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This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >     
Bad Site = More Money
or how not to improve your website
btas2




msg:3207695
 6:50 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have one small website that I don't work on much but which generates a few dollars a day on average so it way more than pays for itself over time.

It's a messy site which just "grew" without any coherent design and with poor page-to-page navigation.

Having nothing better to do I decided to tidy it up. I made a really nice site using the same page content and page names (to keep the search engines happy). Very smooth CSS design. Looks great.

Of course the expected happened. Traffic stayed pretty much the same but the CTR plummeted and earnings dopped.

I'm now in the process of messing it up again and making it ugly and hard to navigate and if that fails, I'll simply stick the old site back in place.

For a site that you want to grow, develop traffic and attract users, a good design may payoff in the long term, but on a small site that just sits there and doesn't get much attention, poor design and confused users seems to convert to higher reveue. I'd wondered about this in the past. Now I know!

 

leadegroot




msg:3207701
 7:02 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

and its not just adsense - I've seen the same reports for e-commerce sites.
Users are so strange... :(

iwannano1




msg:3207710
 7:20 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Many top adsense publisher have very bad looking site or just one block of Adsense. But they make more money. I am not sure why ulgy site makes more money? May be because of their large user base... :/?

Pengi




msg:3207717
 7:51 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

The logic seems obvious to me.

Given a visitor has already arrived at a site then:

If it looks good then they stay awhile and look around.

If it looks bad then they get out quick - possibly by means of any attractive looking ad.

Hobbs




msg:3207741
 8:49 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

For a site that you want to grow, develop traffic and attract users

For a new/small low traffic site, I imagine growing to be the only item on the agenda, so why would anyone want to remain small, p1ss off their visitors and entice them to get the h4ll out by clicking away as soon as possible? Few bucks a day is too short sighted.

But (and there is always a but) uglying up a little does make sense, but not to the extent of confusing visitors, you're flushing away the baby and saving the bath water if you do. How little is little? Watch your stats and bookmarks not earnings for the performance indicators of your new site, optimize for earnings after you have achieved the critical mass for the web site to succeed long term, I've advised people to start without ads on their web site the first few months, gets you better results long term.

Finally remember, publishers are in the business of selling traffic first, low or no traffic, then you nothing to sell, optimize for, or even talk about here.

mainspot




msg:3207781
 10:24 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Since you mention this topic, I just realize that I am also experiencing kind of same situation with you.

I also have one small site which I haven't touch for one year. This site has a couple hundreds static pages. But it keeps growing in term of visitors sent by SE (page views) and contribute around 95% of my adsense income.

My humble best guess is SE value the older pages more than the new ones. Old here means last updated time stamp for the page.

@ btas2
Maybe after you tidy your old pages, Google threat those pages as a new pages and start serve the low quality ads all over again.

Just my humble opinion...

OOT, or maybe GA serves better Ads for site with better PageRank.
Half year ago, I notice significant increase in eCPM and wonder why.
I do some PageRank checker, and the site PR has increase since the last time I remember. Have you periodically check your site PR? Is it down or up?

Woz




msg:3207793
 10:59 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

btas2 is quite right, this is a subject often discussed on these fora. Do a Google search for ugly sites [google.com].

And for Supporters, there is this classic - [webmasterworld.com...]

Onya
Woz

trillianjedi




msg:3207802
 11:08 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Out-styling and out-copywriting the ads you're serving on your pages is not a good idea (assuming your primary consideration is ad revenue).

Top ranking pages that a pig-ugly are fabulous.

TJ

joelgreen




msg:3207816
 11:27 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Think users do not like "heavy design" with lots of images, when site/page takes ages to load. Ugly/plain text page would load fast. Often "nice design" is not really helpful to visitors, and makes navigation worse. Website decorations attract more attention than content. So I would say design should be helpful rather than "nice".

dauction




msg:3207819
 11:35 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you supply all the information/product on your information ..if you satisfy your visitor then they have no reason to click your adverts

BillyS




msg:3207823
 11:42 am on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>If you supply all the information/product on your information ..

This is exactly what happened to us. Rewrote everything to dramtically improve the information provided - covered all the bases.

CTR dropped by half
eCPM dropped by half

Thankfully search engines started sending a lot more traffic (probably because of the more comprehensive content). So far this month has been a good one, with earnings up around 30%.

Sunflux




msg:3207876
 1:05 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

This actually boils back to the whole MFA site theory. Lure people in, leave them wanting a whole lot more, and they may leave by an ad rather than the BACK button.

