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Redesigned Homepage CTR triples, per click revenue drops over 70%

     
10:31 pm on Jul 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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We took a site we've had for more than 5 years which had good content but a simple, slightly ugly design and gave it a face lift. The homepage in particular we changed as we are trying to make this site an authority in it's niche and we've had much greater success attracting nature links with "pretty" sites, particularly in this specific niche.

So we launch the new design and everything is going well, we held or improved rankings for all our main search terms, traffic is slightly improved and things are looking good. Then we realize that the homepage CTR rate has more than tripled. Great news right? Wrong. Earnings per click have been steady in this niche for well over a year. The homepage is currently earning less than 30% of that rate. Every other page on the site has maintained the previous earnings per click.

I figured that the improved CTR might have set off some red flags and we should just wait it out. But now it's been almost 3 weeks and no change. I know almost every advertiser in this niche and it's the same ads loading on the homepage and internal pages, they are just paying much more off the homepage. I'm a day or two away from pulling the Adsense off the homepage completely and hope someone can share some knowledge about this situation.
10:57 pm on July 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Could the changes be so drastic that your home page has been smart priced until a conversion rate can be confirmed? If that's the case then the prices should creep back up if your traffic is converting for the adverstisers in the same way as your internal pages that have a bit of history with them.
11:49 pm on July 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Could the changes be so drastic that your home page has been smart priced until a conversion rate can be confirmed?


I've had that happen before when we redesigned a site but previously it didn't take close to this long and the difference was never this extreme. I just checked my daily stats and home page has more than 3 times as many clicks as the content pages, yet has earned 40% less revenue.

That's just a tough pill to swallow.
11:56 pm on July 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This happens to us, too. If we move the ad block or redesign a page, the ctr is usually affected. If it goes up, the per click revenue drops. If the the ctr goes down, the per click revenue increases. It always roughly works out to the same amount of money as before. I just figure Google has determined what it wants to pay us and there is nothing we can do to change that.
12:54 am on July 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I redesigned last year right before my busy season, and had my worst year ever. Could be a coincidence, could be not. But after a few months the earnings came back with a vengeance, to alltime high. Anecdotal, yes. But next time I redesign,I'm going to allow for a 3-6 month possible drop in earnings.

Hope for the best, expect the worst.
4:23 am on July 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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About a year ago I did a layout redesign, which had associated with it a significant improvement in Adsense CTR.

Adsense actually emailed me (I posted here about it) telling me they anticipated that up coming changes in their algo (SmartPricing algo I guess) would probably hurt my earnings significantly (It seems they thought my CTR was unnaturally high).

Nothing really ever materialized (nor did it seem to with two other people that I found that had been contacted by Adsense with the same letter).

Now this year, I've instituted what I thought was a "better for the advertiser / better for the visitor" layout (which had associated with it an expected lower CTR) on about 1/4 of my pages. As of late last month eCPM has plummeted. You've got to love working with Adsense.
3:41 am on July 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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To update, revenue remains way down for the site but we've decided to try and wait it out. The redesign has already attracted a few new natural links and visitors are staying on the site longer and viewing more pages. The older ugly version made about 65% more revenue at this point, but hopefully in the long run more links, more page views and in theory more visitors will win the day.
9:09 am on July 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebPixie, wait till the end of August / beginning of September. Different season etc.
4:50 am on July 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This happens to us, too. If we move the ad block or redesign a page, the ctr is usually affected. If it goes up, the per click revenue drops. If the the ctr goes down, the per click revenue increases. It always roughly works out to the same amount of money as before. I just figure Google has determined what it wants to pay us and there is nothing we can do to change that.


I concur with this observation. It is a result I have observed on many occasions during experimentation.

I also have concluded that it is a site wide phenomenon (in my case at least), in the sense that adding Adsense blocks to other pages on my site causes the overall CPC revenue to drop and overall earnings to level out to where they were. Sometimes I have observed a further reduction in overall revenue after adding these extra Adsense units.
6:37 am on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For a long time I've seen the "CTR down EPC up" and vice versa phenomenon.

Apart from that? I'm still "rusted" on to the idea of change nothing.

YMMV
7:01 pm on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I see the same as Scurramunga and ember. We did a redesign earlier this year. The CTR increased but the earnings remained the same. I also added more ad blocks, used a better size and placed it on better positions.

Even if my number of visitors drop or rise my earnings remain the same.
 

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