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|Double Yer Pages, Double Yer $$? Probly not.|
AdSense Ain't a Linear Game
I was enjoying the latest thread about calculating how much AdSense money could be made [webmasterworld.com] when it occurred to me this is pretty much a FPF (Frequently Posted Fallacy), much like the recurring Search for High-Paying Keywords [webmasterworld.com]. Since I took a whack at the other one, thought I would take a whack at this one too.
One of the bad features of AdSense blinders (having Google completely separate you from the task of getting either readers or advertisers) is this familiar fallacy:
|If one page makes me $1/day, then all I have to do is come up with 999 more pages, and I'll be making $365,000/year! |
Why does this reasoning virtually always diverge so far from reality as to be useless?
- Good ol' Zipf For any website with a non-trivial number of pages, you invariably end up with a Zipf distribution of traffic (and earnings!) across your pages, which is about as far from a uniform distribution as you can get. 20% of your pages will get you about 80% of your earnings, so you end up "wasting" (assuming we ignore secondary effects) 80% of your time. Wasting 80% of the time you spent creating 10 pages is a very different feeling than wasting 80% of the time you spent creating 1,000 pages. It may become difficult to stay motivated!
Look at this another way. You have to write 10 pages to get 2 that perform significantly better than your average (keep in mind, your "average" will quite likely be closer to $.05/click than to $1/click). To get 20 good performers, figure on writing 100 pages. To get 200 good performers, yup, you need 1,000 pages. Will you really have the energy to shoot for 2,000 good performers? (Of course, this is a general rule and a general law of distribution -- please don't bother to post how your specific numbers are woohoo better or boohoo worse. The point is, if you're starting out and you believe your website is going to magically be immune to the curse of the Zipf distribution... well, I guess you can always give Amway another try after AdSense doesn't work out :-)
- You can't predict. You'll see people in this forum poring over the Overture bid tool or the AdWords SWAG tool to find the keyword X that will make them $2/click. Only to discover that keyword X actually pays you only $.05/click, while keyword Y, which you failed to really develop enough content on, is paying you $1.50/click (even though it was a keyword you never even thought to research, let alone really target).
- Things change. You'll see people yelling at Google for "ruining their business" here. For many of them, they got pretty much flat-out lucky and ranked highly for some high-paying keywords. Unfortunately, they attributed their success to just being really smart, so instead of continuing to buttress their content and spread their risk out, they just sat on it and got destroyed by the next big Google algorithm update. IOW, they had a lousy Google Stability Number [webmasterworld.com] and did nothing about it. Because things change, you have to budget for maintenance (or watch your SERPs slowly slide into oblivion as competitors smell money and put the work in to top you), and maintenance probably grows in proportion to the number of pages you have, which will surely slow down any amazing ability you have to grind out new pages at high speed.
- Traffic has limits Hey, look at me making $1/day off my Miami Musings. Hey, look at me making $2/day after I double my Miami Musings page count. Hey, how come I'm still only making $2/day even after I wrote 10 times as many Miami Musings pages? Ooops, guess there was a limit on how many people wanted to read about that.
- Ad inventory has limits Hey, look at me making $1/day off my Miami Musings. Hey, look at me making $2/day after I double my Miami Musings page count. Hey, how come I'm still only making $2/day even after I wrote 10 times as many Miami Musings pages? Ooops, turns out most of my money was coming from one advertiser, and his AdWords budget was set to $2/day.
- Self-competition Man, my Miami Musings post about the new "Miami Vice" movie is so popular, I'll create some more content on that topic. Ooops, now the traffic/clicks I was getting on that one page are effectively spread across my now multiple pages on the topic, with only a small net increase in either traffic or money. In my mania to grind out new pages on my favorite topic as fast as I could, I just ended up competing with myself.
- High velocity means lousy control As alluded to in the previous point, an ability to spit out lots of pages real fast goes right along with an inability to realize you're headed down the wrong path before you've wasted too much time. Slower content creation (which sometimes goes along with better quality content) makes it more likely you'll see that Topic X offers lousy returns before you've written 30 pages on Topic X. Also makes it more likely you'll see that you can dominate the SERPs for Topic X with just a couple of pages, so you don't waste time writing 28 more pages that essentially just cannibalize the same traffic across more pages.
