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The effect on AdSense revenue when splitting long articles.
...over multiple pages.
dataguy




msg:4088560
 10:16 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been wondering this for some time and I'm about to start a test of my own, but I would like to know if anyone here has experience with this.

What effect on AdSense revenue would there be by splitting longer articles over multiple pages instead of just having the entire article on one page?

Nearly all the newspaper and info-portal sites do it, there must be a reason, though I suspect I already get higher CPM rates than the average newspaper site or info-portal.

Has anyone else here tested this?

 

tangor




msg:4088585
 10:33 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Main reason for splitting articles is increasing page count... therefore views... and to also keep page loading to a minimum. Look at pages offered rather than articles offered. I do this for my commercial sites. My hobby site I do not... (no ads)... different strokes. :)

jetteroheller




msg:4088586
 10:35 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Can todays people really read a long article?

It happens now regulary that people send me articles for my site to publish.

I split them to as many pages as are necessary to put the content into 600 x 600 pixel content fields

I insert headlines to make it more easy to read 1 to 4 headlines per page.

So the articles gets a structure,
more chance than a long long article where average Joe thinks, he will never be able to read from begin to end.

tangor




msg:4088597
 11:04 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Depends on the content... example: a Novel... I'd rather have the whole thing instead of a bunch of chapters. On the other hand news sites do split well. Headline and report first page. Second contains additional info and, if it goes that far, third page lists sources and links. E-commerce sites should be one page per product...unless it is a pretty spectacular product!

dataguy




msg:4088598
 11:08 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your replies. Do you know what to expect as far as an effect on AdSense revenue? Will more page views turn into more clicks, and ultimately higher revenue?

I've seen high page views result in lower overall AdSense revenue, which is why I'm hesitant with this.

celgins




msg:4088607
 11:22 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've never done any in-depth tests for split articles, but most of my Adsense clicks occur on pages containing the full article.

Weird things tend to happen on page 2.

My observation centers around how users navigate article pages. I have noticed that some users reach the end of page 1, and don't bother going to page 2--even when it's clearly marked that additional pages follow.

For users who click and read additional pages, they seem to be truly interested in the topic, and less interested in ads. However, there is a really good chance that users who finish an article that interests them, are looking for more good content within the site and may click an ad that interests them.

martinibuster




msg:4088612
 11:33 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The subsequent pages may have less ranking power since they are one, two, three pages deeper into the site and away from the home page. As a consequence it's possible that you may lose ranking from keywords that currently lead to the single page since those keywords no longer exist on the page, but on pages that are deeper into the site which have less ranking power. The single page may benefit from being able to match up a variety of longtail combinations, something it cannot do if it is split into two or three pages.

I think the ability to rank may take a hit, causing you to experience the opposite of joy regarding your AdSense earnings.

tangor




msg:4088620
 11:46 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The only thing I've noticed is that more billboards (pages) the more opportunity... but that only works if the viewer goes past page one!

Sadly, our current internet generation is "soundbyte" trained and do not have the patience to deal with in-depth articles.

celgins




msg:4088661
 12:25 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

From martinibuster:
As a consequence it's possible that you may lose ranking from keywords that currently lead to the single page since those keywords no longer exist on the page...

Very true. I have a hard time getting subsequent pages to rank.

From dataguy:
I've seen high page views result in lower overall AdSense revenue, which is why I'm hesitant with this.

A lot of observations about this over the years, and I tend to agree with it. Pages that are extremely popular--in this case, an article--aren't popular because of the ads. Yes--popular pages have more eyes on them and if users are reading deeper, it means there is a focused interest on the content, not the ads.

farmboy




msg:4088697
 2:30 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind those unintended consequences. I've read comments after articles that were broken up into several pages where the visitors complained they had to trog through page after page just so the site could increase their page views.

Visitors who are thinking this way may be reluctant to click anything as a way of "paying back" the site owner.