But if you have a top-notch site, easy to navigate, lots of content and are the authority on your subject matter... well, satisfied visitors aren't likely to want to go looking for more information right away. Only hope is if you're a product site they may want to buy one through an ad. But, because you have a good site, they're more likely to bookmark it and come back again... and hopefully there will be some nice CPM ads there to greet them.

ISeeThreadPeople




msg:3207996
 2:56 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Whenever I try to understand the average internet user I just go to my mom, bless her.

I asked her if she prefers pretty, nicely designed site and she replied that if a site looks to jazzed up and "designy" she immediately becomes suspicious. "It just feels like they want you to buy something" was her words. I guess its like a slick, over friendly salesman who talks big and spews lingo.

Maybe the messy sites feel more personal and comfortable, like home. Maybe users trust your site and therefor its ads, because its easier to identify with.

Just my thoughts.

[edited by: ISeeThreadPeople at 2:57 pm (utc) on Jan. 4, 2007]

europeforvisitors




msg:3208046
 3:34 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

f you supply all the information/product on your information ..if you satisfy your visitor then they have no reason to click your adverts

If that were true, advertisers wouldn't seek out "endemic advertising" media (e.g., car magazines for manufacturers of automotive products, bridal magazines for designers of wedding dresses, or upscale travel magazines for five-star hotels and resorts).

Ad targeting by keyword is only half the contextual- advertising battle: For the advertiser, it's equally important to reach an interested, motivated audience. Sites that can deliver qualified leads (not just "I want to get out of here so I'll click on the first ad I see" traffic) are less likely to be hit by smart pricing and less likely to post "Help! My average EPC has dropped from 50 cents to a penny!" messages in forums like this one.

mojomike




msg:3208229
 5:24 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I own ( proudly ) an ugly site. and it makes some money but it converts visitors to fill out my form very well. I spent some time designing it

these were my steps :
1) I used the proper selections of the color wheel, but I choose very ugly colors.

2) the navigation is in perfect step a) information b) pictures c) price d) fill out form ( I loose about 25% of the visitors on each step ), but when they make it that far the person that fills out the form qualifies as a prospect.

3) I use plain old html and nothing fancy. real fast page load times

that's it.

I learned that the fancy sites I have designed really don't work for me ( I don't care about the AdSense income, I need a qualified prospect, and if anyone clicks the links it's going to a local so overall my town and users win. )

Mike

Jordo needs a drink




msg:3208328
 6:21 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Top ranking pages that a pig-ugly are fabulous.

I think this is key to whether ugly sites = more money or not.

If your ugly site is ranking well, then ugly sites usually equal more money.

BUT, long term, an ugly site that isn't ranking well, may make more money by cleaning up to attract more links to eventually rank higher and generate more traffic. Yes, short term, you'll take an earnings hit, but long term, you may get more traffic and more revenue (although a lower CTR) with a visitor pleasing site.

I compare it to the decision a lot of people have to make when deciding whether to take that promotion into management or not. Yes, you will probably take a pay cut because you no longer get overtime, but after that initial pay cut, you can keep getting promoted and salary increases to the point that your making much much more.

netchicken1




msg:3208391
 7:03 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am in exactly that situation.

Over christmas I decided to tidy my site up, since then the ctr plummeted. It was really scary, so I went back and undid the changes, this morning its back to normal...

who knows?

europeforvisitors




msg:3208437
 7:37 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think it's about "ugly" vs. "pretty," it's more about whether the design is suited to the audience.

If you have an editorial site aimed at a mainstream audience, for example, having a site that looks like Walmart.com is likely to work against you, and having a site that looks like it was laid out by Apple's iPod design team may not be helpful, either. OTOH, if you've got a product site that's aimed at the spiky-haired twenty-something Eurohip crowd, pages that look like articles at Newyorktimes.com are likely to be unproductive. And if your audience lives in countries where dial-up connections are still common, page weight may be as important as how the page looks.

Sunflux




msg:3208689
 11:40 pm on Jan 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder whether it's navigation more than overall looks that impacts this sort of thing. For example, last year I did a major redesign of my site (I only run one).

