This post will describe ways to improve Google Adsense revenue from your existing websites or blogs.
In the last year, over half of the Adsense income I have received has not come from new ads or new traffic, it has been from tweaking my current ad placements.
This post is for those who already are using Adsense or are at least familiar with how to use it.
This is a long post. You will likely make more money off your stuff if you read it and try the things I mention. If you have old websites that you haven’t updated lately or are trying make more money off of, this post is for you.
Over the last year I have tried many things with my older sites using Adsense, some were simple and obvious, some went counter to what you might think would work. I just tried things to see if they would pan out or not.
There is no Adsense Fairy
Some of what I will say is common knowledge but before rolling your eyes ask yourself if you are actually doing these things. Everyone knows that exercise is good for them, but it doesn’t mean they are actually doing it.
The difference between making more money and not making more money is actually doing things.
How to make more money from Adsense without screwing anything up
There are several methods of changing up your Adsense, but they fall into just a few categories…
- Changing ad type
- Changing ad size
- Changing ad placement
- Changing ad colors
- Using custom Adsense search
For each of these subjects, we will look at the common best practices, ways to implement those practices, ideas that I have found useful, and how to test them.
Changing Ad Type – Image vs Text ads
The simplest, easiest change you can make to your ads is changing the ad type. This simple step can really make a big difference in ad income. I am writing it first because I think it is the first thing someone should do when trying to improve their income.
You can change your ad type without changing the size of your ads or the layout of your pages.
It is the least intrusive of all the methods I will describe, so it is a good place to start.
What do I mean change ad type?
This may sound simple, but I have had this small step double my Adsense income on some pages. It is really a great first step into tweaking your ads. You may hear many differing opinions about which type is better, but the bottom line is this.
Until you try both, you do not know what works best for your particular webpage.
The goal here is to determine if you can make more money off of one ad type over the other. To do this you must…
1. Change ad type
2. Wait a few days
3. See if you are making more or less.
Changing your ad type takes only a few moments, imagine if you are like me and you did this small change and received 2 or 3 times the amount of income. It would be a few moments well worth taking. On some pages this worked incredibly for me, on some it made no difference whatsoever. You may not see a change or you may already be using the best type, but this is good information to have either way.
How to change your Google Adsense type between text and image ads
1. Go to your Adsense account
2. Choose Adsense setup
3. Choose Manage ads
4. Find ad you want to change and then choose edit ad
5. Choose ad format
By choosing “image ads only” or “text ads only” you will change the ad type being shown on your page. If you do not see these options, then your Adsense code is old, and you will just have to make a new one and choose the “image only” or “text only” option as you do.
Each webpage is different, some will do well with image ads, some will do well with text ads, some will do about the same.
My advice is to take one or two webpages (not an entire site) and just change the ads on those one or two pages. Make sure the pages have enough traffic so you can have a meaningful before/after comparison. If you see a higher click through rate with one type, then use that type throughout your site more.
Adsense Ad Size – What Size is Best?
As you probably know, Google has stated that the best converting ad sizes are…
- 336×280 Large Rectangle
- 300×250 Medium Rectangle
- 160×600 Wide Skyscraper
In the Google Adsense help page on this subject, it also states…
As a rule of thumb, wider ad formats tend to outperform their taller counterparts, due to their reader-friendly format. Readers absorb information in thought units (that is, several words at a time). The wider format lets them comfortably read more text at a glance without having to skip a line and return to the left margin every few words as they would be forced to do with a narrower ad. The wider ad format also lessens the likelihood of readers leaving the ad unit altogether.
This advice, in my experience, has been generally sound. But it brings up a very important thing for blog authors. Blog tend to be skinny. Many blogs have skinny content areas where a 336 pixel would be really overwhelming. Blogs also have one or two sidebars which are also skinny. Having blogged on several subjects, I have found that wider content areas are very wise for a few different reasons. But let’s look at what I am talking about and break this down to be more clear. Your blog theme really defines what types of ads you can have on it.
