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Prediction: May 2014 will be the worst month of all time
avalon37

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 9:38 pm on May 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

So, it appears as though AdSense has permanently replaced the smaller circle arrow in the text ads with the much larger square version. I've seen it consistently across all devices and I don't think I ever saw it before on smartphones. This will have huge negative consequences for publishers that are opted into text ads. I'm already seeing a huge CTR drop as a result.

Unless AdSense changes this "switch" I predict it will be every publishers worst CTR month ever, and as a result, your worst month as a publisher adjust for traffic.

Google - unbelievable.

 

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 5:47 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

In my last post, I failed to add, "One ad per page only".

@netmeg
And now, for the big reveal. My Website editor is, are you ready for it? Claris Homepage 3 from 1997. So Mac-like. So elegant (for 1997). I have never loved a piece of software more, but it is SOOOO long in the tooth. Yet I know every inch of it. But for some things, there are no workarounds. BUT IT STILL WORKS, for what I want to do. One thing it cannot do is asynchronous AdSense code - it slaughters it. Funny, because Chitika asynchronous code works fine with HP 3.

"WHAT? This bozo made $640,000 using Claris Homepage 3 from 1997?" Yes, I did.

@ember
Your monthly SS payment goes up until age 70, at which point it peaks. That's why I waited until 70. For me, it is about $1,000 more per month, mostly because of my peak earning year of 2013. High recent annual earnings can really push up the monthly benefit if you wait until 70. I'm glad I did. Hopefully, the Republicans won't be able to decimate it, which they would love to do.

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 7:09 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

At noon on the 8th day of my demotion, the toggle switch remains in the "demoted" position.

$20 at noon today. And on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th = $20. 20 bucks, 20 bucks, 20 bucks. Used to average $150 at noon, in early 2014. Far higher in 2013.

Reading the comments of others, it is becoming clear that I am demoted, as others are doing well. Now, if I could only figure out why.

Why the Demotion?

Failed to embrace Google beta products
Failed to embrace Google+ (I'm in, but not chatty)
- would not give me G+ nickname (I live in a valley, where there is NO mobile service)

Irritating manner (sometimes truth isn't pretty)
Did not have wetsuit in Google employee's size (when employees visited in 2003)
Irritating manner (know it all) I know some stuff, but certainly not everything.

Offended Google employee in some way (failed to genuflect)
Google "Consult" went poorly (it sure did) - Refused subsequent "Consult" invitations
- more ads, bigger ads (I was not into it)
Google needs the cash (I am but one of many demoted)
Google algo is broken (others have suggested this)
Google employee offended - (once made offensive statement of some sort)

Too aged looking (never could get Google to display my photo in G+)
Too old (fighting back on that front)
Too fat (you got that right)
Too outspoken (confirmed)
Too confident (not really, I fake it)
Too irreverent (long record of non-compliance - no 350, no images, single ad only, no 3rd party ads)
Too successful (perceived to be not worthy of earnings)

Uses old web editor (not current enough, so can't know much)
Uses 4.0 transitional, doesn't know HTML5 (correct)
Does not have a dedicated mobile site (don't know how)
Does not use responsive ads (don't know how)
Does not use CCS (don't know how)
Does not update content (I do, but when you have over 400 pages ...)

Website is too ugly (confirmed, but it is pretty functional, informative and accurate)
Wrong political views (liberal democrat)

I would like to add more, but at some point, you have to pull the trigger.
Most of these are whimsical. BUT ONE IS NOT.
Which one is it?

[edited by: Sally_Stitts at 8:16 pm (utc) on May 8, 2014]

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 8:16 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

The US had been 50% or so of revenue. Today China was the biggest click and nothing much else throughout the day.

Regards...jmcc

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 8:25 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Traffic from wrong countries (GWT says this month, 75% US, then UK, Canada, Australia, and then India (could do without India).

This could go on forever, so I will refrain from further posting, until I double the size of the list.
But I am still "all ears" regarding the suggestions of other folks.

Is there Balm in Gilead? (Is there a fix?)
Will there be surcease of sorrow, for the lost Lenore? (Will I ever regain my former status?)

RedBar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 9:12 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

@ jmcc

Likewise...biggest click and earner of the day from Switzerland, 1 click from both the US and UK...completely borked, never seen anything like it.

