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no sad stories here, uplifting only
incrediBILL




msg:1383196
 10:49 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

After reading all the sad stories of late I thought I'd post something a little more encouraging.

I've only been in AdSense since last year and I must admit I was very skeptical it could earn any real money as I already had a good revenue stream from the site that I didn't want to ruin. So, I tentatively only put a few links on a few pages, waited for Google media bot to do it's thing, and VOILA! $15/day on a limited test. Not a lot of money but very encouraging for just a few pages compared to some other programs I'd tried. So I increased the spread of AdSense on my site to a few more pages and get $25/day, still nothing earth shattering but it showed promise. Then I decided to just blanket the whole site with AdSense, throw caution to the wind, and see what happened.

The site broke $1k the first month.

Made some more changes here and there and it doubled again, and I kept messing with it for 3 months and it went up and up in little baby steps and seemed to hit a peak, a threshold I couldn't get beyond.

So here I am with my site at my theoretical "peak" and reading all these tales of woe of dropping CTR and CPM and that Google must be taking a bigger slice of the pie, etc. while watching my own CTR go up while my CPM was sinking lower by the day from record highs of $7 to record lows of under $2. The earnings were holding about the same thanks to very healthy traffic and a steady CTR. I'm thinking this is as good as it's going to get and be thankful my earnings are holding out.

However, I found it hard to believe that the price of all the ads displayed on my site were just dropping to nothing so I signed up for AdWords and took a quick look at those keywords and verified that I was right, prices were still at a decent premium but I wasn't getting the targetted ads I needed. Since ADWORDS for my desired keywords still seemed to be selling at a premium and assuming Google wasn't skimming massive amounts of money all of a sudden (as all the conspiracy theorists on the boards think) I came to realize there was only ONE POSSIBLE ANSWER: my site was STILL not truly optimized for AdSense and my "peak" was merely a temporary obstruction to bigger and better things.

So starting well over a month ago I went back and did some serious re-reading starting at Google itself on their "best practices" and case studies. Then I read a bunch of articles by so-called AdSense experts on everything regarding ad positioning, colors, blending, etc., some eye-tracking articles, lots of pages of Webmaster World (of course), and some additional SEO articles. After reading for almost a solid week came up for air and started working on the site again. I must admit, the fear of making all these changes tanking the whole site and watching it all crumble did cross my mind, but I'm a gambler and throwing caution to the wind jumped in with both feet and put my site back on a positive track.

When all the new work on the site was done and everything was in place the only thing left to do was wait, watch, and hope for the best.

After watching for about 6 weeks the results are in:

- Traffic up almost 75,000 visitors (maybe 100K by EOM)
- CTR up 1% (not alot, but it all counts)
- CPM up almost double last month
- Earnings have climbed to DOUBLE last month with 3 days to spare

I attribute the 3 factors that made this transition to:

1. Tightening my keywords and refining some content to be even more relevant per page to attract the exact ads I wanted.

2. Improved a bunch of SERPs by doing #1. and thus got the 75,000 new visitors and better CTR.

3. Testing changes in number of ad units, ad positions, colors, some blending, some not, seems to have also improved CTR but there's more testing to do.

This is obviously a work in progress, but my mental state about this is much different now than it was a couple of months ago when I thought "THIS IS IT, THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS". I was wrong, flat out wrong, and all it took was mentally starting from scratch and re-evaluating everything I thought I knew about the whole process, looking at it from different angles and basically trying "ADSENSE IMPLEMENTATION 2.0" on my web site.

Hope this encourages someone else to give it a shot as I'm a firm believer you can turn the tide on your AdSense earnings if you make the right positive changes to your site.

Good Luck!

 

clearvision




msg:1383197
 11:05 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Congratulations Bill!

Just in time! I came here looking to see if others were experiencing a gusher of income or was it just me :)

I too have been optimizing pages ( especially older pages I haven't seen in a blue moon :) It seems the results has been worth it. Changes made ads more targeted which has let to increased clicks and earnings per click....doubled last month just like you!

I was also wondering if the recent dismissal of some "scrappers" has caused us to receive some of the higher paying advertisers.

Key Factors: Being sure each page is optimized!

JohnKelly




msg:1383198
 1:34 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wonderful post Bill... I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more of a response.

You've given me the incentive to re-evaulate and re-optimize my sites to see if I can reverse the downward trend also.

Thanks!

fearlessrick




msg:1383199
 2:10 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Bill,

I can certainly appreciate what you've done and what you've posted. I was in a somewhat similar situation last month, so I decided to get busy. Similar results. CTR WAY up, earnings coming along nicely and surely more to come.

I am, in a word, STOKED!

Emmett




msg:1383200
 3:13 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good to hear something positive for a change. I'm hoping to move up to bigger and better things this year. Feel free to send me all your secrets :)

incrediBILL




msg:1383201
 3:50 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Emmett,

I told you all the details, there really are no secrets.

