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When Your Content is Too Good
What do you do?
conroy




msg:4025891
 5:21 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have an informational site on a health topic that attracts a significant amount of organic search referrals to its many content pages. The content is extremely well written, very unique, and gives a very honest perspective on the topic.

The problem is monetizing it. The click through rate on adsense, standard blue text links to affiliate offers, or banners is incredibly low, conversions almost nonexistent. This is after all attempts at making the links look natural, making them look like blatant ads and many other things. I think I've tried near every adsense block size in every possible spot on my site. It seems the visitors are so interested in the content that they don't even see the links or adds.

This may be due to each page ranking very well for its specific phrase. In other words, people search for something specific and receive an article exactly on that topic. They seem to read the article and either read more articles on the site, or go back to their search.

What would you do?

 

LifeinAsia




msg:4025900
 5:34 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Write crappier articles to compete with all the other junk out there? :)

purplecape




msg:4025903
 5:38 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Could your problem not be that your content is too good but that the ads don't provide something that people might need to buy?

I have what I think is a good content site. I provide large amounts of useful information in a specific area. But I do get decent results from Amazon and AdSense because people ALSO need services related to my area, and reference books that go beyond what a web site can provide.

I think there are areas from which it's difficult to make money because all that people need in that area is some information.

S0....if that's the case, then it just doesn't matter what you do wiht your ads, as you've discovered. Maybe you need to change how you approach your content. And I don't mean crap it up! Keep what you have, but start adding articles that build bridges to areas where people might be looking to or needing to make purchases. Without knowing your content, i don't know what those would areas would look like but I suspect they are there.

For example, if you had a site that provided basic how-to information for beginning photographers, you wouldn't get people coming there to buy cameras. They'd already have them. But if you added a section about how to choose a camera, providing guidance for people with different needs, you could expect to get different visitors and different ads. And different results.

martinibuster




msg:4025959
 6:32 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

...if you had a site that provided basic how-to information for beginning photographers...

This is an interesting twist. Newbs generally need books, equipment, and supplies. Advanced visitors generally do not. Articles focused on newbs tend to result in higher clicks/conversions, in my experience.

weeks




msg:4026020
 7:29 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Who are the big players, the deep pockets, in the area of heath you are in? They want to be BRANDED with first-rate editorial.

Branding is difficult to explain. Companies want their buyers to see their name in context with positive, first-rate editorial to create a leadership position.

It can be awkward. I once had an animal health publication that was very popular. Our prime ads, however, came from a firm that has a poor project. They were losing market share and they wanted to link to us to recover it. But, our editorial said their product stank. They pulled their ads, $145,000 worth. (This was a major international drug firm, too.)

So, do a careful analysis of the products and approach them with a unique position on your web site. If you haven't installed an Ad Manager to handle custom ads, use Google or Open X.

This is getting more and more difficult to do, BTW. In the past, a web site publisher would simply get all of the publications in the industry and clip the ads that would apply. Now, however, many are not running print ads, targeting online channels or using email. Oh, and study who is running an aggressive google campaign. Sign up and read the technical newsletters, too.

hannamyluv




msg:4026030
 7:41 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have you considered display ads? The CPM is pretty low at first, but once you establish you can bring good traffic (as in displays, not traffic to their site), the CPMs can be comperable to a decent adsense CPM.

zdgn




msg:4026040
 8:01 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Write crappier articles to compete with all the other junk out there? :)

I believe there's a lot of wisdom there. :)

For years I too believed great Content would make money follow it via AdSense.

Not so.

With AdSense, if you follow the money, only then it will follow you. Many of us who started our sites way before AdSense now find ourselves 'tweaking' our content so that the AdSense bot smiles graciously on us.

Heck, now when I read some other AdSense forums where "niche" bandwagon "bloggers" claim to make a killing by chasing the AdSense ambulance, I just curse myself silently.

johnnie




msg:4026067
 8:51 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

What about opening a paid 'premium' section? If your content really is that good, I'm sure people will want to pay for it.

purplecape




msg:4026074
 9:07 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is an interesting twist. Newbs generally need books, equipment, and supplies. Advanced visitors generally do not. Articles focused on newbs tend to result in higher clicks/conversions, in my experience.

That may be true in general, but if their search is for "how to avoid over-exposing a negative" or something like that, they are not searching for a book, equipment, or supplies. They are looking for an answer to a specific technical question.

So please don't take my analogy too literally. I'm trying to get at the fact that the people coming to the OP's site are apparently not "in the market" for a product or service, because no amount of tweaking or repositioning of ads changes their reaction to them, which is to ignore them.

While my analogy may have its limits, my advice still stands--he should consider building his content in new directions.

signor_john




msg:4026076
 9:11 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

This may be due to each page ranking very well for its specific phrase. In other words, people search for something specific and receive an article exactly on that topic. They seem to read the article and either read more articles on the site, or go back to their search.

