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To retune content, you've got to see how the world has changed since that content was originally written, and see things through fresh eyes. One way to do this is "log walking", which forces you to look at your website like one of your visitors does, and can quickly give you lots of ideas about how to tweak and retune existing content that may only need a small change to increase its profitability. Many AdSensers pore over their logs only with high-level tools like Google Analytics, seeing their visitors only as vague statistics. Log walking will put you in your visitors' shoes, one at a time, and you'll be unable to view them as anything but individuals. It's a fresh perspective.
First, you need a recent day's worth of raw web logs, those big ol' ASCII files that record every page anyone fetches from your website, one fetch per line. They look a little like gobbledygook, but it only takes little effort to see the various parts; you can learn details of that skill elsewhere. Second, you need a web browser so you can look various things up. Beyond that, all you need is your brain and imagination.
Log walking is labor-intensive and has a lot of randomness in it (just like your visitors). But it's a counter-balance to numbing statistics that AdSensers spend too much time staring at, statistics that round the behavior of real people down so much that useful information is lost. Real people come to your website to perform a specific task, and if you can't put yourself in their shoes, you probably can't do a good job of designing your website to meet their needs. Also, no matter what you designed your web pages for, Google is going to refer visitors based on what Google thinks your web pages are designed for. To whatever degree those two different understandings are out of sync (and they're rarely in complete agreement), there will be lost opportunities.
Even log walks chosen completely at random can give you useful insights, but over time you can learn to take targeted log walks to get the best return for your time. For example, AdSense Channels can help you identify pages that are getting lots of impressions, but low profitability. But log walking, where you choose only requests directed at those low-profit pages, can quickly help you identify why they are not profitable, and give you some ideas of what to do about it.
Another application is the situation of a page whose profits are increasing. You might think that's a time to leave well enough alone, but increasing profits may point to a rising in the SERPs for particular keywords -- and those may be keywords the page was not particularly designed to target. The case of a page that's moving up in the rankings may be a golden opportunity to retune, and add additional relevant content that the rising page can help elevate along with it.
If you're a content creator and your AdSense revenues have hit a plateau you just can't budge, try some log walking. It's guaranteed to make you look at old content in a new way.
I can't rank number one for "red widgets." I can, however, make a concerted effort to rank number one for "making red widgets using recycled thing-a-ma-bobs" and this is where logs become invaluable.
Log walking. I like that. Excellent post Ron.
There are various tools on the web (ask around if you don't know them) that can give you a rough idea of what company that IP address belongs to, and where it is located in the world.
Okay, anyone care to suggest one of these tools?
Is that page rising or falling in traffic? (If your fancy stat tool doesn't offer standard variance or similar estimates of significance, you may just be fooling yourself about the answer to that question.)
I'm curious now- whose fancy stat tool Does do this? Any suggestions here?
On my own site, in order to make sure that I capture ideas from users who came to my site looking for something I don't quite have on the site, I have a link at the bottom of every post that says "Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Ask one of our experts."
Chances are, if they are asking the question, not only could they not find it on my site, but they could not find it in the SERPs either. So, it is an easy to fill hole with little competition.
I then take the question, look at my log files to see which keywords apply to that topic from people who came to the site (because if one asks the question, another 10 landed on the site and did not ask) and have a writer write the content based on that topic and those keywords. Then link the original article and the new one to each other.
Not only does this add new content to the site that answers the visitor's questions, but strengthens the original page with better internal linking.
We get hundreds of questions now and almost exclusively write content based on the visitor questions now. It has been very effective for finding holes on our information, or identifying changes to the topic.
I recently did this with one of my sites and it had an impressive impact on the rankings. What was disturbing is there were many errors (spelling, etc) and not one visitor ever took the time to let me know (probably not wanting to offend). I swear those errors were not there when I published the content :)
May I also suggest giving Microsoft adCenter Publisher program a try. For me, it pays the same or more than Adsense on most of my sites and on the bigger ones, it pays double (no kidding here!).
The CTR is less, but the payout is more and that equates to less people leaving my site.
I still use Google on the sites that Microsoft can't match.
I use my log tool almost every day, it's an invaluable resource. I know what visitors download, pages they come in on and leave, search keywords, came from, popular pages that don't pay or pay well, how long they stay on the site, which page they clicked ads. I pay for statcounter, 25k level. Well worth it.
One thing to add - I also take notes from visitor feedback and adjust the site accordingly. It may be adding images they're looking for to text-only articles, it may be adding content they are requesting, etc. With a small site it's not possible b/c of uneven feedback, but as long as you're big enough to get a few contacts a day, it's enough to have a good sample to start modifying content.
Created a special database
Coded so that every page visit is tracked (consider this the table fields):
- Date and Time
- Referrer URL
- Target Page
- Time On Page
Now, the data is further processed by an offline app, which gives me:
xx ip accessed xx page xx times with most visits on monday.
xx page got the maximum visits during time 6:00:01 PM - 6:30:15 PM
Google.com visits: 210
Google Other Visits: 219 (Google's country specific engines)
Top Google's Country Specific Engine: google.de
Other Search Engine Visits: 156
Other Referrer Visit:76
Top 10 Referrers:
Top 10 Keywords from Google.com:
Top 10 Keywords from Google Other:
Top 10 Keywords from Non-Google Engines:
-> Clicking further on a keyword takes me to:
... Keyword Most Usage Days: 2nd Aug, 4th Aug, 14th Aug,...
... Keyword Most Usage Time Frame: 10:32:10 PM to 11:20:54 PM
Since I coded this thing, I just read through the data and I know what to do next :)