Caveat: This post is sure to pull someone's chain the wrong way. I can't say that I really care but I will say that this is one of those, "If the shoe fits, wear it" scenarios.
Why is this relevant to the Adsense forum? Because a fair amount of posters here seem to think that discussions about their rankings in the SERPs is the same thing as discussions about converting a visitor into a customer (in this case, a person who clicks on an ad).
Premise: Getting people to your site is a completely different topic than converting them once they get there. As a chain of events, they are related but as a matter of process, they are two different things and people aught to learn how to separate their fruit from their vegetables and also how to stay on point!
Background: I'll start by saying that I've been designing/developing for the web for almost 15 years now. I have built more websites that I'll ever be able to count (most of which are based on brick and mortar businesses or organizations rather than on topics or keywords). I'm a web programmer, database designer/developer, graphic artist and UX designer. I build custom content management solutions from scratch and use my own solutions for projects rather that throwing up a new Word Press site every time I have a new idea for creating a revenue stream. Having said that, there are many who know far more than me and even far more that know less which makes me just another face in the crowd. The point is, everyone's a web developer these days but you would find my skill-set on the more advanced end of the scale if you cared to look.
SEO What? So everyone wants to be number one in the SERPS. Hurray! If my memory serves me correclty, an entire section of this site is dedicated to that topic and I encourage you to have as much fun or misery with that as you can handle--over there! You may not like to hear it, but, if you spend the majority of your time thinking about how to get to the top of the SERPS, then you're very possibly part of a very large problem that affects us all.
I have never sold my SEO services to a client, EVER! Why you might ask? Because I design sites that search engines like, plain and simple. It's nothing special, just good design, good content and making sure that the needs of my brick and mortar clients and their customers are met. SEO is just a standard component of a well-designed site in my book: not something extra. The only portion of SEO that doesn't fall under good site design is getting good inbound links and to me, if these are natural (i.e. based on natural relationships) then it doesn't take some complex network of sites to get the job done. Most business (if they are willing to collaborate with others in their industry) can build the natural links they need without any help from contrived methods or systems. Promotion, real promotion, is still alive and well and one well-placed testimonial can still be worth its weight in gold.
To all of you who thought it was a good idea to spam/deface someone's forum in pursuit of the almighty dollar/euro/etc, I say, wallow in the results you greedy pig! If you've been spamming people's mail boxes, the epitaphs for you are all over the Internet but I can't post them here. If you thought link farms and your brilliant unnatural linking schemes were the cat's meow, then you need your non-forward-looking eyes scratched out. If you think the Internet exists solely for your personal success, then you have missed the point and you're probably guilty of defacing it in the process. If you're focused on manipulating the search engines to your own ends then you more than likely helped create the very problems you are complaining about these days. The list of injustices to the World-Wide-Web committed by webmasters is far too long to detail here and they range from well-intended to down right despicable. Suffice to say, I've heard enough.
Frankly, if throwing together some new sites because your old ones got trashed in the SERPS is your modus operandi, then your old sites probably deserved to get trashed in the first place because you probably threw them up there with the same attitude i.e. "slap something together, target a bunch of keywords, spam the web and make money." Good for you. Your standards are right up there with the folks who brought us the recent and ongoing global recession, the savings and loan debacle a few decades ago and the Great Depression (just to name a few greed-oriented calamities to befall the human race).
There is an age old question that artists and their audiences are familiar with. It goes something like this. Is real art a product of needing money or the product of needing to create? My answer to this question is that if the primary focus is on making money then the art will suffer. Artists need to eat and it's just a sad fact that for most, not selling out can make that difficult, hence the term, "starving artist." It's not a pretty description but many wear it like a badge of honor and I have a certain level of respect for those that do. Still, there's nothing wrong with being a good business person at the same time, so…
…here's a bit of my personal philosophy when it comes to using the Internet as it relates to my long-term economic agenda and my need to feel like a contributing member of the human race.
1.Consider your interests first. If you want to build a website that makes money, start with a topic that you have a real passion for. If you disregard this, the quality of your work will suffer eventually.
2.Provide real content and services that YOU AND YOUR VISITORS deem relevant to the chosen topic. Avoid fluff at all costs. If it's just filler, let it go! Be useful, stay relevant and care about the quality of the information and the user experience you provide above all else. This is your foundation.
3.Focus on building a long-term relationship with your visitors. Yes, the SERPS can provide a steady stream of fresh eyes and fresh revenue but if you can build a solid base of returning visitors AND AREN'T LAZY about how you market to them (this may be too much to ask but one can always dream), they can provide a substantial and (more importantly) stable revenue stream that won't be subject to the whims of the major search engines.
4.Don't neglect traditional marketing approaches and avoid using any marketing technique that you would personally find offensive, misleading or underhanded Granted, some people will need to raise their standards to achieve this but it should be easy for anyone with a passing degree of empathy to grasp. In other words, are you capable of walking a mile in another man's moccasins?
5.Give the competition a break. Stop worrying about others and just focus on being the best you can be at what you do. People recognize quality and are drawn to it even if a BOT has difficulty with such concepts.
Well, that's a start anyway. Follow the above principles and what you'll have built a nice little rest-stop on the Information Super Highway where your audience can pause and enjoy themselves. Then, you can market to them. One way you'll know if you've done well is if you find yourself spending more time engaged with your site than you do looking at your Adsense account. You may even find that you want take a different approach to monetization, one that doesn't interfere with your own enjoyment of your site and act so unpredictably as Adsense does.
Having said that, you may find that Adsense isn't even a good fit for you. There will always be a lack of control over what is shown on your site with that platform and you may find you can do better with some other approach i.e. selling ad space, promoting an affiliate program related to your audience, etc. This is up to you of course but at least your foundation will be solid and you'll have a lot fewer disinteresting chores to manage.
Conclusion: Building sites just to use them as advertising platforms is a cause. It causes the Search Engines to react and it's no wonder that people are frustrated with a game that keeps changing. Pushing these sites at Search Engines using every White Hat or Black Hat technique known to man or woman and inventing new ones along the way is a driving factor in the way your sites (and mine) are treated in the major indexes. How you get people to your site is your business but someone needs to tell you that it also has an effect on the rest of us. Yes, Google, Bing and Yahoo have their own greedy agendas which makes them a part of the problem too. All in all, SEO is a completely different subject than converting visitors. Build a site you love and then let's talk about how to monetize it. Otherwise, I'd like to suggest that you stick your discussion of SERP's where they really belong.