Common Blog Formats pros and cons
This is a very common layout of a blog theme. This layout allows more room for the content and depending on the width of your content area, you can use most of the Adsense sizes on it.
What to watch out for. If your blog content area is 400 or less pixels, you are missing out. To give an example, my blog, the one you are reading has a content area of 500 pixels.
We will cover placement of ads in the next section, but as ar as sizes go, you need to know if you want sidebar ads or content ads.
I prefer ads in the content area. Depending on the subject of your blog you may find sidebar ads work better than content area ads, but in general I would say that ads within the content do better than ads in a sidebar. Therefore you want to have a content area that is wide enough to show the Google recommended ad sizes. My general recommendation is to have a content area of 500 pixels or more if you are going to be showing ads within your content. This will give you enough room to have your blog look pleasant even when using the 336×280 large ad size.
When you are placing ads in the content, make sure to format them to be to the left or right, I explain how to float Adsense ads left or right here.
The two side bar type blogs are often used where people are selling ads like the common 125×125 ads. This can be a good thing if you are making money from it, but I have not seen alot of two sidebar blogs that are good for Adsense. By having two sidebars, you are making your sidebars and your content area too skinny to have the recommended Adsense ad sizes. It is worth experimenting if this is right for you or not.
To test this out is rather simple luckily for blog authors. I recommend you look for a theme that is unlike your own. Find a theme or two that will allow you to try seperately both sidebar and content type ads. You will usually need a sidebar at least 300 pixels wide to try out Adsense in the sidebar (so you can use the 300×250 medium rectangle). For content, try for 500 pixels (so you can use the 336×280 large rectangle).
As a general rule, I have found bigger ads provide bigger results, but I have also found that sticking a big ad in a small place where it looks weird does not do well.
One of the great things about Adsense is you can change around where the ads are and it won’t mess up things like your ranking or SEO. The biggest change you can make is the position and placement of your ads.
Let’s look at the best practices about ad placement that come from the Google Adsense help pages and other places on the web…
The Google help page I linked to above is where the well known “heat map” is. This is what Google provides as a reference for where to place ads. That page states…
Certain locations tend to be more successful than others. This “heat map” illustrates the ideal placing on a sample page layout. The colors fade from dark orange (strongest performance) to light yellow (weakest performance). All other things being equal, ads located above the fold tend to perform better than those below the fold. Ads placed near rich content and navigational aids usually do well because users are focused on those areas of a page.
To summarize what this is telling us…
1. Ads above the fold tend to work well
2. Ads to the left tend to work well when near the top
3. Ads within the content tend to work well.
You may or may not already know these things, but the main thing to remember here is that these recommendations are often correct. Not always, but most of the time they are true.
I did some specific testing using the heat map as a guide, let’s look at a couple of things I did and what happened…
1. Changing the sidebar from right to left
I have many sites where the sidebar is on the right. I have always preferred right hand sidebars but would changing it from the right to the left really make a difference in Adsense revenue? In this experiment the answer was yes. The click through ratio of ads on the left of this page went up dramatically, and I received more than twice the amount of income per month than I used to from the same page, with the same traffic.
The page was my virtual pets page on Gadzi.com.
This particular page made me around 100/150 dollars a month. Since making the change it is making me around 250/350 a dollars a month.
The time I spent on it was about 5 minutes, and it pretty much doubled my income. I simply put the sidebar to the left and kept everything the same about the page.
Upon testing this out, I realized that there were several places where I could make similar experiments.
2. Above the fold
The recommendation to have ads above the fold is one that makes sense, but I have seen so many people make their blogs/websites look like crap to try to do it, that I really wanted to figure out a way to make an ad prominent and above the fold but not completely ugly or intrusive. I decided to use SEOish (this blog) as a testing grounds and I used some of my articles which get constant traffic.
