SmallP - 4:20 pm on Apr 17, 2011 (gmt 0)
I don't post much but I wanted to let you know that you aren't the only one this is happening to. In my case the drop happened in mid-November and income has been down 40-55% on the previous year ever since. Traffic is not the same - it was up significantly throughout November, December, January and Febuary then steady in March and April.
eCPM has plummeted, and I've been told that I've been smartpriced .... ironically, it is apparently probably because of my best-performing ad placement, which I carefully put just under the heading on each of my 6000+ pages on 5 separate sites after it was suggested to me about 3 year's back by the optimization team. This is now, presumably post-Panda, regarded as a questionable position.
I wonder if a similar thing has happened to you - especially as you say some of your designs are quite dated? It really does seem that sites are now being judged by how they look in addition to (or perhaps rather than) the content they contain. Having said that, there still appears to be a big disconnect between what Adsense wants us to do and what Google Search expects from us.
I haven't quite worked out what to do yet. Like you, I used to be scared to make any changes because the sites were working fine just like they were. Now I have various choices. I can a) accept that my income has dropped to depressing levels and keep on in the same way, adding more quality content to sites which are no longer as popular with Google as they were, but which are still popular with my loyal visitors. Or I can b) redesign the sites, change each and every page, and move that prime position ad placement. But as that ad placement provides 85% of my (much reduced) Adsense income, and Adsense provides 80% of my income overall, I can't bring myself to rush into it. Not to mention the time it would take to do.
I know I will have to do it eventually. The writing is on the wall - and stares me every day when I log into my Adsense account!
But somehow all the joy of being an internet publisher has been sucked away. Adsense used to be a real joy to me - you put the code in the right places and ads appeared like magic that were really useful to my visitors. They were 100 times better than the banner ads that other networks were showing. Nobody objected to them, they were relevant, and they complemented the subject of each page. They blended in or stood out, depending on how you designed them, and if your page had good content then you could be pretty sure that the adsense ads would be good, too.
Regarding your product sales and Amazon income the only thing I can think of is that Panda/Farmer has affected you somehow, and although you are getting similar traffic levels, the visitors are coming in through different pages of the site, on different keywords, and possibly with different expectations. I find it hard to make sense of my Analytics and to spend the time on going into them with too much detail, too, but have been wondering about buying in an expert's time through Elance or Odesk, to see if they can spot anything obvious that can be changed or improved. Might that be an option for you, too?