It appears to be a continual process of test something new, validate results, then test something else until you find out what works best for your site or individual pages even.

I refined the keyword optimization even more and tinkered with the AdSense ad groups, placements, colors and blending. The most significant change appeared to be when I added a skyscraper in my left hand menu area, then 2 weeks later I blended it borderless into the same color scheme and WHOOSH! up it went.

I've yet to start ADLINK testing or including SEARCH even as I'm so narrowly focused on making just plan vanilla AdSense be all that it can be first.

no9t9




msg:1383202
 4:32 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

probably part of the reason why you've improved your CTR, etc. is because you simply made a change. Changing every now and then gets visitors to pay attention to the ads again.

Of course this depends on how much of your traffic is repeat visitors.

edd1




msg:1383203
 4:39 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Very nice post, my general experience with the internet has always been that you give freely then that leads to a lot of recieving at a later date. I'd say that's where you're heading. A lot of people don't give when it comes to advice, ideas and information and when they don't succeed they never quite seem to get it.

rbacal




msg:1383204
 4:39 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I hate to say this folks, but you are falling into the same cause-effect fallacy that the people who are complaining about falling income.

I can tell you that some of our sites have doubled their income in the month of March (compared to February), and we have done NOTHING to them at all. No change in traffic, either.

That's not to say I'm not tweaking, particularly on poorly earning areas, but when the sites I'm tweaking go up, AND the sites that haven't been touched go up, what...well...what, boys and girls, does that say to you?

Congrats all on the improvements, but be careful about those conclusions, cause the roller-coaster runs both ways.

edd1




msg:1383205
 4:41 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

p.s the one thing I would add with adsense is that perseverence seems to work so by all means test, but give things time. I've had disappointing results, panicked and changed things back and then the next time tried again and after a few weeks, everything magically improves. I think it sometimes takes a while for the right ads to kick in etc so patience can definitely pay off.

incrediBILL




msg:1383206
 4:53 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can tell you that some of our sites have doubled their income in the month of March (compared to February), and we have done NOTHING to them at all.

I would agree with you but my site was in a holding pattern with flat-lined revenues.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, the daily total earnings were as predictable as Scott Peterson being on the news. Saturday was always the worst, thus garnering the nickname Suxtoday. This month the weekends, for the first time EVER have been breaking record highs for my site as the earnings improve. I find it hard to believe such changes would happen regardless as the site was stuck in a serious but predictable rut.

martingale




msg:1383207
 5:25 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I want to say I have also had very good luck with a borderless left skyscraper. Unfortunately I don't have your traffic volumes. I have great CTR, though, so if I can get my traffic up on my site, I should do well.

As for the keyword optimization, which optimizations do you feel made the biggest difference? Did you focus each page on just one keyword? Or did you go after several keywords per page? I'm assuming you already had some basic optimizations in place (H1's, title's, etc.), so was it mostly a keyword density change you made?

Any insight on whether keywords near the AdSense ad are worth more/less than near the top of the page?

rbacal




msg:1383208
 6:11 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

IncrediBill said:

"I would agree with you but my site was in a holding pattern with flat-lined revenues. "

I know what you are saying here, but my sites were either in a stable holding pattern, OR they had dropped a lot in December or so (again without my doing anything).

There are so many "invisible" variables that contribute to income, that it's really hard to figure out what causes what. Obviously we continue to tweak, and when something appears to cause improvement we stick with it, until it doesn't any more, which happens a whole lot. Over LONG periods of time you can make better guesses.

MarkHutch




msg:1383209
 6:42 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

incrediBIL: You are doing the right thing. If more people were doing what you are, more of us that spend money on Adword would turn content ads back on. Keep up the good work and bring a few friends along with you. :)

I feel guilty having it turned off, but at present I can't make any money with it.

JamesR3




msg:1383210
 6:50 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL thanks for the positive info. I agree with your methodology and conclusions. I've been through the same basic process as you. It does work. I increased my CTR, and hence my CPM, by nearly 100% in short order. Everyone else that isn't feeling so positive: test, test, test.

incrediBILL




msg:1383211
 6:56 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

here are so many "invisible" variables that contribute to income

Agreed, there are mysterious things that happen in the SERPs and AdSense that make everything go up and down.

However, I'm a serious statistics tracker so when I make changes that could alter my SERPs I wait a few days and run WebCEO to see if I made an impact. I also watch my log file analyzer like a hawk and when traffic jumps from 12k/visitors to 18k-20k/visitors per day you notice this change as well.

Also, after Jen wisely stating "Use the channels Luke" over and over again like a Jedi teacher, I started using channels all over the place. One obvious change I made was including a new ad block and the channel is reporting that new ad alone is generating 50% of the increased income, meaning the doubling of my earnings appears to have a lot to do with this new ad block alone.

