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Sudden drop in CTR

Started 3 weeks ago

     
12:12 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hello,

I am one of those people that have seen their earnings plummet since the onset of May. For some reason my CTR halved practically overnight. It has not recovered since. The ad inventory is unchanged, as are the ad colors. I am getting many new visitors (~80%), and traffic is beter than it has even been.

What is going on here? Is adsense goofing up on me?

1:15 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That's exactly what happened to me too ... starting from May 3rd on

Everything is exactly same as before (I absolutely didn't change anything, and traffic is better than ever), but CTR halved overnight.

SO WEIRD!

2:14 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This whole month has also been a disaster for me. The lowest CTR I've ever seen in 5 years!
11:38 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My CTR is about the same as it has been for years, but my eCPM has risen lately. Then again, eCPM goes up and down from time to time as well, so I expect it will drop a bit sooner or later. For me things haven't significantly changed for a number of years now.
2:26 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Same here, exact same scenario as OP. I wish we could get more clarification on this from Google.
4:28 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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do you have the ads based on surfing history on or off? That went live just a few weeks ago.
5:22 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I recently turned it off but that does not seem to have made any difference :-(
6:00 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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For some reason my CTR halved practically overnight.

That's a pretty big drop. It might be helpful if you'd share some basic information, such as:

1) Type of site (editorial content site, forum, e-commerce site, or...?).

2) Number and placment of AdSense ad units.

3) Topic (in a general way--e.g., "finance," "automotive," "B2B").

4) Type of traffic (mostly new visitors, mostly repeat visitors, or lots of both?).

5) Have there been any other changes of note in the past fet weeks, such as your page design or search referrals and rankings?

We'll all be guessing even if you do supply more information, but at least we'll be making educated guesses.

6:14 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This month is a low earnings month for me too ... Its a very big drop .. more than 60%
7:23 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I am getting many new visitors (~80%), and traffic is beter

These two things could account for a pretty big prortion of the drop in CTR.

By traffic do you mean unique visitors, include repeat visitors, or do you mean an increase in page views?

A spike in repeat traffic can easily lead to a drop in CTR. An increase in page views per visit can do the same thing.

And has there been any change in the source of the traffic?

Sometimes a switch in traffic sources can be hard to spot because you might not be looking for it. A drop from one source and an increase from another can mask the change. So if those new visitors are from a new source, even if they are from a spike in the serps for some longtail term, it can make a huge difference quickly.

8:37 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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1) Type of site (editorial content site, forum, e-commerce site, or...?).

Editorial content; largely static. It also has a news section.

2) Number and placment of AdSense ad units.

1 big rectangle under the title, 1 horizontal adlink unit underneath the post and on long pages, one additional horizontal adlink unit within the post.

3) Topic (in a general way--e.g., "finance," "automotive," "B2B").

Energy.

4) Type of traffic (mostly new visitors, mostly repeat visitors, or lots of both?).

like I said; 80% new, 20% repeat.

5) Have there been any other changes of note in the past fet weeks, such as your page design or search referrals and rankings?

Rankings for my major keyword have dropped a bit, but they have soared across the longtail-board. Earnings were however affected before this ranking shift.
9:31 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This is pure hypothesis, but I wonder if the sudden increase in traffic, both overall and in the "long tail," might not be the problem. Here's my thinking on the two points:

INCREASE IN TRAFFIC: There may only so many higher-paying contextual ads to go around, and if your traffic increases faster than the supply of good ads, you may be getting a higher percentage of lower-paying or less relevant CPC ads, or a higher percentage of lower-paying CPM ads.

INCREASE IN "LONG-TAIL" TRAFFIC SPECIFICALLY: You said rankings have dropped a bit for your major keyword but have soared across the long tail. In theory, at least, this could mean lower average earnings per click, because a two- or three-word phrase like "chocolate iced doughnuts" probably doesn't fetch as much as a keyword like "doughnuts." (You didn't say anything about EPC, and you said that earnings went down before the rankings shift, so maybe this possibility isn't relevant.)

11:40 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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EPC has certainly dropped. Traffic is up ~10 to 20%.
11:46 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If EPC has dropped and overall traffic isn't up massively (10-20% is good but shouldn't be game-changing), then I'd bet on the "long-tail" hypothesis.
12:29 am on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Let's see how this will turn out... Rankings for my main word have rebounded to an all-time high (3rd position), so if the "long-tail" hypothesis is correct, earnings should rapidly follow suit. Today they apparently have, which is a good sign.

I should however wait and see how this will hold up. I'll keep you posted.

6:20 pm on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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After running google ads for over a year and making anywhere from $250.00 to $1000.00 per month google out of the blue dropped me as a publisher sighting me a risk to there advertisers. Here is what I thing Google is hard up for money because of the economy they still owe me over $1000.00 for my last 2 months of publishing.

BEWARE OF GOOGLE THEY WILL RIP YOU OFF

6:34 pm on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Ouch, sorry to hear that. However, as far as I know, Google will pay you the remainder of your credit. I believe they only withhold payment if you're booted due to illegal click activity.
7:41 pm on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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BEWARE OF GOOGLE THEY WILL RIP YOU OFF

It sounds like Google is trying to protect its advertisers from being ripped off. That may not be good news for you (and it's obviously annoying if you've done nothing wrong), but Google may have legitimate reasons for its decision, such as an unusually high number of clicks that aren't converting or are seen as unlikely to convert for advertisers. And as Johnnie says, you'll probably be paid the monies that are owed you as long as Google doesn't have reason to suspect click fraud.

7:44 pm on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google is hard up for money

No they're not!

Nonetheless sorry to here of your predicament and good luck.

 

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