It went from "was once nice but is now dated" to "modern, slick and smooth" and my AS stats really didn't move around any. However navigation didn't change much at all - it was already quite good, and after it's perhaps slightly better. So I wonder if those seeing decreases are basically no longer confusing thier visitors - which might almost mean they were relying on the "clickers think ads are site navigation" thing.

mainspot




msg:3208807
 1:44 am on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sites that can deliver qualified leads (not just "I want to get out of here so I'll click on the first ad I see" traffic) are less likely to be hit by smart pricing and less likely to post "Help! My average EPC has dropped from 50 cents to a penny!" messages in forums like this one.

AHA... I think the statement above make some clearer explanation to issue such as eCPM drop.

Thanks europeforvisitors... :)

btas2




msg:3208944
 5:03 am on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

This isn't smart pricing. The number of clicks has dropped significantly, not the EPC.

I guess making it easier to navigate around the site means they are more likely to click on a navigation link and less likely to click on a ad when they get bored with a page.

I'm sure AsSense would say they prefer that people clicked only on links that really interest them, but given that fact that they take little action against MFA sites, AdSense aren't exactly leading by example. I've seen and reported single page sites that contain no information at all and 3 blocks of adsense links, but they don't take any action and those sites are still there months later. I can only conclude that AdSense really don't much care why people click as long as they click.

ronburk




msg:3208951
 5:15 am on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I guess making it easier to navigate around the site means they are more likely to click on a navigation link and less likely to click on a ad when they get bored with a page.

Or the redesign made the ads hard to see.

Or the redesign made pages slower to download, making lots of folks leave before the page finishes loading (a case not detectable in the logs of either IIS or Apache).

Or the redesign made it harder to read some of the key text that was converting visitors to clicks.

Or the redesign used fancy features that turned into display glitches for lots of folks (when the beloved Rotten Tomatoes site redesigned, I suddenly started seeing all the pages shoved, out of sight, off to the right in FireFox).

People who think they're turning an ugly site into a pretty site are often just focusing on form and completely ignoring function -- resulting in a "professional-looking" website that is pure crap to use.

btas2




msg:3209635
 7:09 pm on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think so. The new design was faster, the text was clearer and easier to read and it didn't use any "fancy" features that users wouldn't have. It displayed perectly in IE, firefox and Opera.

I think it's simply a case of bad design better shoving ads in the face of users in a way that encouraged them to click. I don't know what the psychology is behind the way users navigate. If I did I suppose I'd be making a fortune!

Play_Bach




msg:3209969
 11:54 pm on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I see it as order vs chaos. AdSense ads are well organized and so they stand out more when they're surrounded by poor design.

leadegroot




msg:3209991
 12:11 am on Jan 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

A little offtopic, but, btas2, recent word from Matt Cutts was:
About a month and a half ago, Google decided to pursue this more aggressively, and quite a few people have already been dropped from AdSense for webspam (violations of our quality guidelines).

(http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/the-real-lesson-from-this-week/#comment-92782 in answer to [mattcutts.com...]
(Mod: I assume a mattcutts url is ok?)
So there is hope that the MFAs will be reduced

caran1




msg:3210055
 1:48 am on Jan 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I visit so many sites (belonging to big companies) that load very slowly or give runtime errors, so I hit the back button. I wonder why the website designer cannot keep it simple so that it loads fast without errors.

btas2




msg:3210759
 10:57 pm on Jan 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just as a postscript, I replaced the new site with the old site and the clicks came back up, so it wasn't just a coincidence.

All I need to do now if figure out just what in the old design was resulting in increased clicks....

It's not immediately obvious. I'm going to have to try to do a more detailed vistor path analysis to see where visitors were going.

The overall lesson I guess is that "better" is a very subjective term when it comes to page layout and site design.

leolapinos




msg:3211098
 9:32 am on Jan 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I had the same happening a while back with one of my sites, it took me 2 months to get the earnings back up. In fact redesigning a site even when you have adsense in mind can do pretty weird things to your site. My guess is that people first keep on checking the new site without really clicking away and once they get to know it they have a pretty good idea what the site looks like and will more likely click on ads since that is something that changes frequently. Nevertheless, I would redo the redesign even if it dropped my adsense income with 30% in the first 2 months after the launch.

webdreamer




msg:3212442
 8:05 pm on Jan 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I noticed with the websites I have that have poor content, the click through rate is 3 times higher than the websites with excellent content. Content is king - but poor content pays better.

europeforvisitors




msg:3212453
 8:13 pm on Jan 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I noticed with the websites I have that have poor content, the click through rate is 3 times higher than the websites with excellent content. Content is king - but poor content pays better.

Only if the poor content gets enough traffic.

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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