Some health topics might lend themselves to AdSense ads or even affiliate sales, but others are likely to be a bust. For example, an article on selecting home blood-pressure monitors might do well (since users are researching such devices), but an article on gall-bladder surgery probably wouldn't (since someone with a diseased gall bladder needs a doctor, not a DIY gadget).

So what do you do if you're a publisher of a site about health care (or anything else)? You publish articles on a wide range of topics, building a "best of breed" site in your field. Some of the topics will be profitable, and others will be loss leaders. At the end of the month, your total revenues (not how much you earned on any given page) are what matter.

oddsod




msg:4026100
 9:39 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

If they like your information ... sign them up for a newsletter. The money in in the list and all that.

caribguy




msg:4026112
 10:02 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

an article on gall-bladder surgery probably wouldn't
- but bridge articles to home care, assisted living, going back to work after surgery, revalidation aids etc might...
adamxcl




msg:4026137
 10:54 pm on Nov 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Over the years, pretty much every time I add something that I think is great content to an existing section, the revenue goes down. Make it more usable, revenue goes down. Make it prettier, the revenue goes down.

Just did another test on a section. Pulled some content, rolled back and made it uglier and harder to use, revenue shot up. Very frustrating.

johnnie




msg:4026229
 2:36 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I know I might be reiterating myself, but you might want to experiment with locking your very best content behind a paypal button. Make 'em pay up front. With the inevitable demise of display advertising, micropayments might well hold the key to the future.

Bennie




msg:4026243
 3:06 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Another route to consider. Use your current site as a sales funnel. Think out a few 'money' sites you could cross-promote off your current site, give them prominant positions in the right spots. Maybe health insurance quotes, *something that pays well* and allows you to focus on the money. If you build a few you can experiment, find what works and maybe even go back eventually and alter the original site. Good way to experiment.

J_RaD




msg:4026287
 4:43 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

can you create a product to sell based on your content? Should be pretty easy to create and info product to sell to your viewers.

IanCP




msg:4026297
 5:16 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hmm an interesting problem. For over a decade I have had similar sites yet I've not experienced any montising problem. Only magnitude.

I can't give you possible answers because under the circumstances we're all largely asking each other "how long is a piece of string".

I can say I am mightily surprised by your post though.

I certainly haven't seen among the suggested answers anything remotely feasible. Sorry folks, that's just the way it is.

Don't dilute your content with crap. In fact don't fool around with anything until you are absolutely certain what you are doing and why. I really mean that, I've burnt my fingers in the past.

Forget the "value added subscription" idea. I can't ever see it working except in very exceptional circumstances.

Selling product is one option but can create a lot of other unwanted headaches.

Taken entirely at face value, I must confess I didn't think I'd ever see such a post as yours. You would appear to have done everything right. In fact you seem to be everything I've ever advocated newcomers to do.

Mate, I'm truly perplexed and bewildered.

You didn't mention how many pages you have, traffic, a rough idea of AdSense CTR etc. It could be a bit of a guide for us. We're largely whistling in the dark.

Asia_Expat




msg:4026300
 5:22 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is an interesting twist. Newbs generally need books, equipment, and supplies. Advanced visitors generally do not. Articles focused on newbs tend to result in higher clicks/conversions, in my experience.

So true. I have a forum thread that has nothing to do with my niche. The title is 'Widget Maintenance for Dummies' and for some odd reason, it ranks for that phrase. It only brings a trickle of traffic but I threw up an amazon link to that particular widget and the conversion rate is 10 percent +

J_RaD




msg:4026303
 5:32 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)


Selling product is one option but can create a lot of other unwanted headaches.

like what?

Jane_Doe




msg:4026352
 7:15 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have an informational site on a health topic

Some health topics just aren't that lucrative no matter where you put the ads. People looking for health information generally just aren't in the same buying mindset as people going online with their credit cards out looking book a trip to Las Vegas with a stay at a cheap hotel.

onlineleben




msg:4026359
 7:42 am on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

When your content is as good as you say, it would be easy to create a product (ebook) from this. If it is not enough for a book, make it a special report. 5 to 10 pages of really good information, nicely formated and having some pics or diagrams in it may be enough. Just think about someone who researches a certain health condition and then finds an informative report that summarizes in a few pages what he otherwise would have to dig out from several webpages.
Make pricing so that it is easy to buy. Put buyers on a mailing list so you can contact them with updated information or presell related products.

An other option I came across recently is using paypal for donations. Combining that with something like an Y!Answers style 'Ask the Expert' category might also work (but this needs constant monitoring and answering => work).

Good luck and keep us posted on how things turn out for oyu.

Rosalind




msg:4026470
 12:15 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

If advertising isn't working, you have nothing to lose by trying out various pay-to-read options. If you have a lot of good content and a steady stream of traffic, look into packaging some of it up and selling it through a traditional dead-tree publisher. For now a paper version might well outsell an ebook, although YMMV.

