hannamyluv - 2:57 am on Aug 17, 2013 (gmt 0)
@scooterdude I am not professionally trained. To be honest, this site when I took it over (only had 100 articles then) I fully intended it to be a "hobby" site. But, part of making the site work well over the past many years includes 1000s of hours of research in the field, so I am certain that if I had the time and energy - and wanted to shell out the money for yet another degree, I could easily get professional certification.
My monthly stats vary widely due to the niche, but at my lowest months, I see just under million visitors a month.
@Inspector Gadget - in my niche, before Panda, there was a site that dominated but looked like it came straight out if the 90s, mainly because it had. In Panda, it got pounded and has never recovered. In my niche, looking at sites that got creamed in the original wave of Panda, looks did seem to play a role.
Add into that the very quick influx of mobile and tablet users over the past few years, design needs to keep up. If you have not updated your design in 8 years, I would challenge you to run a mobile user testing or two. Heck, even just a straight PC test. You will be shocked. Just because a design "works" does not mean it cannot work better. Working better means more money. Frankly, I am of the opinion that there is ALWAYS room for improvement.
You do not need to radically change your site, but a good designer or UI person can give you some great ideas on what to test to tweek your layout to get even more out of your visitors and Adsense. Note: great design or UI people do not cost $500. ;)
Case in point, a simple slight move of an ad on my pages recently, I am talking a couple hundred pixles, resulted in a $1 lift in RPM for the site, which already had a healthy RPM.