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Deciding If Adsense Is Right For My Site (Or Not)

     
12:44 am on Jul 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm looking into monetizing some of my informational pages and trying to decide if Adsense is the best method to pursue or whether I should pursue a different (i.e., affiliate-based) method.

Here are some of the characteristics of the information pages for the month of June:

Total Sessions: 16,042
New Users: 14,038

They are evergreen pages and tend to be related to philosophical concepts.

They tend to be more of an introductory article as opposed to a page for scholars.

I have tried to monetize those pages by having links to related ecommerce products (which are on the same domain name), but the conversion rate is less than .1%. It is a horrible conversion rate :(

I imagine that people who visit my site MIGHT be interested possibly in books on the subject, but I guess that is about it.

Any suggestions on what to look at when trying to determine how best to monetize the site would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
12:48 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The best way to tell is to run the gauntlet of applying and getting accepted. Depending on the uniqueness/quality of your site you may not even be able to get in the door. If you have adsense on the entire site you'll probably earn $100 every 1-3 months depending on CTR.
12:48 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The simple answer is....

Just try it. It will either work for you or it won't. The only cost is your time.
1:53 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If they're interested in books then register for an Amazon Affiliate account and create links to those books. Experiment with the different ad units until you are able to dial in the right conversion rate. Sometimes a creating an affiliate link out of the name of a book from within an article can lead to a good conversion rate as well.
2:18 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the input, everyone.

I will look into setting up an adsense account as well as an amazon account.

It sounds like - either way - the earnings will be somewhere between slim to none though.
6:38 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"philosophical concepts" could mean quite a lot of things! Do you mean what an academic would call philosophy or something broader?

Adsense may find you ads for things that you did not thing of and which are not likely to offer affiliate schemes: education ads can produce quite good rates, for example. It may also find ads that fit your audience as well as your keywords. Try both, give Adsense some time as it can be volatile.
8:10 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If people aren't coming to your site with a view to buying then they are unlikely to click on ads or affiliate links in any numbers. BUT if you have a regular and supportive readership then a useful minority can be persuaded to support a site that they like making their usual Amazon purchases through your links.

One mistake that I made when evaluating Adsense many years ago was to assume that subsequent earnings would be consistent with month 1. Regular visitors may notice and click on ads when they first appear but "ad blindness" will soon set in.
9:05 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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BUT if you have a regular and supportive readership then a useful minority can be persuaded to support a site that they like making their usual Amazon purchases through your links

I'm living proof of 16 years of experience of that comment.
11:21 am on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you don't do well with Adsense, you won't do well anywhere else. There's just no other better alternative to Adsense. UNFORTUNATELY.
3:30 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you don't do well with Adsense, you won't do well anywhere else.


I disagree with this statement. I have several pages where affiliate earnings are 10x what AdSense would pay. There are too many factors to just say nothing is better than AdSense. In some cases it take insight into your users and digging to find a way to monetize them.
6:07 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ piatkow

"BUT if you have a regular and supportive readership then a useful minority can be persuaded to support a site that they like making their usual Amazon purchases through your links."


I think I know what you are referring to. Maybe mentioning to your readers that by using your links to purchase, they help support your site.

Unfortunately for me, I tend to have new visitors, not repeat visitors. (It says that 87% of sessions are new). It is an evergreen topic and I don't create many new pages.

@ Chrispcritters


"There are too many factors to just say nothing is better than AdSense."


Can you possibly list some of the factors that would cause affiliates to outperform adsense?

"In some cases it take insight into your users and digging to find a way to monetize them."

Can you mention some shortcuts on HOW to analyze those factors?
6:25 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Can you possibly list some of the factors that would cause affiliates to outperform AdSense?

If someone on a page is in a buying cycle for a specific type of product an affiliate ad for that product (or a similar one) would likely perform well and pay better than a possibly less targeted AdSense ad. Some sites just don't monetize well with AdSense due to a lack of advertisers for that type of content. An ad network that focuses more on advertisers looking for branding may also perform better.

"In some cases it take insight into your users and digging to find a way to monetize them."
Can you mention some shortcuts on HOW to analyze those factors?

You can run surveys and ask people WHY they came to your site and WHAT they expected to get from it. Demographic information about your visitors may also provide some insight. Don't know if there is any shortcuts other than just trying other other networks, advertisers, affiliate programs and see how they perform.
7:15 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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factors that would cause affiliates to outperform adsense?