This is removal level, absolutely pointless, I thought I may make the minimum this month however it's looking very doubtful now, not bad eh $10,000 month to less than $100...

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 9:29 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

... $10,000 month to less than $100...


Over $19,000 a month in Jan. 2013 to less than $1,200 in May 2014 ($40 x 30 projected, but still continuing downward, so it could end up to be much less).

How do I remove the algo hex that has been placed upon me?
.

webcentric

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 10:15 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

How do I remove the algo hex that has been placed upon me?


To which algo-hex do your refer? If traffic is not reduced proportionate to earnings then I assume you're referring to an Adsense algorithm such as the one that used to be pretty good at matching ads with content. That one has been playing hide and seek with me on a daily basis this month. Today it came out to play and it's helping to pull me back toward a normal month but tomorrow it may go on vacation again so all bets are off.

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 11:29 pm on May 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

To which algo-hex do your refer?

The one that took me from Golden Boy to Dog-meat overnight, on the evening of March 31.
... the one that used to be pretty good at matching ads with content.

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 1:23 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

@sally To be honest, at least as far as I have seen in my niche, I would pick this one:
Website is too ugly (confirmed, but it is pretty functional, informative and accurate)


It has been my experience since Panda started that Google, for ranking and for earnings, does not watch Dove commercials. Looks matter.

I personally saw earning plummet with an "ugly" but functionally better design overhaul. I saw income come back up and then some when the site's template was replaced with something more visually appealing.

You have to think of this from Google's perspective. Ad managers want to show their bosses or clients pretty sites that their ads are appearing on. It just makes more money.

I guess you can think of it like neighborhood blight. I live in a working middle class neighborhood - good people, low crime, but just a little shabby. The local strip malls are pretty bare. People who live here go to the shops a few miles over to buy because they want to shop where "the richer people shop". The people who live a few miles over are not coming to where we live to shop. And blight happens.

It's not fair, but when people shop, looks matter. It make people feel richer to shop in places that make them feel "better" than they are. Advertisers know this, and Google knows this, so they will reward sites that follow that.

This is already long winded, but just a final example. I use to work at a catalog that sold clothes to women who were 60+. But the photos in the catalog were all of women who were in their 40s. Women wanted to believe that wearing clothes that were obviously made for women 60+ would make them look 40 - and it paid off in more sales. It is a pretty basic lesson in looks and marketing.

ember

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 1:36 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Looks matter.


I agree to a point. My sites are not fancy or sleek or spiffy. They are, though, well laid-out and easy to navigate, which I've been told by Adsense people matters. I just had another consult with an Adsense team member yesterday. Not this time or any other time have they told me to update my site. I even asked if we're all going to be slowly pushed into responsive design, and he said no. It will benefit us if we do go to responsive design, but much of the decision to do so depends on a site's users.

wearing clothes that were obviously made for women 60+


What kind of clothes are obviously made for women in their 60s?

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 1:40 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I even asked if we're all going to be slowly pushed into responsive design, and he said no.

No, you won't be "pushed" into anything. You just won't make as much money. And they will not tell you why because there are 2 dozen hungry sites behind you that will do it without being asked.

I listen to everything that comes out of the Googleplex. But you have to remember that they are a business. They are Obi-Wan Kenobi. They will tell you the truth from a certain perspective.

What kind of clothes are obviously made for women in their 60s?

Muu-muus, for starters. ;) Honest to god, I cut my teeth on AdWords looking up variations of that word.

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 3:14 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

The data is in.

Website is too ugly.

It is so incredibly dated, poorly designed, and lacking in modern page presentation techniques, that it is no longer worthy of consideration. I have been relegated to the $hit bin.

Will I fix it?
Probably not. I thought it was OK. Sure, I will play around with it some more, but all this 10 hour a day cr@p has got to go. It is time for me to go from "retired", to really, actually retired.

I hope that many will learn from this discussion. There is a valuable lesson here for everyone, which is -
SITE APPEARANCE IS NOW A VERY IMPORTANT GOOGLE RANKING FACTOR. FAR MORE SO THAN IN THE PAST. TAKE HEED.

I will have to add this to my antiquated "Google Ranking Factors Checklist", first published in 2003.

What I find interesting is that it was JUST FINE for 10 years. On May the 1st, it became irrelevant. Time to go back and read all those thank you emails from my readers, and fade away into the sunset.

Best of luck to all. And Thank You so much to all who guided me through this, and provided candid and cogent analysis.