You don't have anything to lose by approaching publishers and making enquiries. In this way you can use your website as a marketing asset rather than a source of revenue in its own right. When the information itself is the product people are after what else can you do but try to sell it?

onlineleben




msg:4026471
 12:25 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

selling it through a traditional dead-tree publisher

self-publshing via amazon

Other possibility would be creating an Audio-CD

mistah




msg:4026530
 1:47 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Write crappier articles to compete with all the other junk out there? :)

I met a blackhatter at one of the early Pubcons in London and he told me that his best performing sites were "designed to look like they had been written in MS Word by someone's grandad." He reckoned that when people landed on a page like that their first instinct was to click on the nearest link that would take them somewhere else.

conroy




msg:4026632
 4:08 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you everyone for your input. There have been a lot of very useful comments.

purplecape - I think you describe the current problem the best. I think you are right that they are mostly in an info gathering mindset. In other words, people would find me very much more by typing in "topic info" rather than "topic product"

hanna - Display ads? Are those from some network you sign up with?

oddsod - Yes, I've been running a newsletter signup since the beginning. Thousands and thousands of subscribers, they write back to me a lot when I send out some info and enjoy the tidbits I send, but they also will not convert on any offer.

Ian - the site is at about 100 full content pages. The site would be an excellent example of a "successful site in 12 months" based on traffic results. Adsense won't go above .8% ctr no matter where it is placed. I can literally cover the entire above the fold area in ads and still everyone apparently just scrolls down to the article. I consider this to be extremely low based on other sites' results that are similar but in other areas. Maybe others would consider this high, but this isn't forum or image traffic, rather it's just SE referrals.

The various paid info models people have suggested are interesting. There are successful ebooks in the area. The content could very easily be made into an ebook or similar. However, that would be eating my own traffic generating pages. I don't have enough content not on the site already that would be enough for someone to purchase. It's all on the site already. So I would have to remove my info which is generating traffic to sell it. I would consider doing something like this, although it's a bigger project than I would prefer to deal with, having done it in the past and knowing what it requires.

LifeinAsia




msg:4026682
 4:45 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

locking your very best content behind a paypal button

Using PayPal for content? Might as well just continue to give it away for free. You have absolutely no recourse if/when people decide they don't want to pay and just dispute the charge.

IanCP




msg:4026701
 4:56 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

like what?

Well from time to time with the inevitable down turns in the internet I have also turned my mind back to selling product.

For me that would be "back to the future" because, I did precisely that as a "bricks and mortar" business for many years in the 1970's.

For me it would entail [in my genre]:

a) A massive $$$ investment in stock - I might even continue to earn more on a net basis simply by retaining my existing investments.

b) It is not unknown in the field of electronics that stock purchased 12 months ago or, even less, to now retail today for less than you paid for it. I also have to source product internationally. From memory, I paid in the 1970's a minimum fee of $200 for each customs clearance by my agent. I think I paid the bank a minimum of $100 for letters of credit.

c) There is no great market for one single product in my genre. There is however a market for 1,000's of different product but in small quantities.

d) I need [in Australia] to register as a business. There's more than a few hours a month filing "Business Activity Statement", collecting GST if sold in Australia and detailing offset credits.

e) I'm guaranteed to have a mass of paper work I'd rather not have at age 67.

f) I need to establish a means of processing transactions which is not as fool proof as some might imagine. - see some other WebmasterWorld forums devoted to that topic.

g) Of necessity I need to be able to ship internationally. Again not without problems.

All of which, at the end of the day if I were insane enough to do it, I'd do from home servicing only Australia by mail.

I'm already depressed at the thought of it. Mr. AdSense's taxi meter never looked so attractive.

As I said before: "Selling product is one option but can create a lot of other unwanted headaches".

IanCP




msg:4026709
 5:02 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ian - the site is at about 100 full content pages. The site would be an excellent example of a "successful site in 12 months" based on traffic results. Adsense won't go above .8% ctr no matter where it is placed.

Sticky me.

extra




msg:4026901
 9:52 pm on Nov 17, 2009 (gmt 0)


Over the years, pretty much every time I add something that I think is great content to an existing section, the revenue goes down. Make it more usable, revenue goes down. Make it prettier, the revenue goes down.

Just did another test on a section. Pulled some content, rolled back and made it uglier and harder to use, revenue shot up. Very frustrating.

I think this also depends on type of readers you are addressing. I'm addressing engineers, and I discovered they prefer "white papers" without any fancy drawings, etc. I'll say they want to act as they discover something uniq, but it has to be something they discover by them self. NOT a fancy data sheet describing how to do when they want to solve a problem.

The opposite is a girl looking for a dress (I think) and want to see have this dress will be on a body.

2clean




msg:4027181
 8:52 am on Nov 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's ironic that we see the strategy of write bad content as a redirector of users to adsense in a "get me out of here" strategy as something that works.

It's also true that getting amazing quality information to rank well can be pretty tough sometimes, and then you'll find people are quite happy to come and read and leave. So, knowing that, I tend to use great contentn sites as domain indexers and value added's for clients. Some sectors are getting notoriously hard to position in using anything other than Adwords, so you have to adapt accordingly.

2Clean.

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