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Since I didn't have much to lose anyway, I experimented all summer. I've tried many of the tactics talked about here, some of my own, and none of them have worked. As a matter of fact, they made things worse.
Here's what I tired:
Blocked lots of sites that seemed spammy and mfa - my price per click plummeted and my ctr plummeted, too.
Removed an ad unit from each page - this didn't increase the value of my clicks, it just reduced the number of clicks.
Replaced removed ad unit space with a Referal Ad Unit - Zero clicks out of several thousand impressions.
Replaced removed ad unit space with an affiliate link - Maybe one click out of several thousand impressions. No sales.
My 120 x 90 link unit was getting a lot of clicks so I replaced my four link unit with a five link unit - ctr for that unit fell dramatically.
The last thing I experimented with was taking Adsense off the pages my own products are sold from. I don't buy things from people who have Adsense on the same pages as their products, I've heard many of you say you think that looks cheesy, so it made sense to remove those ads. Well, I sold fewer of those products than ever before and I missed out on the extra Adsense revenue, too.
I was very scientific about these experiments. I tried one thing at a time and collected statistics for several weeks after I changed something.
I've put the link and ad units back to the way they were in the Spring. Things are picking up. Life is good. I've learned a lot.
My visitors, bless them, like big fonts, lots of Ads, and especially can't resist those ads for sites that offer a free product if they follow a "reward path". They are perfectly willing to buy my products if there are Adsense ads on the pages that sell them, and will probably click an ad if they don't.
I love my visitors. I can kick back and be very lazy about all this. No more tweaking. I'm just gonna write lots and lots of good content and plug it into my template, which is what I really love to do anyway. :)
For example, when you block ads (for whatever reason), it takes maybe even millions of impressions for adsense to really learn what kind of ads from thousands ads available perform well on your pages.
Let's say you have 100 pages with adsense. And you test something new with 100,000 impressions. That's only (100,000/100=) 1000 impressions per page. Let's say there are 100 possible ads for each page, it means (1000/100=) 10 views per each possible ad. That's clearly not enough views for adsense to really know if that ad is good for your site.
This is what works for my site, my niche, and my visitors. I'm perfectly willing to be an anomaly.
We have had AdSense on our site since Day One and have achieved consistent results, except for a few weird periods, over the years. We add content constantly -- reader comments, our own writers' efforts and a little bit of syndicated copy -- and fiddle very little with the AdSense ads. We are always trying other ad networks; some are OK but nothing even comes close to the Big G.
Same result as yourself. It's almost as if the big G has decided how much they'll give me for each page. I ended up just altering things to make the site prettier and for me that didn't reduce the G-money.
Though my niche is small and I can only get what the advertisers are paying (less the stuff MFA are getting and the G cut).
The main reason I posted about this is that it surprised me and I'm still trying to digest it! After several months of working on tweaking my ads, I'm right back where I started. My visitors come to my site to read my work. That's what brings them in and it's the reason they stay. They don't mind ads; they even seem to like them.
And that's fine. It's great, really. Now I can go back to writing content without any nagging suspicions that I could be earning more if only I could get the ads right.
I've learned tons and tons in the process, and I thank you all for sharing your knowledge. Most of all, though, I've learned where and how to focus on my site to make it even more profitable and that's right where I started in the first place. I guess all good journeys begin and end at home.
Click your heels together three times, Dorothy. :)
In that time you have conducted many experiments. Looking back at the experiments I have done on my sites, I've noticed that real results or failures are only apparent after 3 to 6 months. In less than one year of Adsense it may be that you have not allowed your changes to realise their true results before another change has obscured if they have failed or succeded.
Of this I am sure (many times over), if you make a sitewide change, over the next couple of weeks you will see a significant improvement or decline in earnings. I have no idea why. But in the months following the change you will then see the real result of those changes. Some are good, some are bad. Significant changes to a site take several months before you know if they are good or bad. And this advice comes from someone who is earning from my own sites and not from an SEO optimiser. It does take a few months before you can judge if a change is good or bad.
I will mention one more thing I did that was informative and interesting. I put a little pixel on each page from a company who looks at visitor's demographics. That was really useful to me. Learned a lot about my visitors that I never would have guessed and now I'm using that info to help guide the development of some areas of content.
if you make a sitewide change, over the next couple of weeks you will see a significant improvement or decline in earnings. I have no idea why. But in the months following the change you will then see the real result of those changes.
I believe you. I don't have a lot of experience at this. My conclusions are based on my limited knowledge of how statistics work, and I'm assuming that a "small" sample can represent a much larger trend. It's not that simple, though.
Based on what you say, I'm never going to be able to test a change completely because I don't have that kind of patience! So, I'm gonna go with what I've got. And I'm a lot wiser from the effort.
I think you are quite right about your conclusions. Also the size of the data set seems appropriate to me. Only recently I came to the conclusion to let Google do its work and serve ads without my interference. Though I really hate to see all those parked pages advertised through my sites (well knowing that someone out there makes a living from doing virtually nothing while we have to pay for content development) I stopped blocking this crap because it's too much effort to find the new parked sites. Also, it did not increase the payout or total revenue. So my visitors have to live with the fact that Google likes to sell ads to crap companies. Well, that's the way it is. So I can lean back and focus on content development.
Anyway, excellent post.
IMO You got most of it right.
It makes no sense to keep on tweaking. Experiment a bit and then stabilize things. Adsense works best in a stable environment. As Zett says it takes a while for G to find the correct ads and they do get it right most times. Some MFA's can't be avoided.
Adsense on e commerce site is hotly debated on this forum. What works with some does not work with others. For my e commerce site, I feel adsense adds value by providing other avenues for surfers as I work on a very specific niche. Some surfers see adsense as a measure of ' professionalism' and 'trust'. They have told me so.
Adding more good content ensures repeat vistors, so that is the right way to go.
Best of luck..