FarmBoy

koan




msg:4088781
 6:24 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I see page links at the bottom and the current page is just a few paragraphs, you can be sure I'll skip the article altogether, it's just too annoying. I think it's a cheap way to increase pageviews for banner ads.

johnmoose




msg:4088888
 2:28 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

I too split articles over more than one page avoiding pages becoming too long. Main reason is because I know that nobody really reads a page until they find something interesting (I do that too). Pages are given structure with headings describing the paragraphs so that people are able to scan the page quickly until they find something worth reading.
This way pages are not too short as Koan said and are not ad spammy.

ken_b




msg:4088896
 3:15 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Someone define "long".

Splitting a 1,200 pixel long page is one thing, splitting a 12,000 pixel long page may be another.

celgins




msg:4088902
 4:26 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think the term "long" is relative. Each site owner is different and I have no idea if any web studies describe what "long" means.

For me, when a user has to scroll the entire height of their screen to read the remainder of the article, the article is long. I'm not saying this is a reason to split the article into pages, but users seem to get cranky when they have to scroll a lot.

News organizations know this, which is why you may see an 12-paragraph article split into three pages (with several 300x250 ad blocks interspersed to fill in space). For the most part, each page fits into a 768-pixel height screen and scrolling is minimal.

But like koan noted, many users who see "Continued on Page 2, 3, 4" have no intention of reading that much--even if they didn't have to scroll very far to reach the end of page 1.

maximillianos




msg:4088912
 4:45 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

We split our longer articles over 2 pages. It helped increase pageviews and ad revenues, and makes for a better user experience.

mojomike




msg:4090249
 9:11 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I find that testing for bounce rate is my best indicator about spiting. I've done very little testing and have been able to reduce the bounce rate, but there has also been a decrease in the CTR

shallow




msg:4090337
 12:30 am on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I stopped splitting articles some time ago.

I occasionally buy articles. When one is too long, I divide it into two separate articles. On each page, I place a brief summary of the other article and include a link to it. While related, each article can stand on its own.

farmboy




msg:4090366
 1:55 am on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Main reason is because I know that nobody really reads a page until they find something interesting


Nobody? I'd be careful about betting the farm based on that. If I don't see something interesting in the first or second paragraph, I'm gone, I don't hang around and waste more time.


.... but users seem to get cranky when they have to scroll a lot.


And some get cranky when they have to keep clicking to the next page.

I think it would be wise to proceed with caution.


News organizations know this, which is why you may see an 12-paragraph article split into three pages ...


Do you think news organizations really break their articles into pages because they think people get cranky when they have to scroll or maybe they just want to increase the page views?


-----

By the way, my earnings are better on pages with fairly short articles - not long articles broken into short parts - just plain ole' short articles.


FarmBoy

celgins




msg:4090392
 3:11 am on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Do you think news organizations really break their articles into pages because they think people get cranky when they have to scroll or maybe they just want to increase the page views?


Of course they want to increase page views, but they also know that in order to increase page views, they have to retain readers. Some folks will see a full-page article and immediately become disinterested. When they break the monotony, it allows some readers to eat the elephant one bite at a time.

It's like being given a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation--some folks may not care how good the content is; they simply don't have the patience to go through all of it.

JS_Harris




msg:4090673
 2:02 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

More links on the page might drop search rankings causing the page to be found fewer times which leads to less income. I wouldn't split pages unless you get paid per pageview or bandwidth is a problem.

dataguy




msg:4106052
 4:59 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for your replies. After 3 weeks of testing I can make some preliminary observations.

The simple bottom line is that of the pages that I split there has been a 87% increase in page views and a 12% increase in AdSense revenue. Bounce rate is down from an average of 90% to 61% now.

My biggest concern was that I'd lose some search engine traffic to these articles. We all know that changing an established page can have disastrous results. After 3 weeks there is normal fluctuation, but averaged out traffic appears to be consistent with what it was like before splitting the pages.

One surprise is that some pages earned very little revenue before and now earn quite a bit. I guess it averages out though, since overall revenue is only up 12%.

Only about a fourth of my pages have been split as I didn't want to be too aggressive in splitting existing pages. As new pages are added, the percentage will increase. 12% is 12%, and could likely result in hiring another employee. So far I have no regrets in moving forward with this experiment.

ken_b




msg:4106067
 5:56 pm on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the update Dataguy.