On the plus side, it couldn't be easier to just take a whack at any content topic under the sun, slap AdSense on it, and see what happens. That's good, because that's just about the only way to find out how much (or little) money you can make. If you're making $20/day off your nice little 20 pages of content, and you think that means you can just add 20 more pages and make $40/day, then you're probably in for a rude surprise.
AdSense Ain't a Linear Game
|How can you squeeze a bit more revenue out of that flattened Long Tail to turn it from Waste-Of-Time into Paid-For-Itself? |
I think that depends partly on how well you know your audience, or audiences. Another part is knowing how different parts of your site perform from an income perspective. Toss in a bit of knowlege about why any page on your site is a destination page and for whom it might be a destination point and you're on your way.
Fortunately we have channels and other stats to help us sort through some of those things.
I'm building a site, a resource, not an income stream. That means I will almost certainly be building at least some pages that have almost no likelyhood of being big earners on their own. I think that's unavoidable on a site like mine. That doesn't mean those page can't or won't contribute beyond their own face value.
It might well mean that I need to pay attention to what else I put on the page besides the basic content the page was built to hold.
When it comes to advertising I want to have ads that match not only the content of the page, but the intent of the visitor.
Matching the intent of the visitor is harder to do than matching the content of the page. Adsense has enough trouble matching content, hoping it can match intent without any help is pushing your luck.
I've indicated before that I'm a big believer in directing vistors to other parts of a site when they're done on the page they originally came to see.
That's key to making these otherwise marginally profitable pages pay better. They don't actually pay all that much better, they just send folks to pages that do pay much better.
An interesting side effect of doing that is that you almost by default end up giving Adsense more specific hints about what ads you'd like to see on the original page, in doing that the page may well end up paying better on it's own.
It's a win, win deal as far as I can see.
|That's key to making these otherwise marginally profitable pages pay better. They don't actually pay all that much better, they just send folks to pages that do pay much better. |
And, just as important, they enhance the overall credibility and authority of the site, which means users are more likely to trust the ads or affiliate links on those "pages that do pay much better."
As for Ronburk's concern that the "long tail" may be stomped or or chewed off is a possibility, but--at least in my experience--the very act of having a "long tail" of pages on your topic and related subtopics will help you rank well in the search engines when you publish new pages. You could say that building the long tail helps to sustain that long tail--along with the pages that are closer to the body.
most of your pages will earn you less traffic and revenue than your per-page average.
Is statistically true and worth knowing/plotting for planning purposes but largely irrelevant. There is always a tail on the head, only one page can be the top producer. But the mass derived average is important and relevant because it can be planned for and around.
Matching the intent of the visitor is harder to do than matching the content of the page. Adsense has enough trouble matching content...
...directing vistors to other parts of a site when they're done on the page they originally came to see.
That's key to making these otherwise marginally profitable pages pay better...they just send folks to pages that do pay much better.
the very act of having a "long tail" of pages on your topic and related subtopics will help you rank well in the search engines when you publish new pages. You could say that building the long tail helps to sustain that long tail--along with the pages that are closer to the body.
* It is the gross revenue of the site, not a particular page, that is important; individual pages are important by how they complement a site's revenue plan.
* There is no need for every page to generate revenue.
* A page can drive revenue without directly generating any: increased traffic, increased SERP, guidance, etc.
* There is more to web revenue than AdSense.
* There is more to traffic generation than SEs.
Good post leading back to my original question, Do more pages make more adsense revenue. So I guess the answer is no?. But then I must be daft here, why then does Google want to gobble up those sites with an abundance of info which are really are just an abundance of pages of content. (If they could get there claws on WIKI)
Let me get it straight 'assuming all pages are of good content' If I add 100 pages of good content that might not translate into equally more income? (Equal being the fundamental term)
Understood (if thats what you are saying),we know that its not perfectly linear but it must increase! even at a decreasing rate -
BUT IT STILL TRANSLATES to more $$$. So start with 1 page - $1.00 per day, * Go to 10 pages $8.00 per day * 20 pages - $14.00 per day, so then you see an increase but at a decreasing rate.
