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Website Credibility and Adsense
My Adsense ads may have been costing me money.

 3:15 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I removed Adsense from my widgeting consultancy website a couple of weeks ago. I was only earning about 200 per month from it but enquiries through the website had dwindled over the last couple of years. I think it may have been a loss of credibility caused by carrying the ads so I decided to remove them.

In the two and a half weeks since I did so I have noticed a rise in enquiries but it is too early to say for sure that it is down to the site now being ad free.

Thoughts on this?



 1:31 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

And the neighbourhood thing - generally the only time you'd see this would be on small p/t shops or extremely large general sites. Most regular businesses would decline to run adsense in exchange for $20 a month.

So would I. But think $3,500 a month that allows me to decide when I want to consult, what I want to consult on, who I want to work with and....you get the drift.

I have the freedom to say no. It's part of my business diversification.


 2:22 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>But think $3,500 a month t

This isn't even in the neighbourhood of what most people running adsense on their business sites are getting. You've got to have some unique circumstances if you're seeing that level of income from adsense on your business site.

And my concern over diverting that level of business through to my competitors is worrisome. $3500 at a buck a click is a boatload of traffic. $3500 at 5 cents a click is, let's see, add the 3, carry the one...a LOT of traffic. That's traffic you should be monetizing some other way. A good paying affiliate program at least. Or directly sold advertising. Or if it was me, it'd be relevant ads for my own services.

Say it's a buck a click for adwords - that's what your competitors are paying to advertise on your site. Google say takes 50 cents of that and pays you 50 cents (100% fictional numbers). You've got the opportunity to buy $3500 worth of traffic at half the price of your competitors. Why wouldn't someone do that?

Well, the reason they wouldn't do that is because the $3500 is of more importance to their business than buying $3500 of traffic for $1750. And while I appreciate $3500 isn't chump change for a lot of folks, a business that's more worried about bringing in that $3500 at the expense of their own potential business, or the ability to monetize that for their own purposes,again it speaks to the credibility of the company.

Maybe an individual business has justification for doing so. But that's my take as more of a consumer than an adsense expert - I see mickey mouse when I see adsense. And I'd be unlikely to do business with them given other alternatives that don't look quite so hungry for cash. i.e. I'm not suggesting why someone would run adsense - I'm describing how I and others would view this decision. And apparently it's being born out by the OP.


 3:04 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see mickey mouse when I see adsense.

A lot of trashy advertising (Google or any other.) typically demeans and degrades a site for me. The more I see, the less I figure the site has to offer.

Advertising is everywhere. I don't need more of it on your site or most any other. I take it as a sign that you don't have the product or content that I am looking for. Unfair? Maybe, but as a user that is my opinion. None of my ecommerce sites have any advertising of any kind. That just seems inane. None of my business sites have any advertising of any kind - trashy and second-rate. I do have some content sites that are not ecommerce monetized, and I sell links and banners on those. Not a whole lot of money, but enough, steady, and hand picked. The only TOS are my own. Solid long standing content, kept current - and long term relationships with the advertisers. I don't cheapen sites by selling out for short-term gain - and taking somebody else's TOS on my site.


 3:16 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Many people have abandoned personal websites these days for networking sites, even musicians and artists and these are all advertising supported.

People in general are used to seeing ads in most publications and I have never had any complaints about AdSense running on my own site. I held off from implementing it for years on certain sections of the site as I thought it wouldn't suit the content.

It turns out that it was not the case and it has since come in handy for a way to track visitors to my site as the statistics update quicker than Google Analytics and I don't have to fiddle around with the log files.


 4:14 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think its possible to have it both ways. Your professional presentation content and index pages with no ads, nothing to dilute your marketing message; and your 2nd tier information (glossary, white papers, other support content about your business subject) includes AdSense in a modest layout.

When everything works, your 2nd tier content gets high serps ranking for the general topic, and your primary content gets good ranking in your specific business sector.

