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My daily pageviews have tanked (down 50%), yet I've made over double this month what I did 2 months ago. Last month was a record month as well, with a more than 50% boost in earnings from 2 months ago.
What have I done that helped so much? Over the past two months, I've taken a number of steps (one at a time, watch it for a while), each of which has seemed to help my particular case out:
1) Moved my top banner from the top of the page, to the top of the conent (below the nav). This helped a lot. My guess is that people just skipped right over it, and it's pays better than the other ads on the page.
2) Got rid of an annoying right-side ad, and underperforming bottom. I had a rather large right-side google ad, which had a really really horrible click through rate. I got rid of both of these ads, instead placing a single ad inside the content itself. I have it using 4 contrasting color schemes.
3) I redesigned several of my better earning site's layouts. I switched to an XHTML/CSS layout, and made it real easy for google to tell what my site was about. I also made the sites significantly less ugly. People seem get more relevant ads, and are more likely to stay around for a while and actually click the ad, instead of just leaving.
Long story short: my CTR has gone from an average of 0.7% to an average of 2%, my CPM has gone from an average of $0.48, to $1.40, and I'm making double the money with half the pageviews (the content's not as fresh as it could be, but that's because I don't control the content).
If all goes well, I may start doing this full-time soon.
[edited by: cyt0plasm at 12:59 am (utc) on June 1, 2005]
(And for those of you concerned about the Google TOS, yes, you don't have to go back to the AdSense Ad Layout control board everytime you change code and cut and paste the whole thing in. So long as the final code is identical to what Google generated, you're fine.)
How do you feel these changes affected your site cosmetically?
I know for a lot of AdSensers, myself included, the inclination has been to generate less money, but retain a high-quality "feel" to the site.
There are several changes you can easily make to boost income 2 to 4-fold, but there can be an underlying destruction to the site in the long term due to the advertising "de-valuing" the site from a user perspective.
I've got a small, very part-time site, and in May recorded my best total earnings ever--about $430, over $100 more than my best previous month. I've been in the program for a year and a half and "smart pricing" had dropped my earnings as low as $136 last September.
What brought it back up? In the fall, I moved the one ad unit I use--a narrow skyscraper--from the right to the left of most pages. That doubled CTR. I've tried AdSense on different areas of the site and removed it from ones where it didn't do well.
In May, I followed incrediBill's advice and tried Adlinks. I was able to integrate a block nicely into my home page. It's bringing in about 20% of my total income and doesn't seem to reduce clickthrough to other parts of the site--it's just capturing some people who would be leaving the site anyway. AND I UN-blocked some advertisers, which had the immediate effect of increasing EPC.
I also tried an Adlinks block on a well-visited page where the skyscraper wasn't doing well, and found that it did even worse, so I don't think I'll be adding AdLinks blocks throughout the site.
If current trends continue, June will be a $500 month. I'm going to continue to experiment and add content.
I'm just the webmaster - I don't write content. Technically, I don't do design either, but I decided to take the initiative. Nobody is arguing with more revenue, that's for sure :)
> How do you feel these changes affected your site cosmetically?
Actually, I find the sites to be more visually appealing now. I replaced 2 obnoxious ads with a tasteful one, and on the pages I redesigned, there is the same number of ads, but it's done more tastefully.
It's like I get to have my cake and eat it too.