One more thing. In my last post I said on the evening of March 31 - I meant April 30.

eek2121



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 4:14 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I ended up not going completely responsive. Why? Adsense. The issue with Adsense (the 'not-so-responsive' ad unit) is that it doesn't adapt to changes 'on the fly' with it's responsive ad units. For example, if i re-size my browser. Instead, my website detects the device and loads one of the following form factors: mobile, tablet, desktop, and desktop (hi res).

Note that Google COULD actually fix this issue, but it requires some larger changes to the way ads work. However, it IS possible.

littlecubpanda



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 6:15 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

CPC HAS CRATERED!

[edited by: littlecubpanda at 6:22 am (utc) on May 9, 2014]

littlecubpanda



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 6:20 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

CPC HAS CRATERED!

But CTR is UP.

Ads are being clicked and not removed. They're delivering good ads, but they don't pay anything this month.

Something off. CPC could be worse, but it's been noticeably down maybe 35% since May 1st across ALL web properties.

It's just odd. Traffic is normal and good, too, all as expected.

Mobile ad CTR is slightly up since May 1st, showing an upward trend, expected with these new ads, Tablets were up except for today they plummeted, and Desktop CTR is slightly down but within its normal range.

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 6:40 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

My take: Google wants to minimize the difference between text and image ad units and encourage webmasters to opt in to images on all units.

My response: Don't hurt my bottom line too much Google or I will give up some of your ad placements to competitors that don't force big ugly CTR destroying squares on their text units.

Why don't I opt in to images? The CTR, and payout, is abysmal on these for my niche. It's bad.

One page I have I know has MANY, MANY appropriate ad suppliers, yet what do I get? Ads for Google AdWords.

Add google to the blocked domain list.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 7:21 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

> The data is in.
> Website is too ugly.

@Sally Stitts

Not so sure. I'm more inclined to think it's AdSense mismanagement and loss of plot as a text ad service. I remember the days before IBA's. When relevant contextual ads were the norm. Been downhill ever since and yes, I blame AdSense for dropping the ball.

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 8:18 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Just looking at some text ads now and that fugly splotch is gone.

Regards...jmcc

denisl

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 8:42 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

The comment made by people above about ugly websites may be true, they may be putting of advertisers. But this would be cause for a steady decline, not an overnight drop.
I don't think anyone is really suggesting that Google have suddenly decided to stop serving relevant ads to ugly sites.

But then - is this all due to a change in targeting by Google, and maybe they have suddenly taken new factors into account.

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 8:56 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Actually ugly sites can convert better than pretty sites. With pretty sites, the adverts blend into the background whereas with ugly sites, they often stand out. The problem is when people who never built a worthwhile website in their lives start making decisions on what they think will be better for users/advertisers.

@Play_Bach Yep. The big flaw with IBA is that its feedback loop is broken - it does not know when a purchase has been made and serves these ads long after the sales opportunity is gone.

Regard...jmcc

jbayabas

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 9:40 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Site ugliness is irrelevant. I know, I have perhaps the most beautiful sites out there that could match CNN's layout. But I too am affected.

I'd pick these ones:

Does not have a dedicated mobile site (don't know how) and Does not update content.

nomis5

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 10:54 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's not fair, but when people shop, looks matter


True but it matters to the people who are shopping. For people wanting to place ads on a website looks count for absolutely nothing. What those people want is an ad placement that earns them money. If an ugly site has a better ROI for an advertiser compared to a pretty, pretty site, they will go for the ugly site every time.

Think of it like this, there are piles of young, very attractive ladies out there with ugly and far older men partners. I wonder what those older and ugly men have in common with each other - could it just be money?

As I understand the problem for SS, it's not that the site gets less views but that it's not converting. i don't believe that G is convincing advertisers to avoid ugly, high converting sites just because they are ugly.

I would concentrate on the site stats first. Are people staying on the pages long enough nowadays? Are they clicking around the site as they previously did? Those are the type of factors which G is looking at when evaluating a site, not its looks.

It may be hard to accept but possibly other websites are doing the same as yours now but just better. Maybe the audience has changed are you are no longer satisfying their needs.

Good luck.

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 11:41 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

For people wanting to place ads on a website looks count for absolutely nothing.

They are essentially shopping too.

i don't believe that G is convincing advertisers to avoid ugly, high converting sites just because they are ugly.

