I consider to be a confusing backend to put together. In fact, I had to get help the first time I set one up.
So here’s the goal. You want to create a system so you can sort your income lots of different ways. The way you do that is with custom channels. I don’t know why they’re called channels, they should be called tags because they function the way your tags do on your site.
So, firstly (that’s such a weird sounding word) you want to set up strategic custom channels. I would suggest you create custom channels for each of the different ad sizes (300 x 250, 468 x 60, etc. . . ) to start. Then create channels for the different positions you’re going to put ads on your site (sidebar right 1, sidebar right 2, above header, top right post, etc. . . )
To help you figure out all the channels that would be useful for your site, imagine you made $10,000 and you wanted to know where it came from. You will be able to break it out by individual page so you’ll know which pages bring you the most income. Then what? Want to know whether above the fold makes the most? Create a channel (tag) called “above the fold”. How about whether you should have “300 x 250” or “200 x 200” ads. You could even create channels for ads you create that have blue links vs black links.
Then when you create the actual ads, think about where you’re going to put that ad on your site and “tag it” with every custom channel that makes sense. If it’s “above the fold”, add that one. If it’s “300×250” add that one, too. If it’s “above the header”, add that one too.
Then when we pull the reports, you’ll be able to compare all the “above the fold” ads to the “300 x 250” ads. You’ll be able to see if the blue links or the ads with black links do better. And you’ll be able to see if Sidebar Position #1 does better than Sidebar Position #2. With 200 people per day, it shouldn’t take you more than 2 weeks to increase your revenue substantially. I haven’t seen too many 100% gains but it is possible. In fact, once you know which keywords have better paying ads, wouldn’t you make it a point to create more pages with that theme?
Now, you should have both ends ready for optimization. All you need next is some focus, some attention and some testing. Watching the amount of money you make daily, it shouldn’t take too long to figure out the best set-up of ads on your site. Once you figure that out, you’ll know how much AdSense money you sacrifice for email opt-in forms, Facebook widgets, blogrolls, etc. . . You’ll also know the minimum you could accept from an outside advertiser.
With information, comes confidence.
Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.