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Initially the site was all made in Microsoft Frontpage. My own silly design. Typical early 90s web design stuff. Without knowing much about Adsense placement etc, I experimented and started making good revenue.
Later, the site grew, traffic increased (mostly S traffic), and I kept the placement of the ads the same, but made the design a bit more professional. Cleaner, easier on the eyes.
Last year - end 2008 - I came to dislike that too, and switched over to WordPress with a great-looking design. The ad placement remained the same, didnt want to mess with what was working. But now its more colorful, more professional...
What I can see now when I look at Adsense reports is this:
The pages with the old design, which I left alone (didnt redesign them due to url-change issues) still get a high CTR.
The later design gets say 70 % of what pages with the oldest design makes.
The latest, professional design, at best, makes 40 % of what the original design did.
This has remained consistent across different topics in the site. (So it is not based on some industries paying well etc). In any topic, the bad design gets much more clicks on the ads - and revenues too - than the new designs.
Wondering if I have to go back to the past to regain the clicks I am surely losing out on!
Navigation is a tricky matter depending on your audience. Some sites of mine perform better with X navigation than the others with a different navigation. This is in terms of navigation only but still related to adsense.
Now, more related is considering the "ugly" term for a website as a site you just find and leave. Its been mentioned as performing better as people might use the ads as a way out of an ugly site.
Being ugly or not, ads are a click out of your website. I would consider somehow pretty navigation and sites as a "stay here" and ugly sites as a "leave please". So you might perform better for a while, while the visitors leave and traffic comes down perhaps.
now we have to ask if those 20 percent of prospective visitors reflect the other 80 percent in their general browsing behavior, style preferences, needs.
i think it is quite possible that the click-happy audience has very different requirements in terms of website design. namely an ugly design doesn't mind at all or likely even entices them to look what the ads have to offer. this is also my experience as a webmaster. they seem to simply not care, moreover it seems they are rather distracted by good looking design.
on the other hand, people that don't click on ads at all are probably the more web experienced who don't like ads in general and find what they are looking for anyway without the help of contextual advertisements.
with an adsense only business, it would indeed make sense to concentrate with content, design and navigation on the small fraction of ad clickers. now if we would really know their preferences..
Pretty much what I am worried about too. If I need to make money, I need to 'please' the clickers and favour their layout. If I need to build loyalty and brand, I lose revenue as the design which appeals to them and engages them do not bring ad clicks from neither them, not the clickers.
It will be ridiculous if I end up with very nice traffic figures and no ad clicks!
So much crap is discussed about the best web designs nowadays that we may loose sight of the fact that relevant information displayed clearly in easy to understand language is king. Relevant pictures add value as well.
So, optimise your plain, old-fashioned static site for Adsense, in a clear and uncluttered manner and it will always out out-perform the web guru's site. Forget the flash, forget RSS feeds,just give them the widget information they are searching for.
Ugly doesn't work, but plain old-fashioned clear information does.
He has a site from me since 2004. The site works well, brings him new clients.
But he is an artist, and he wanted, that I make a new site together with a graphican. The graphican had absolut no experience in good web sites. He wanted only a very few pages in flash, had no idea about search engines. So I had to protect my client from this mad ideas.
Best part, I showed him my site, he told me how terrible this site is.
My site brought me since June 2004 nearly 140.000,-EUR. I think when he would design my page, even 140.-EUR in 5 years would be very optimistic.
I just slapped a rectangle adsense block smack under the headline - something I have avoided always. Looks stupid. But it's getting clicks. Let's see in a few days.
It's too early to talk about the results - but interesting to see that a lot of ads that appear in the rectangle box are image ads, not text ads. That is better to look at, as long as the colors or animation are not irritating.
Secondly, the clicks on these ads (which may be mostly images) lead me to think that my visitors are not as fastidious about the in-your-face ads as I am. Now, If I am dealing with people who do not mind it, perhaps I should continue - after all the site is used by them, not me. And so far the ads are bringing in a substantial number of clicks which, if it continues, would be too tempting.
If you check the Jensense site there are few posts about the policy update, it looks like Google later clarified some of the more vague terms.
I remember thinking that blog style sites could cover their arses with the small post details box under the title.
I did have a consultation with someone from Adsense in the USA. I implemented their exact suggestions on a section of my site to try it even though I thought it was a bit too much. Within a couple weeks, I got a notice from a Google person in another country saying I violated terms on one of those pages. I never could get either person to reply to me or know if they could communicate with each other or if different countries have different rules so I went back to earlier stuff. You always have to be careful of what anyone says and make your own judgments.
I just slapped a rectangle adsense block smack under the headline - something I have avoided always. Looks stupid. But it's getting clicks.
While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies.....
Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way. For instance, publishers may not place ads under misleading headers or titles as this may confuse users into thinking the ads are actually site links related to that header. To avoid this issue, we ask that publishers use only "sponsored links" or "advertisements" to label ads...
Please make any necessary changes to your webpages in the next 72 hours...
If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site...
I put a short block of text (article summary) between the heading and first ads block. Seems Google are happy with that.