Heck, back before I really started working on optimization last year my site was only getting about 100K/visitors a month which had been status quo for over 2 years. When I started seriously working on it I bumped to 200K in 2 months (much to my surprise), then 300k a month later and now with my last round of SEO it's peaking at 400k visitors/month for March. Heck, had you told me a year ago I could bring in close to 500k/visitors a month I would've said you were nuts - now I'm thinking it's doable by July unless the rug gets yanked out from under my SERPs.

I don't think this site will ever make $500/day on it's own, but I think $300/day is very possible and that's my goal at the moment.

incrediBILL




msg:1383212
 7:21 am on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

As for the keyword optimization, which optimizations do you feel made the biggest difference? Did you focus each page on just one keyword? Or did you go after several keywords per page? I'm assuming you already had some basic optimizations in place (H1's, title's, etc.), so was it mostly a keyword density change you made?

I did a few things, mostly on a page by page basis.

One thing which sounds odd, was to increase my presence in PLURALS.

For example: "widget, widgets, widget maker, widget makers, widget seller, widget sellers"

You would be surprised ( I know I was ) that Google ranks plurals separately than the non-plural version of the keyword and most SEO's seem to ignore plurals so I was easily able to dominate plurals on my keywords. I was previously tracking about 200 SERPs and now I'm up to about 400 total with about 50% in the top 10. All are VERY specific to my topic as hard as that is to believe.

Surprisingly, my primary keyword only brings in 4% of my total traffic.

rbacal




msg:1383213
 6:12 pm on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Intellibill said (can anyone tell me how to do quotes properly here?)

"However, I'm a serious statistics tracker so when I make changes that could alter my SERPs I wait a few days and run WebCEO to see if I made an impact. I also watch my log file analyzer like a hawk and when traffic jumps from 12k/visitors to 18k-20k/visitors per day you notice this change as well."

So, you are talking about two completely different things -- optimizing for search engine rankings/traffic, and monetizing the traffic. Here's the caution. What works today in SEO can change tomorrow, resulting in traffic plummeting (I'm sure you've seen the stories of people losing 50-95% of their traffic overnight without having changed anything. Second, the only thing that counts in long term change over months and months. Third, you still can't attribute a particular result to a particular change with confidence. Example: while you were tweaking, it's possible you got linked to by one or two major sites, rocketing your sites into top ten listings. You don't know. Or the algo changed.

"Also, after Jen wisely stating "Use the channels Luke" over and over again like a Jedi teacher, I started using channels all over the place. One obvious change I made was including a new ad block and the channel is reporting that new ad alone is generating 50% of the increased income, meaning the doubling of my earnings appears to have a lot to do with this new ad block alone."

Again, you need to be careful with conclusions about cause-effect in terms of the future. For example, if you added that channel at the same time a major advertizer jumped in with high bids on that topic, and very clickable ads, you don't know if the increase is a result of the advertizer changes or your changes.

Like we, we tweak, although I've learned over bout a decade that the best tweaking has to do with actual visitor experience, but that I CAN understand. But keep in mind that what you think worked yesterday, can totally have the reverse effect in a month, and that in fact what you think worked, worked out of coincidence.

StupidScript




msg:1383214
 6:33 pm on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

rbacal, refer to the "help" link [webmasterworld.com] at the top of each page.

incrediBILL




msg:1383215
 9:39 pm on Mar 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

But keep in mind that what you think worked yesterday, can totally have the reverse effect in a month, and that in fact what you think worked, worked out of coincidence.

Well, I wrote it like I changed everything all at once but in fact I did phase in changes and wait for results with the optimizations first then the AdSense changes second. Yes, it's very possible it was all coincidence in timing but I find it very hard to believe as over the course of the last entire year that all my changes coincidentally resulted in an upsurge of 300k visitors in 12 months. My changes were designed to improve my SERPs and so far they have never failed to have some level of impact.

Likewise, when I started manipulating AdSense it was based on research that concluded with specific changes (and lots of testing) will increase CTR and CPM, etc. When I made most of the AdSense changes it started having immediate impact, some within a couple of days after return of the media bot. One specific change boosted CTR almost 50% on the spot when I uploaded it, the rest of the day's earnings doubled as a result.

You could be right, it could be all coincidence, but based on my 12 month trends of making changes and improvements follow, I think I'll opt to be optimistic it was my changes for now and not random chance.

Curiosity




msg:1383216
 12:53 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

One specific change boosted CTR almost 50% on the spot when I uploaded it, the rest of the day's earnings doubled as a result.

Whoa. Do tell?

entropicus




msg:1383217
 4:25 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

to me, it looks like there are variables and hypotheticals -- sure, but the biggie is the constant: traffic. It all comes down to traffic imho.