Those are pretty interesting numbers.

incrediBILL




msg:4106561
 7:26 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Bounce rate is down from an average of 90% to 61% now.


What this tells you is 30% of the people "bouncing" actually found what they needed on the page they landed on and are now sticking around to read the entire article.

That's a significant thing to know.

dataguy




msg:4106571
 7:56 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, incrediBILL, the bounce rate is a funny thing. Most people consider it bad when it's higher. I'm torn between believing I should try to lower it or be satisfied where it is. Fodder for another thread...

docbird




msg:4106663
 12:19 am on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

I was surprised to see re news organizations favouring multi page articles.
Just did v quick check. To google news, clicked some of first links I saw for some news orgs: CNN, LA Times, THe Guardian, NY Times, WSJ. In each case, I was taken to an article that was one page, and for which I had to scroll (1050 pixel high screen). 25 paragraphs in NY Times story: each short.

I'm among those irritated by having to click on thro pages to read articles, unless those pages real big.

Had figured that with scroll wheels common on mice, people are happier nowadays about scrolling.
UK's Daily Mail is another I can think of in media - has long articles with plenty of scrolling; maybe has done some testing. Lots of photos in these articles. (And no, for those who know Daily Mail, not my first choice of reading matter each day - my wife likes it tho)

maximillianos




msg:4106969
 1:35 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

We've split pages (into 2 pages max) for about 7-8 years now. It did immediately increase pageviews, but our goal was also to have more control over the layout of the first page. We wanted to expose certain feature/related links without having them buried at the bottom of a 10,000 word article. Splitting long articles into 2 pages gave us the best of both worlds. Minimal clicking (since we only have a maximum of 2 pages) and we get more pageviews, and we get to expose more content that may help the user further.

AndyA




msg:4107132
 6:00 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

One size does not fit all here. Some people aren't going to mind scrolling down to read an article in its entirety, yet others will. Some won't mind multiple clicks to different pages to get the full story, but others will.

I don't mind scrolling down to read an article, but I don't like it when there's a big section of ads right in the middle, along with ads and other junk in side columns. Makes it very difficult to follow, in my opinion. And that "Story continues after break" notation is often where I abandon the site.

I don't mind ads embedded within the article, as long as your eye can continue to follow the text, and not have to skip over a big break for ads.

I think a lot has to do with the site's topic, configuration, and whether or not the site is predominantly informative or mostly sales oriented.

JS_Harris




msg:4107380
 5:06 am on Mar 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem is being over analyzed. Splitting pages helps with number of pageviews but not revenue. Instead of trying to explain why...

Have you ever seen search results in which multiple pages of the same article rank #1,2,3,4...etc?

Didn't think so, and people reading every page won't be clicking your adsense multiple times either.

tangor




msg:4107397
 5:32 am on Mar 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

In a multi-page article that people actually click through to read, they are not likely to click on any ads until the last page... simply because if they did they won't get the rest of the article. Comes down to reader preference/tolerance. I read news sites and all, with very few exceptions, divide their articles into screen and a bit sections... and tick me off that I have to click "next" to finish. But I do it because I want that info or I bail after reading page one. Most of the time I do that anyway because a correctly written news article gives all the facts/interest in the first few paragraphs and the rest is expansion/commentary. Freely admit I am not the "average" visitor and have not been since 1996. When I want to find out how people use the web I ask my 82 year old mother. She's my tester!

tim222




msg:4107876
 10:10 pm on Mar 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been doing this for some time and it does help on the revenue. Splitting a long article into two pages presents each viewer with more ads, increasing the liklihood that they'll see one that interests them.

My rule of thumb is around 400 words per page. I don't know how that works out in pixels but if you scroll once you can see the footer.

In a multi-page article that people actually click through to read, they are not likely to click on any ads until the last page... simply because if they did they won't get the rest of the article.

LOL - I must not be a captivating writer. My stats show that the first page always has far more views than the second page which has more views than the third, and so on...

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