AdSense is like a middleman. Non-converting clicks are getting factored by the advertiser into the ROI formula for how much you're eventually paid. The advertiser could be a retailer, which could mean that their margins are lower than a manufacturer, resulting in an ROI calculation that drives the cost per click way down.

In an affiliate relationship the payments are more straightforward because you're paid per action. As an example, a program offering a 10% payout per sale will pay you ten bucks on a measly $100 sale. How often is AdSense paying ten bucks on a click? Not often.

The factor controlling how much you make is how focused the search query is to what is on the page and how that query relates to where the searcher is on a buy cycle (whether they know it or not). That's what is meant by a Money Keyword. Ranking number one for a money phrase, a phrase that converts, is like hitting a jackpot that keeps on giving day in and day out. I'm pretty sure that's going to pay way more than AdSense.

But it works the other way around, too. With AdSense you can focus on your content and user experience a little more instead of worrying about optimizing for CTR on affiliate links etc. With AdSense you're working less but also possibly earning less. But that's like anything else, right? You get what you put in.
10:00 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you both, Chrispcritters and martinibuster.
11:59 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Here's a real world example. I deal with a particular topic that can affect one's pet. For the most part, AdSense does pretty well on all pages on my sites, but if I wrote up a page about pets and this particular topic, then having affiliate links to some commercial products that would be spot on relevant to the topic and pets, that would actually make a lot more sense than just running AdSense on that page, and taking my chances on relevancy (and lower payout). Because I'm actually using the page to review and sell the product.

Bonus - I can also use the affiliate link in email marketing to my list. Can't do that with AdSense.
3:15 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank You, netmeg. That makes sense.
4:36 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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there is also more freedom in affiliate ad placement, the ability to highlight affiliate ads, and it's often ok to encourage viewers to use/click the affiliate links.
6:36 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Adsense can find and place ads that you would not expect. I do not want to go into detail as that may be a TOS violation, but I can see that Adsense ads in categories completely unrelated to the subject of my site can do very well.

There is even one subcategory that does fairly well tht should not be of any interest at all as it meets needs that are the opposite of what my site is about.
10:45 pm on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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As netmeg said:
AdSense does pretty well on all pages on my sites, but if I wrote up a page about pets and this particular topic, then having affiliate links to some commercial products that would be spot on relevant to the topic and pets

Now my 16 year old sites are tutorials on "Widgets".

On some pages, I don't run AdSense. Those pages are very specific - such as "How to paint Blue Widgets Green".

On those pages I have an affiliate link to Amazon, or a Commission Junction merchant where there is a very specific book or product relating to the page topic.

I think it was martinibuster who correctly said earlier in the thread [paraphrasing]:

"Would you prefer to earn a substantial affiliate commission, or a paltry click fee from AdSense by sending your visitor to someone else who will sell your visitor the product?".

Admittedly, probably most of my Affiliate sales come from regular visitors who know these commissions support my sites, so choose to buy through me. Something you can't actually track.

I have for years ran a "Widget Question and Answer" email forum. Every post contains a footer which essentially says:
Thinking of buying Widgets and supplies?
Consider going through my page first:
My-Site/Buy-Widgets.htm


NO - Never put a direct affiliate link to a product in an email or forum. Amazon, and probably many others will NOT give you credit. Amazon discount any link except those coming DIRECTLY from all your sites registered with them.
12:12 am on July 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the further explanations, creeking, graeme_p, and IanCP
5:54 pm on July 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Never put a direct affiliate link to a product in an email or forum. Amazon, and probably many others will NOT give you credit. Amazon discount any link except those coming DIRECTLY from all your sites registered with them.


Unless, of course, it's YOUR forum and the site is registered. For instance, a forum on bicycling might have a "how to" section that includes instructions on how to remove a crankshaft on a bike. This is easier with the correct special tool so you could put a link to that tool to Amazon or another affiliate.

Not sure how email would work even if you have an SMTP site registered. I see them (and get them) so there must be a way. For most of us with hosted sites, even though we have an email account the SMTP server is under their control not ours.

WDR
8:52 pm on July 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If the link comes directly from your site hosted forum, then yes.

If like mine, your forum is wholly email based, then no.