Theres still the problem of prospective clients seeing an AdSense layout as they browse deeper into your site, but its possibly not such a problem when they see it only on the 2nd tier, more general support content.


 4:59 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

dibbern2 makes an interesting point. At a conference session about AdSense a few years ago, Jenstar recommended Google link units in the footer of the page for monetizing site visitors that were otherwise on their way out. The idea is they got to the bottom of the page because they didn't find what they wanted and the link units gave them a way out to finding what they were initially looking for.

Re shallow's question, I tend to visualize a web page as made up of information blocks. Navigation, ads, and links are all blocks of information, otherwise known as content. The information is there to be consumed, including the buy button. This past weekend a friend complained she visited a site and couldn't find what she was looking for. She was looking for a download button. That site missed a conversion because of poorly organized blocks of content. My friend did not find the information/content she was looking for.

The bottom of the page may be a good place to monetize traffic that otherwise may not convert. Running tests via crazyegg, seeing where people are clicking, can be illuminating and help the process of converting visitors etc. For more about this try researching conversion analysis [search.yahoo.com] on WebmasterWorld.


 7:14 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Adsense ads on a business or service site to me looks mickey mouse. I know I'm dealing with a one person operator probably working part time, or someone who's not web savvy.

This is true to an extent and I feel the same as you, but most people do not have our understanding of the system. Most people would not be able to tell you what Adsense was if you asked them.

But think $3,500 a month that allows me to decide when I want to consult, what I want to consult on, who I want to work with and....you get the drift.

I agree. That was my philosophy too but I wasn't on $3,500. My monthly earnings have roller coastered between $300 and $1100 per month, not a major income but still not to be sneezed when you are a poor old codger like me. I had hoped that I could increase this to the level of separate income but it has become clear that it's not going to happen. What I am doing is in too much of a niche. There is just not enough traffic.

The business I consult in is a niche software market where a click averages about $0.50 to $1.00. I don't need a lot of clicks to make what I was making. But I also sell the software and I don't need to sell a lot of what I am selling to make good commission either. We'll just have to wait and see what happens now I am ad free.

I think its possible to have it both ways. Your professional presentation content and index pages with no ads, nothing to dilute your marketing message; and your 2nd tier information (glossary, white papers, other support content about your business subject) includes AdSense in a modest layout.

Exactly! That was my philosophy. I had already realised that my credibility would be at risk if I overdid it. I have tinkered with it during the last couple of years but I did tend to choose the pages where I thought I could get away with it.


 7:26 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you are selling a product, then you should be an expert on it. If not, why are you selling it? Those who can really push a product are experts, who know everything about it, and can therefore present the product with all the great features and can compare their products to the competition, and explain why their product is a better value. Straight talk, indepth product information and insight really moves the product.

If you are an expert, and the product doesn't sell because:

A. You are unable to get volume pricing that allows you to compete in the market place

B. The product sucks

C. The product is not one that sells well on the internet. Not every product is best sold on the web. For example vehicle tires. Unless they are a rare tire, you are not going to sell them this way.

... then maybe you should be converting to a content site, pull the products and do indepth reviews of it, coupled with tons of images, tips, hints, design flaw information, comparisons, and other how-tos. Then put Adsense on it.

But, let me give you a tip, unless you are just not able to buy in high enough volume to go over the top of the competition, if you can put together a content site that is spectacular, you really should have worked harder to create a great product site.

For example, I go to a website that has a product description of a few words that really tells me nothing at all, with one very small, out-of-focus product image, I move right on by, never buy.

I am your market. I shop on the web, and I do it ALOT. I spend thousands of dollars shopping on the web each year, sometimes in a single day. I have one golden rule, I DO NOT RETURN PRODUCTS. I will not pay to return a product, ever.

This means I have to make sure the product is perfect, before I click 'add to cart'. You MUST convince me this product is exactly what I am looking for. You can not do that with an image and a few words.

