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The problem is that about two months ago my payment per click dropped. I'd been averaging about 80c (between 74 and 86) for quite a while, but in February this dropped to 54c and March 46c. Far from ideal! (yes, I do realise this is a relatively high amount per click).
Am I a victim of smart pricing? Any ideas what I can do? There's nothing I can do I can think of to improve the "quality" of my site. It's definitely no MFA, it's a high quality site which the users and vendors love. I would assume conversions are pretty good as I attract people at the buying stage.
So what to do?
You might want to augment your income with affiliates and maybe even get one of the widget makers to sponsor your site annually if you have the SERPS and the traffic.
There are a lot of ways to make money other than 100% AdSense.
Diversify a bit and you'll sleep better at night.
Have you studied what phrases were being queried to reach your site over the last year and compared that to the phrases being used to access your site in March?
Have you studied year over year earnings and traffic patterns for March to spot any patterns?
You really should do that first before getting into a panic about being smart priced. I'm surprised you have been this stable for years.
Or is your benchmark not year over year, but based on less than a year?
Has your CTR held steady or has it changed?
I haven't studied trends in what phrases people are using to reach my site, I do look at those reports frequently but I admit I haven't compared them to previous ones. I haven't anecdotally noticed anything different. It's mostly "fred's widget review" and "buy joe's widget" type stuff, a few thousand of them.
Site has been live for about a year, so not based on a long term. ECPM has gone down roughly in proportion with the payment per click.
So are people saying that significant changes in payment per click that last multiple months is normal and to be expected? I don't obsess on a day by day or even week by week, I know that it fluctuates over time, but a definite trend over a few months has me a little worried.
Am I Being Smart Priced?
Did you change anything in recent months? Ad placement? Size? Colors? Number of ad units? Anything? If nothing, I see no basis for smartpricing. If Google had discerned your site should be sp'd, it would have done it long ago, esp. when you're high in the SERPs, or get a lot of traffic.
Not sure, but I tend to think smart pricing would involve a much more dramatic drop, e.g., to one or two cents per click, although it could depend on the industry.
P.S. Have you asked Google if you were sp'd? :/
why does everyone on here sell "widget"?
is that just code for a real product, or is everyone here really a widget pusher?
"Widget" is frequently used in texts and speech to indicate a hypothetical "any-product," (usually in Economics) but has declined in use in favor of specific, "real," more easily understood examples.
Half the people here probably want to inappropriately promote their sites (get some SEO benefits from linking from here), the other half don't want people to know their niche. Between those two groups, widgets is very convenient.
why does everyone on here sell "widget"?
It's smart not to say what your niche is, and instead use "widgets", because if you are doing well and you say "my site is raking in the bucks and it's about X, Y, and Z", you might find an influx of other competing sites targeting your site/niche very shortly.
It's also easier to discuss sometimes when you don't get into specifics.
There are times where we might have to use specific topics, like somebody having site targeting problems - in that instance I would use a fairly general topic though, such as they have a site about Ford Mustangs, but are getting targeted by AdSense for Mustang horses. There are a billion sites about both of those topics, so I think they are fairly safe to use as examples.
It's not that anybody responding to you is thinking "Oh, they have a site about X, Y, and Z, and are doing well, I'm going to go create a site about the same topics", it's that you do get the spammers and MFAs that do read WebmasterWorld and they are always looking to find new ways to make money. Ripping you off is one of them.
Basically, don't ever give away your bread and butter.