I don't either. I think that Google is catering to what advertisers (and searchers in the case of Panda) have indicated they wanted.

Look, there is actually many, many things on Sally's list that play into my "pretty vs. ugly" site theory. No images, non mobile, HTML 4, etc. They actually all play tiny roles in affecting how the site is perceived by visitors and advertisers.

And let's even take it one step further. If Google wants to place money on a winning horse(s) for future growth, are they going to put the money on a site that has shown it is not likely to improve or on a site that has shown it will. I do not mean to be rude to Sally (nice lady, wonderful comments and advice, I am sure the info on her site is great), but as a business you cannot just say "I ain't gonna change". No matter what the excuse is behind it, you can't say that and expect the world to continue to love you. And that goes times 10 on the web.

Google is gentrifying the web. It sucks for all those great old sites that still look like they came out of year 2000 (or older). Its not fair. But this attitude is not unique to Google, just Google complying with public opinion.

Like many things in life, what people say and what people do are two different things. People may convert better on ugly sites, but what they want is pretty sites. For example,pop-ups work really well, but I dare you to find a single person who likes them.

[edited by: hannamyluv at 11:46 am (utc) on May 9, 2014]

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 11:42 am on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

double post. sorry.

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 12:22 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is this a new option in the Allow & block ads>Ad Serving section?

"Text ads
Enhanced text ads - show performance-enhancing features on text ads."

Regards...jmcc

avalon37

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 12:37 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

So Google, after only 8 days, reverts back to the "old" (obviously better text ad design). I'm so surprised (100% sarcasm). This should be so embarrassing for one of the largest companies in the world, yet it speaks once again to their lack of testing and process. Already today, earnings are better than all of yesterday. I will say I am surprised they switched back so soon - the number must have been even worse than I would have predicted.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 12:59 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't think it's a question of pretty or ugly sites as much as professional or unprofessional when dealing with professional topics, like finance or medicine. There is a lot of competition in those areas, and some of it is pretty and scummy and some is pretty and great and some is ugly and great, and I'm not entirely sure how a bot is supposed to figure out what is what.

User metrics are probably pretty important. And that slides me into my second point - once or twice a year, my developer partner and I sit down and figure out what we're going to do to *improve* the user experiences on the sites. I'm not talking about adding content, I'm talking how to make it easier, faster, more comprehensive, overall more useful. We brainstorm a dozen or so ideas, and pick two to four of them to implement, without regard to ROI. And then we TELL the users that we've done it and what the benefits to them will be (and leave comments open so we get a lot of atta girls) I have no idea if it has any direct effect on the SERPs or earnings, but it seems to have a pretty good effect on the audience, and sharing.

(Plus every site, no matter what it is or whose it is, can always be improved. Every one. All of em. No exceptions.)

FWIW.

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 1:04 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

as much as professional or unprofessional

I think that is a much better and more succinct way of putting it.

webcentric

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 4:36 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is this a new option in the Allow & block ads>Ad Serving section?

"Text ads
Enhanced text ads - show performance-enhancing features on text ads."


Uh, NO it's not new. It's been the basis of many a conversation on this board for months now.

webcentric

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 4:42 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

So Google, after only 8 days, reverts back to the "old" (obviously better text ad design). I'm so surprised (100% sarcasm). This should be so embarrassing for one of the largest companies in the world, yet it speaks once again to their lack of testing and process. Already today, earnings are better than all of yesterday. I will say I am surprised they switched back so soon - the number must have been even worse than I would have predicted.


I'm surprised it took this long. The sad, mad fact of all this is that that design was tested prior to release. Several webmasters reported seeing them quite awhile before they foisted this ill-conceived product onto their entire beta-testing community (er, I mean publisher community). Funny how they won't test their own stupidity on their own platforms first (never saw big, fat ugly arrows in the SERPS for example). Wonder why? Well, actually it doesn't take a brain surgeon to answer that question.

Added: the equally sad fact is that we've probably not seen the end of this ugly arrow concept. My guess is that it will reappear once they think they've fixed it. And, once again, I'll say it. Give me back underlined hyperlinks! If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

ember

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4667727 posted 5:37 pm on May 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Give me back underlined hyperlinks! If it ain't broke, don't fix it!


If the underlined links had been working, or had been working as well as they used to work, then they would have kept them and not ventured into the arrows.

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