*Page Number MUST BE POSITIVELY CORRELATED TO Adsense Revnue*
Are you saying its negatively correlated?
Your theory has much support in this forum because of emperical evidence on the part of other writers, but I also think that my theory does still hold some weight and it will be just a question of which one holds true over time.
Im an optimist and love to test my theories, some fail before they get off the ground. But I have a strong feeling that these two will not:
1. More Pages = More Google Adsense Revenue
2. SOME Traditional advertising can generate more Google Adsense Revenue for your site than getting to the top of the SERPS.
The first is already underway
The second starts in one week
Will keep the forum notified
Realistically it is almost impossible to test the first theory without doing it simultaneously with two sites. I am doing this, as I have two sites one focused on a nother Caribbean country and will give the bot a small amount of food with highly relevant info from friends I have in Trinidad. So in possibly six months will tell the tale.
[edited by: JamaicanFood at 1:47 am (utc) on Aug. 19, 2006]
|Let me get it straight 'assuming all pages are of good content' If I add 100 pages of good content that might not translate into equally more income? |
I think everyone is in agreement that more pages of "good content" will generally lead to more income. What most of us were trying to point out is that what you are proposing is not good content. You keep swapping "content" with "good content", and one is a small subset of the other.
Oh yeah, it is a lot more likely to be that one page will average $0.01/day.
Those that have considered it could certainly come up with reasons that FEWER pages could produce MORE income. There are also many reasons why adding non-producing pages could increase the income on your producing pages.
I think Jane Doe made a good point.
The problem I have with any theoretical set (say, 1,000 pages) is the assumption they are all the same, or different in some way that we are not considering in the discussion.
In that light, and going with Jane's comment, I see it like this: I have 1000 pages, performing according to the 80/20 rule. NOW I sit down to create additional content, perhaps another 200 pages. Will I just peck away, creating more like the original 1000? No. If I can, I will make another 200 pages just like the 200 that are the real performers in the first set of 1000. And so on, and so on, until I have 2000 pages.
Analysis and study are there for the taking, and you can use them to make additional content almost a sure payoff, at a higher rate than your first efforts.
|If I can, I will make another 200 pages just like the 200 that are the real performers |
You usually can't. That's the point. Pretty darn nearly the entire point.
|You usually can't. That's the point. Pretty darn nearly the entire point. |
What is true in your experience is not necessarily true for others. Making new pages isn't purely a game of chance with predictable percentage outcomes over time, like roulette.
|Will I just peck away, creating more like the original 1000? No. If I can, I will make another 200 pages just like the 200 that are the real performers in the first set of 1000. And so on, and so on, until I have 2000 pages. |
What do you mean by "just like"? The same topics? If not, what?
|Double Yer Pages, Double Yer $$? Probly not. |
Maybe not for you. For me, yes.
Based on first hand experience, all I can recommend AdSense newbies to do: Keep adding quality content. The more page impressions, the higher the chance a user will click an ad (for CPM ads, it's even better). Adding more pages did miracles for me. More pages led to more impressions, which led to more clicks -- and it was actually a "linear game". Yes, some webmasters fail -- that's life -- but don't generalize your experience.
>>>The more page impressions, the higher the chance a user will click an ad (for CPM ads, it's even better).<<<
if that were always true, forums would be earning top $$$ per unique... but they don't... and a good forum will have fresh, quality content... so it depends on your sector.
that's why you diversify into new sites and new sectors... use it to overcome seasonal earnings dips in your main sector, protect your earnings against flakey changes in google search rankings, or even look at it as a time investment in a site that you can sell later.
diversification is the key to secure investing, be it stock market or mutual funds; all big companies do it, and depending on your sector, it could give the best r.o.i. for your next 200 pages of content.
>>>Traffic exhaustion is a sign of poor planning.<<<
iamlost, your posts to this thread are pure genius... thank you so much for participating.
|>>>The more page impressions, the higher the chance a user will click an ad (for CPM ads, it's even better).<<< |
if that were always true, forums would be earning top $$$ per unique...