You have about 1200 lines of text in an average size product page, Why does the 100x100 image and one sentence of text sit on a largely bare page? Where is your keyword density? Why didn't you chat up the product, show me the top, bottom, left side, right side, the dimension, swatches of all the colors available, key information from the user guide or owner manual, why it is perfect for me, and why it is such a good deal?

Why didn't you bother to tell me the item must be dry cleaned, that I need to buy the oil to prime the motor and then offer to sell it to me too?

Why didn't YOU research the product before you bought it wholesale, so you would know that that $4500, 12pc place setting of flatware you are hoping to sell me, and that I am shopping for, will rust along the edge of the knives by the second use, if I put it in my dishwasher? I found that information on another site, and that is why I passed up your product.

Failure at selling your product usually means you simply did not try hard enough. You want to put the product on the page with as little effort as possible and hope I will buy it without you really having to work to "sell" it to me.

The internet is not an excuse for a thin sales pitch. A thin sales pitch doesn't work in brick and mortar, and it doesn't work on the web. Lazy salespersons do not make a living at marketing products or services. They starve.

If you didn't work to sell the product, really put some major effort into making your site the most informative product site in your line, maybe you are not going to put enough effort into a content site on the topic of your product line either.

There is an exception to this rule. In the USA with thousands of failed businesses dumping inventory at way below wholesale, it is really hard to compete on the web. If my supply came from a warehouse packed full of goods I could not sell in my community, because all the jobs packed up and left and nobody can afford to shop at my store, even at clearance prices, and I come to the web and DUMP those products for pennies on the dollar, you can not compete with me buying in volume from the manufacturer. I will out-sell you.

I will give you an example of this. I went to a friend's home for supper one night. She had a guy come and pitch a set of cookware to myself and others. But, he was asking $450 for ONE electric frying pan. Per my right in the U.S., I ordered it with a 3 day right to cancel the order without penalty, because the goods were to be shipped later, and because it was sold in the home, party plan.

I came home, went to ebay and found the same exact pan, same brand, new in a sealed box, never sold, never used, not a demo, for $150 with free shipping. I cancelled my order the next day, then used BUY NOW to get the item from ebay.

Yes, I agree it sucks that I did that, but that is the world we live in. A dealer was dumping their inventory on the web, when their business failed, and I cashed in, saving $300 on a single item. While I was happy to pay $450 for the pan, I was much happier to pay $150. The salesman, was furious, when I honestly told him why I cancelled. But, the bottom line was he FAILED to compete in a world markeplace. It isn't 1920 anymore folks.

If this is the case, become an expert on your product line, and write content, excellent content that leaves nothing left unsaid, add Adsense. You will never sell those products, until the internet is no longer a dumping ground for failed business inventory, in other words, when hell freezes over.

Those of us who have made our living on the web for the past dozen years, selling products, services or writing content, did so because we put all we had into it, worked our fannies off, evolved with the changing times, and refused to fail.

You can NOT come to the web with the idea that you are going to sell Widget X at $x.xx and if it doesn't work, tuck your tale between legs and leave, only after whining and complaining about everything went wrong that could go wrong.

You come to the web with the idea that "I am going to make my living here, no matter what!" Whatever it takes, you do it. You do not work for the man, you work for yourself, and only YOU can make it work, come hell or high water, product, service or content. Chose one, and go with it.

If you want to sell products and do content with Adsense, then create a second site, a product user site and put Adsense on it. From the content site link to your product site. Become your own #1 advertiser on the content site, followed by the Adsense ads.


 8:20 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe you can use both adsense and sell your own product or service. If you have traffic, big traffic, there is a point when you can not convince everybody to buy your product or service. You can never satisfy everybody. IMHO, you can send those who are not interested in your product to other websites and monetize this traffic as well. The question is what is the optimal ratio between AdSense revenue and other sales revenue. At this moment, my Adsense revenue is about 50% of my other sales revenue. This means that my total revenue is divided into:
- AdSense: 33.3%
- Other: 66.6%.
For me, this is quite optimal, and I am not talking about hundreds or thousands of dollars, I am talking about more on a monthly basis. I would be more worried if these ratios would change.


