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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

3 Google AdSense Tips to Improve Earnings and Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

Google AdSense is probably the most popular way for bloggers to monetize their blogs, but many fail to go beyond pasting in the Javascript ad code and letting things just run. This is unfortunate since they could've boosted their clickthrough rates (CTR) and blog earnings by making a few simple tweaks.

I've only recently started to run Google AdSense ads on Digital Alchemy, but have already seen how sensitive clickthroughs are to placement, color, background, and other simple factors.

Here are three tips you can get started with immediately to jump start your AdSense earnings.

1. Place ads above the fold next to the content

Make sure to place your AdSense units near rich content areas on your webpage and above the fold if possible. "Above the fold" means the area of the screen that you don't have to scroll to see.

Take a look at the heatmap to the right for an idea of where the strongest performing areas of a typical webpage are. The darker orange areas perform best. But you'll want to balance increasing CTR with the appearance of your site.

2. Implement section targeting

Don't let Google guess what content is important on your website. AdSense is a contextual advertising platform, which means Google tries to figure out what you're writing about and displays ads based on that.

Section targeting will tell Google which areas of your blog it should focus on in deciding what kind of ads to show your readers. Readers will be more likely to click on ads that are relevant to what they are reading. You'll want to section target your main blog content and tell Google to ignore parts of your blog like the sidebar, header, footer, and other less relevant content.

You can section target by enclosing the sections that contain your blog post in these tags:

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->

-----------blog post-------------

<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

For sections you want Google to ignore, use these tags:

<!-- google_ad_section_start(weight=ignore) -->

-------ignore (header, footer, sidebar, etc.)-------

<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

3. Split test ads (also called A/B testing)

Split testing is one of the most powerful ways to find strong performing ads. At its simplest, you will rotate two different ads in the same position on your webpage that only differ by one attribute.

What is an attribute? It could be the color of the ad title, the size of the ad unit, or the background color of the ad. All of these will make a difference in how readers respond to an ad.

It's important to test only one difference at a time and get enough click and impression data to make a statistically sound judgment (Which ad performed better?).

You'll want to set up two different AdSense channels to track how the two ads perform. Then paste in the codes for your two ad units into the following script:

<script type="text/javascript">
var random_number = Math.random();
if (random_number < .5){
//your first ad unit code goes here
} else {
//your second ad unit code goes here
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script>

You'll want to replace "//your first ad unit code goes here" with your first ad code and "//your second ad unit code goes here" with your second code. Only use the part of the ad code between the <script></script> tags, not the whole thing.

Get further information about the importance of A/B testing here.


Now you have three different strategies to more precisely target your AdSense ads to your blog content and increase clickthroughs.

In future posts, I'll look at how other successful blogs and websites are using AdSense to effectively boost their online earnings.

Note: you'll notice that AdSense units on Digital Alchemy are placed in precisely the wrong area according to what I've told you. Well, for one thing, it's always good to test traditional assumptions about ad placement. For another, aggressive ad placement can degrade reader experience. Always try to balance CTR and design aesthetics.


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Comment Archive

Reader Comments:

thanks for the great advice. I'm a adsense begiiner and have been looking for ways to increase my earnings.

Looking forward to more of these posts on AdSense optimization.

Stay tuned! I'm working on a post that will help you figure out optimal placement of AdSense ads.

I'm using a Wordpress plugin called Adsense Paster for the purpose of rotating Google Adsense ads on my blog. I think it's a little bit easier to maintain than using the Javascript code.

AdSense Paster looks like a much cleaner way to implement ad rotation. Too bad it doesn't work for Blogger!

hi, i tried doing the above code in blogger, but when i save it, this is the error message that comes up:

Your template could not be parsed as it is not well-formed. Please make sure all XML elements are closed properly.
XML error message: The content of elements must consist of well-formed character data or markup.

WHY?! I did all things correctly, im pretty sure of that.

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