Nobody said that "it was always true". As I wrote, some webmasters will fail. Some won't. Such is life. The OP sounds almost like "everyone will fail". That's obviously misleading.
PS - You can't compare websites and forums easily. What holds for websites often does not hold for forums.
|that's why you diversify into new sites and new sectors... use it to overcome seasonal earnings dips in your main sector, protect your earnings against flakey changes in google search rankings, or even look at it as a time investment in a site that you can sell later. |
Maybe, if you can afford a qualified staff and have the resources to invest in developing a competitive site within each sector. But diversification within a niche that you know (and where you've established a reputation) is likely to be more cost-effective and may yield better results over the long term. As for seasonal dips and peaks, those matter only if you aren't aware of them and don't plan for them.
i agree that "everyone will fail" is wrong... for instance, if i had a european travel site, the number of relevant pages that i could put up would be endless search fodder, and your advice would be sound... but that doesn't apply to my sectors.
right now some keyword search combos bring up 3 results from two of my sites, on the first page of google search results... so adding too many pages will indeed fail in my sector.
>>>Maybe, if you can afford a qualified staff and have the resources to invest in developing a competitive site within each sector.<<<
why would you want to tackle all sectors? pick a niche where you can write pages just as easily as you do in your main niche... the production cost would be the same.
and no, planning for seasonal downturns does not make up for the lack of income during that period, and it doesn't help you when google wrecks your search rankings... that's why you diversify.
|Imagine you just wanted to surf the net 'ad-free' and it was a flat rate to access all the sites that were a member of the co-op, has nothing to do with any specific interest, it's just a universal type of subscription. |
But moany, if not most, sites aren't going to be part of the "co-op." If you're looking for reviews of a cruise on the Elbe River, you may be just as interested in John & Jane Doe's cruise diary as you are in a 500-word cruise review on a professionally-edited travel site.
The idea of a subscription "co-op" smacks of AOL (circa mid-1990s), portals (think Excite) or "networks of sites" (think About.com).
Another mistake is to assume that traffic comes from a single source.
Some articles are time sensitive and can bring a lot of traffic for a short period. Other articles perhaps don't rank that well on SERPS but they receive a link from a good source (such as a pinned thread on a popular forum). And so on...
The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes it is not only the content of the page, but the source of traffic of that page. If you try to replicate the success of your 20% most visited page, perhaps you should look on the source of traffic instead of the content.
As an example, I have a digital photography related site and I published an article related to LEGO bricks and started receiving some nice traffic from new sources that never linked to me. Trying to replicate that success doesn't mean that I should write lots of additional articles about LEGO, which is not the topic of my site. But what I should do is to try to repeat the situation of associating my main topic to different niches.
To make it short: It is not only the content you should analyze, but the source of traffic and other factors you should consider to understand why some pages are more successful than others. Then, you could write less content and spend more time marketing it.
Hope I explained myself correctly.
|it's always satisfying when a story about an esoteric subject turns out to be popular |
Many of the books I review are relatively obscure. The drawback of that is that the potential traffic is limited, but countering that is the lack of competition. There are some books for which I have the only commentary available online, with no reviews at Amazon and scholarly reviews that aren't freely accessible. With these there's not a lot of competition either for either search engine rankings or links.
It would be interesting to try to correlate page views for my reviews with Amazon sales ranks.
Sometimes writing a page about something that isn't well-known or searched for brings in a lot of visitors, at least in my case... I heard about a unique widget, interviewed someone about it and got pics, put up the page, and that one page of my site brings in a lot of traffic, mainly because people find it so interesting that they link to the page or post it in forums. It doesn't get many searches though (in fact, before I wrote about it there were no info pages online about it).
I think it pays to write the more unusual articles, it establishes your site as unique and more of a authority in your subject area. Plus it keeps people wanting to come back to read the next interesting thing you put up...
|diversification is the key to secure investing, be it stock market or mutual funds; all big companies do it, and depending on your sector, it could give the best r.o.i. for your next 200 pages of content. |
I tend to think along those lines, too. It's not for everybody, though. And I agree that it can be resource intensive, even if it's just your time, to keep many sites updated as opposed to one. Which is why I outsource tasks such as link hunting and content development.