 8:21 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Now guys I'll make you scratch your heads :)

I know a small company that is in ultra competitive business. They resell Go Daddy services but they are one of the biggest resellers with thousands of registered customers and tens of thousands of domains under management. Their business is growing every day and this is how they explain it:

...welcome to the world of new business ethics! Like many other companies we say we offer best market value available. Like some of them we really mean it. But like none of them we firmly stand behind what we mean. Well, read about proof. We're Google Media partners and through their AdSense program as of September, 2004 we publish content sensitive ads of our competitors! You may find it a bit cranky, or PR trick, or bad taste, or unwise, or crazy, or unprofessional, or... but actually, it is a well considered and thought over step. Research shows that the better informed and experienced are our customers, the stronger they appreciate services and support we offer. Featuring paid advertisements of competitors is the most ethical and cost effective way of keeping customers well informed about latest developments in our industry! As long as our competitors or Partner Program affiliates are willing to pay us for their ads so long you will see them on our Web site. All ads that come from AdSense will be served on a "first come - first served" basis, no suitable or unsuitable ads or competition, no URL filtering. Our products and services compete dollar-for-dollar with the cheapest you'll find. But they are not cheap - they are affordable. This is why our business is booming - unbeatable prices on unbeatable plans. That's the (company's name here) way!


 9:02 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I like that approach.:)


 10:00 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)


Great way to post your opinion, i truely agree with you.. Great


 10:17 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have tested removing/adding adsense blocks on a fair number of different sites, strangely I have one site that sales actually drop on if I remove the adsense block. It goes against the grain, but I have tested it on four seperate occasions on the site with the same effect. Weird eh!


 10:29 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU - I am sure you have reasoned with various appearances of the ads. If too aggressive or distracting your observation might be correct and less obvious positioning/layout might help - but then again: who wants to compromise between less seen/clicked Google ads and a little bit of a distraction on a serious business site?


 11:42 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is this a conspiracy to discourage webmasters from showing Adsense ads? To keep larger pool for yourselves? ;)

Sorry folks, you are a small group of top notch web professionals, I'd sure like to have you as clients, but...

How about Joe surfer, what percentage consitutes "oh, this site is allowed to run Google ads, must be credible", or "well they even run ads, must be serious business" etc. etc. etc..

To run Adsense ads, or not, depends on so many factors - your industry, site purpose, site mood, who is your average visitor, how well AS performs on that particular site etc. It depends where you put the ads, for example I would never put ads on home page, even on hobby site; or on a shopping cart page LOL.

My experience - once I performed a limited test on software-selling site, and didn't notice any significant difference in sales.



 12:59 pm on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe you were leaking visitors towards your competitor(s) through adsense?


 1:25 pm on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Mostly, everyone is anti adSense on ecomm sites..

However in many markets, adsense and the 'ads by Google' can add credibility.. After all Google brand name is very powerful and many small businesses can leevrage this branding to their advantage.. How they do it is the big question..

As some one pointed out, you guys are not the average Joe surfer..

Think from the point of view of a normal guy surfing for a niche product.. He is welcome to buy from my site..but if he does not get what exactly he wants..he can go elsewhere..and give me some money as he goes..


 3:05 pm on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is true to an extent and I feel the same as you, but most people do not have our understanding of the system. Most people would not be able to tell you what Adsense was if you asked them.

No doubt being in this business gives us insight and biases that the average person doesn't have, but I have to imagine the average user has seen enough business sites to realize it is not common and see it as a neutral signal at best and negative signal at worse.

That's not to say all ads are bad, like the banners at the top of WebmasterWorld fit in well with the site. Say you have an SEO consultancy site, having some well integrated ads/reviews to preferred web hosts probably makes you look even more professional and credible. I think the key is it needs to look custom designed for the site and not like the standard adsense block.


 7:04 am on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Credibility is about the quality of the information on the website, as well as the types of ads the site is showing.