For a site to be bringing in several hundred $ a day, there likely, necessarily has to be 100k++ visitors a day.

For me, I am still trying to get more than 1500 visitors a day lol

rbacal




msg:1383218
 5:35 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

For a site to be bringing in several hundred $ a day, there likely, necessarily has to be 100k++ visitors a day.

That's actually not necessarily true. Obviously sheer traffic volume is a factor, but targetted traffic is important, and your site topic is going to be a HUGE determinant of your earnings.

Our sites collectively don't come close to 100k visitors (uniques) per day. I don't WANT that kind of volume unless I have enough income and the desire to run a dedicated server (I have the first, but not the second).

We do VERY well (not quite at the "several hundred dollars a day level, but not far either), and we display less than 10k google impressions per day. Obviously our CPM's are high, and not typical, but our click-thrus aren't abnormally high. And our cardinal rule is to cater to visitors and their needs in our niches with high quality content, and NOT to cater (beyond basic good web practices) to google as a search engine, OR adsense. Yes, we tweak on colors, adsense creatives, positioning, (but not that much), modernize our sites as time permits, etc.

But we aren't very typical, since we had a pre-existing business (non-internet), a large amount of intellectual property we can use, are not interested in affiliate programs much, and would still be in business (after some disruption) if the Internet disappeared tomorrow.

We're in some good niches. We existed in those niches before google started, so I can't exactly take credit for planning for adsense. I figure we've been online with websites for about ten years, or close to it.

incrediBILL




msg:1383219
 6:26 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

For a site to be bringing in several hundred $ a day, there likely, necessarily has to be 100k++ visitors a day.

I run between 10k-15k visitors a day and break $100/day easily, should be breaking $300/day - that's the goal.

I've been told some people with my traffic break $1K/day and that's not earth shattering if you think about it, with the right high paying ads, you only need to average $0.10 per visitor.

Whoa. Do tell?

I did tell - it was the blended skyscraper ad unit, doubled my $$ almost instantly.

frox




msg:1383220
 9:46 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

rbacal:

But we aren't very typical, since we had a pre-existing business (non-internet), a large amount of intellectual property we can use, are not interested in affiliate programs much, and would still be in business (after some disruption) if the Internet disappeared tomorrow.

On my much smaller scale, that's exactly what I wanted (but dared not) to say.

IP (intellectual properiy, not IP numbers) is THE ONLY DURABLE ASSET you can have on the web.

rfung




msg:1383221
 9:55 am on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can tell you that some of our sites have doubled their income in the month of March (compared to February), and we have done NOTHING to them at all. No change in traffic, either.

The focus on this issue is a few messages late, but I'd like to report I 'suffered' from this. My revenue nearly doubled for March, and now it came back down, without me doing absolutely nothing.

But, as far as 'uplifting' stories - back in Jan, (if memory serves me right), I redid my whole site, and my CTR went up 8x - from 1%-2% to 10%. So, yes I say, play around!... of course now I'm too scared to play around some more :)

All I need is traffic, and I have a money machine right there to monetize it :)

incrediBILL




msg:1383222
 4:36 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I redid my whole site, and my CTR went up 8x - from 1%-2% to 10%

I think I'd be scared silly someone was maliciously clicking if my CTR shot up that high, I only got a 1% bump.

Downside seems to be the more success I'm getting with AdSense the lower my earnings at Commission Junction, guess there is a limit to how much people are willing to click and/or the AdSense is competing with the CJ ads and winning.

sailorjwd




msg:1383223
 5:14 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just so you know it is possible... we get many $100s per day with <5000 visitors and thats after subtracting advertising costs. And on 250 page site.

incrediBILL




msg:1383224
 5:18 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

we get many $100s per day with <5000 visitors and thats after subtracting advertising costs

You're using a PPC program to drive traffic?

if you don't mind my asking, how much of the 5000 visitors are paid vs. unpaid traffic and how much are you spending to get it?

Also, do you have anything installed that can track ROI on whether the paid traffic is contributing substantially to your AdSense?

sailorjwd




msg:1383225
 5:36 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

bill,

On Feb 2 I lost my home page from google results. I don't want to do much PPC but I increased the breadth of words in the adwords campaigns because my natural visitors dropped 60% from google. (and google was 98% of visitors even though rankings are just as good in Y and M).

I shoot for about a 500% ROI, sometimes it drops to 400%. However, this doesnt count the main focus of the site which is all about getting consulting projects which is a whole nother business/issue and revenues I'm talking about don't include this full-time job.

I've spent the last 7 weeks cleaning the site of supplemental pages and re-focusing keywords on each page. As a result my free google visitors have got back to about 70% of normal. I'm looking forward to when my home page gets back in sometime in may/june.

This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59 ( [1] 2 > >
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