Improving Adsense click through rate was something I had always wanted to do, but mostly put it on my “do later” pile. I make most of my money through affiliate commissions or selling my own services. The pennies earned from Adsense were just afterthoughts.
Adsense can still pay you well though. I think it relies heavily upon traffic numbers, and the niche you're in. Of course with Google's “re-targeting” adverts now, where users see ads that interest them, rather than ads relevant to the site, you can in theory make money with any niche, as long as you have the traffic.
I've decided to try and publish a new experiment every Thursday, so this week we're focusing on improving Adsense clicks. Subscribe if you want to follow my other experiments.
Looking at Pat Flynn's latest numbers for his security guard training niche site, it's clear that Adsense still pays well to the right site. While most sites would be more profitable with a good product to promote, some sites have nothing appropriate!
I've been running experiments over the last 5-6 weeks with a couple of my niche sites.
The first is a site that isn't really monetized very well, despite having some good potential. I just haven't had the time to dedicate to promoting a good product, so I'm playing with Adsense.
The second is a site that is 100% on autopilot, and makes about $100-200 a month from Amazon and other affiliate commissions. I wanted to test a new Adsense orientated theme to see if I could increase Adsense clicks, while maintaining the same level of affiliate sales.
I was very much aware that having adverts on the page might take potential Amazon customers away, and earn me pennies instead of pounds.
A happy medium might be to block Adsense from the “money-pages” that have product promotions on them, and that's the next thing I'll test. So far though, the Ads don't appear to have affected sales.
Site 1 – Using A Plugin
For this site, I installed the Easy Adsense plugin. This sets up ads automatically for you in certain places on the site. From the settings page, you can place your ad code in the various areas, and the plugin will do the rest:
You don't want to fill in every section though, as Google only allows you to have 3 ads per page.
I chose Post Lead-In (ad at the top of the article, in the text), Post Lead-Out (at the end of the article) and a Sidebar Ad (Widget Text).
When you're creating your ad code in Adsense, make sure to create a custom channel for each individual ad. Call them something like “Sitename + Position” so that you can track them.
This will let you know which ads are generating the most clicks, and more importantly, which ones might want more improvement. If your right-aligned lead-in ad isn't working well, you could try switching it to left-aligned for example.
A note on the Sidebar
A lot of people these days have “Banner blindness” which means they don't notice things in the sidebar when reading an article. I had heard on the grapevine that the best place to put adsense these days was in the text, which is why 2 of my ads were in the article and only 1 in the sidebar.
I may well even try having all 3 in the text in future experiments.
Results After One Month
Here's a kind of “Before/After” screenshot of this particular site's Adsense.
Going from £4.50 in one month to £15.00 in one month is actually a huge increase. We're talking about over 200%
Now imagine if you had a site doing £100 a month from Adsense, and you increased it 200%…
It's nothing special to get excited about in terms of grand totals, but you can see a huge increase. With more traffic, or in a different niche, an increase of that magnitude could result in hundreds of dollars.
As months go by and I get more data, I will do more experiments as well.
One thing I want to test is making the ad at the bottom of the article “Text only”, as I think it will get a higher CTR, and have heard similar things from others.
Site #2 – Experimenting With A Theme
In the middle of September I was contacted by the guys from ThemeBounce to review one of their themes. They specialize in Adsense themes, and since I was in the middle of this experiment already, I thought “Why not?”
I didn't want to mess with the experiment on the first site, so I went over to my second site, the Kettlebell one, and switched the theme up there.
My main concerns, as I explained before, were that adding more Adsense to this site could mean a reduced income from affiliate commissions. So far, that's not been the case, I've still been getting commissions daily, and Adsense has improved too.
About The Theme
The theme I ended up choosing was called Unoblog, one of their more popular ones. I liked the clean designs, and figured it could work quite well with my Kettlebell site.
One feature I liked the most, was that they have ad blocks in among the blogroll on the homepage. See this screenshot below:
If I hadn't made a rush job of inserting images for my posts and had chosen images that are all the same size, it would have come out looking even better. As such, the ads on the homepage convert quite well. In fact I'll go fix that after this post goes live. Maybe.
For the rest of the theme, it works very similar to Easy Adsense. You choose where you want ads, insert your code, and wait for them to generate clicks.
The theme itself is pretty attractive and not all that difficult to use. There's always a bit of a learning curve with a new theme, but unlike some themes I've used (StudioPress), I figured Unoblog out quite quickly. Others might take lots of Googling or reading documentation, so I appreciated that I was up and running with Unoblog in about 30-60 minutes.
As it's only been about 9 days using this theme, I'll give you a quick rundown on how it's effected clicks so far.
Site earnings in September (Different theme): £3.94
Site earnings October 1st – 8th (Unoblog theme): £3.82
As you can see…8 days with Unoblog is basically the same as 30 days with my old theme. That's another big increase in conversions.
If Adsense is likely to be your main monetization strategy for your site, you definitely ought to look at Unoblog or any of the ThemeBounce themes. They're all built around Adsense.
Also, in terms of ROI, $30 for a theme that will increase my Adsense by about $20-30 per month is well worth it. Even more so for people who rely on Adsense more than I do.
For full disclosure, I WAS given this theme for free in exchange for reviewing it, but I see no reasons why anyone wouldn't want to buy it themselves.
Is Adsense Worth It?
In my case, it's not a large percentage of my income at all, although now I'm going to be getting $60+ a month from it instead of $20, I can at least receive a cheque every month!
It's always going to be better to have a product to promote for larger commissions, but in a lot of cases Adsense could prove more worthwhile. Pat Flynn's site makes over $2,000 a month from Adsense, so there is a lot of potential there.
You just need a lot of traffic, and some great content.
The advantages of Adsense are that you don't need any selling or promotions, so you can just focus on your content.
I'd be really interested to hear other people's experiences with Adsense, and if you have any click-rate gems of your own, do share!