So, this tread has evolved to represent two schools of thought on the original subject.
I don't disagree with the original post, but my earnings more than double in the time it takes me to double my pages. This is because, as my sites grow, traffic increases to the original pages even as it starts coming to the new ones.
Granted, I'm not putting these pages up overnight, and I write all original content myself, but I've definitely seen a compounding effect with my sites over the three years I've been doing this full time.
You make a good point. I tend to try to normalise that against growth of Net traffic in general or against a handful of my older pages.
And that shows that I'm... just about standing still! Well, at least for the old pages.
I suspect that it could make a big difference in the ability to double income depending on if we are talking about doubling page counts from 10 to 20 pages vs doubling 1,000 to 2,000 pages.
I'd guess that going from 10 to 20 pages might make it easier to also double your income than if you were going from 1,000 to 2,000 pages or from 5,000 to 10,000 pages.
I didn't anticipate the role of Google's index would play on my new pages until after the fact. In other words, just because you make a bunch of new pages it doesn't mean much if the search engines don't have them in their indices.
|I'd guess that going from 10 to 20 pages might make it easier to also double your income than if you were going from 1,000 to 2,000 pages or from 5,000 to 10,000 pages. |
Probably, and I'd guess it also depends on the topic. A restaurant-review site about New York or London will have more expansion potential than a restaurant-review site about Seville or Edinburgh.
Well until Pierre Victoire expands to 500 branches in Edinburgh again.... B^>
Who needs Pierre Victoire when you've got the Piemaker? That's good enough for me. :-)
|Plus it keeps people wanting to come back to read the next interesting thing you put up... |
Depends on your type of website. For example, my primary website has virtually no return visitors. It's basically reference information. People seek information via a search engine, my website has the answer, they come there, and with any luck, they happen to see a relevant product/service advertised that they are interested in.
This type of website doesn't get the benefit of return visitors (just like I don't pick up the dictionary every day to see what other exciting new words I can find). OTOH, it also tends to not suffer from ad blindness or a forum-style depressingly low CTR.
|It is not only the content you should analyze, but the source of traffic |
There's a gem in there (not sure whether it's the one eflouret intended or not). When you've got a high-performing page, you can probably get a better return on your time by looking at ways to better sell those visitors than you can by creating random new content.
Even if the page is performing well and getting a 10% CTR, that means 90% of the visitors did not find a compelling product/service on that page. You may be able to use a house ad to send them to a page that displays complementary products that won't appear on the current page. You may be able to tweak the text to attract more relevant ads from Google.
For example, I have an old news item page that happened to mention two related, but not competing products. A while back, an incompatibility emerged between these two products, and my old stale page suddenly moved into my top 20 URLs for free SE traffic. I could have just said "cool" and gone about my business, but I try to always watch the top performers and study any changes.
What I found in this case, is that the old news item didn't really answer any of the questions the visitors were likely seeking, and none of the ads appearing on that page were going to help much either -- if anything, people would likely want to look at alternatives to one of the products mentioned. So, I created a new page devoted to describing alternative products that would likely be relevant, and put a "See also" into the old news item page. For the cost of about an hour's work, I currently get roughly triple the (initially not so good) revenue from that SE traffic stream.
For my top 20 traffic URLs, I look at the search terms that are bringing people there, and I go search for them myself in Google (making sure I'm logged out of Google, so it doesn't give me results skewed by my past history). The game is to figure out exactly what the searcher's need was, and use that knowledge to put the most relevant product/service ads in front of them that I can.
Of course, you can only milk so much improvement out of any given traffic stream, but if you haven't taken at least one or two stabs at it for a given high-performing URL, then you're probably leaving easy money on the table.
|I don't disagree with the original post, but my earnings more than double in the time it takes me to double my pages. This is because, as my sites grow, traffic increases to the original pages even as it starts coming to the new ones. |
Over time this should be the case.
If you target your content production to topics which people want to read, have ads which have high CTRs and are in markets with higher paying ads then you have every reason to expect this to occur.
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