Consultancy, ecommerce product websites and service related websites probably lose credibility and sales by putting those ads on the sites.

Information websites are looking to use ads to monetize, which makes perfect sense.

Every large-scale health website on the planet now monetizes, and about 75% do it with Adsense. Ir doesn't lower credibility when I read an article from an authority health website about a particular condition, since it is the website and its particulars that lead me to trust in the credibility of the website itself, not the particular flavor of advertiser they choose to go with.


 8:24 am on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Credibility is about the quality of the information on the website, as well as the types of ads the site is showing.

My website probably provides as much as, if not more information on my subject than any of the others in the niche. That is why I thought I could get away with it.

Here's the fuller story behind my decision.

A few months ago I got some feedback through a technical forum where I moderate. I had commented negatively on a particular product one of the reasons being that it was not a real product and that the website was only there to generate advertising income. I could see that quite plainly (wearing my other hat). I also openly stated that my own website carried Google Ads but that I did not have a specific product. I felt I had to do this as I was criticising someone else.

A respondent got back to me asking me why my own website was "littered with Google ads" and why I did this. He must have felt quite strongly about this because he also stated categorically that he wouldn't buy any service or product from a site carrying Google ads. His point was that it should't be an income source for any product he was willing to pay for.

Another respondent made a similar point so obviously this got me thinking. I was still getting enquiries through the website but how many was I losing as a result of the Ads? This is basically what spurred my decision to remove them.

I should also say that I am in an engineering discipline and it's 90% engineering people I deal with. As engineers I think they may be a bit more cynical when it comes to advertising. I do know that engineers tend to prefer getting to the information they need quickly without having to brush away any fluff. ;)


 11:54 pm on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't mind those (AdSense ads) on Amazon but when I see an unknown website carrying ads I

So... it's OK for Amazon but not the little guy? I agree it seems people think this way but it's a very anti-little guy/pro mega corp attitude.


 1:21 am on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

So... it's OK for Amazon but not the little guy? I agree it seems people think this way but it's a very anti-little guy/pro mega corp attitude.

It's a pro-familiarity attitude. People know that Amazon is a legitimate, well-established business; they aren't likely to know that about a site that they've just discovered while looking for "widgets" in Google or Yahoo Search.

In other words, it's all about brand reputation and trust.


 11:09 am on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are selling stuff (and also certain amount of consulting with it). It so happens that we have certain texts on the web site covering related areas of expertise, in where we have nothing to offer. Furthermore, from these pages, there is a subset of pages with conversion of zero. People come in for a related topic (not something we work in), get their answer and leave. Either with the answer or via some "more info" links. But we know that people entering on these pages never convert. We happily deployed adsense on these pages, with no effect on the "primary" commercial topic, about couple years ago (and we did an A/B split test - no side effect we can measure).


 11:34 am on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

'webmaster welfare' - ROFl

I agree though a serious site should not have adsense running on it


 12:04 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Serious sites like Amazon you mean? ;)


 8:43 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

In other words, it's all about brand reputation and trust.

Right, and you would think that if you really trust an ecommerce company (e.g. Amazon) they wouldn't throw AdSense ads at you. That's one of the things that you supposedly trust them to not do I would think. If you can handle some AdSense ads from Amazon then you should be able to handle them from Joe's website. Why do you need to trust a site to be able to tolerate the ads? Same ads either way.


 9:21 pm on Aug 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

It all depends on the website. If someone makes six to seven figures on Adsense, that is better than welfare. For example, a person may do affiliate work which in turn sometimes limits the website. You only want to do stuff that can make that money. You restrict yourself to a certain mindset. Adsense opens it up and allows one to add some content that otherwise wouldn't make any money. They sky is the limit if it compliments the business in some way. Adsense covers that extra area well on a website. In turn, this bumps up the whole depth of the website and all the revenues go up. And in some rare cases, Adsense may do five times the affiliate revenue a couple years later after the said expansion takes place.

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