Many of my tutorials and posts get thousands of visitors a month even three years after I wrote them. I decided to use some of these pages. I put ads up on three different posts and I had one with an above the fold ad and one without, and the other I concentrated the ads towards the bottom of the post. Each of these ads were in the content area of the blog and were floated to the left or right.
Again the recommended Google Adsense placements panned out best…
- Above the fold did best as did ads within the content.
Now you may be wondering why I would be testing out the obvious. Here are my reasons…
- I have never assumed the obvious path is the best path to take.
- I like to test things
- I found out that I had left alot of things undone, and I wanted to get all of my Adsense in order by naming my ads, having a list of them (and where they resided).
- I have experienced results where the recommended placement did not do the best.
Are your ads doing as well as they could?
As I went back through my Adsense, I realized that I did not really know where my ads were. I have done so many things, and I hadn’t kept track very well. So I made a list of questions that would help me. Some of these are painfully obvious, but it is what I did. Here is the checklist…
1. Can you list all the websites you have Adsense on?
If yes continue.
If no make the list. Make it on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, but have a list.
2. Do your ads have names?
If yes continue.
If no, name each of your ads. Name them like: “gadzi-300-sidebar” or: “seoish-abovefold-content-postname”
3. Have you read the Google help pages on Adsense optimization?
If yes continue.
4. Are you spending time everyday optimizing your Adsense?
If yes continue.
If no, you may want to start. Just a few minutes a day can do wonders. As I said before there is no Adsense fairy, how well you will do using Adsense is entirely up to you. I think most people can probably increase their income significantly by just optimizing, even if they are having the same traffic levels.
If you can answer the above four questions with a “yes” then you will have a great deal of information when you log into your Adsense account. You will have trends, figures, and information that will help you optimize your ad income to the fullest. You can sort your ads by click through ratio, for example and see which ads are doing the best and start to understand why they are doing the best. The largest single step that has improved my income really is the naming of my ads. everything else fell into place after that for me because of the reports available in the Adsense interface.
Adsense for Search
The last thing I want to talk about is Adsense for search, also known as Google custom search. It is the Adsense product that has made me the most money. It is not well understood and not widely used. When it is used, it is not used well. I have used it for three or more years now and the oldest such use is one that I will highlight to help show you the potential of this product.
What is Adsense for search?
Google describes it as…
Allow your users to search your site or the web, and earn from ads on the search results pages. Creating a custom search engine is simple, and you can tune results and ads to your site’s content and audience.
It is most often used as a site search. People use it to provide their users with a way to search their own site.
The way money is made is by showing ads in the search results which you then get paid for.
Now I have used this product for years, and I do not use it much as a site search, but I do use it in other ways and I have made tens of thousands of dollars doing so.
A great example of this is my “Ask Google” tool on feedthebot.com which I created as a way for me and other bloggers to search official Google resources. With Google custom search, you can define what sites the search engine you create searches. It could just search your own site, or it can search other sites as well.
In my case I got a list of official Google sources and had my search engine search all those sites. This was useful to me because sometimes it was hard to know what Google had actually said about a subject. For example let’s use “nofollow”, nofollow has been written about a million times, but what has Google actually aid about it? It was hard to determine but here are the results of a search for “nofollow” on my ask google tool. As that page shows there are many things Google has said about it and I often use that tool to learn things about Google when I need something from the horse’s mouth.
What is likely more interesting to you the reader though, is that I have been making over a thousand dollars a month from that page for years.
Yes, 25 percent.
One in four or so of people using it tend to click an ad.
While no click through ratio is ever guaranteed, you will find the Adsense for search CTR to be much much higher than any other product.
This means that if you come up with a way to get people to search for something through your engine, you can make good money.
If there is one Adsense tool I recommend over all others, it is Adsense for search.
To do so you would create a custom search engine that searched all the great resources you know of, and not include all the crappy ones.
How you promote it is up to you, I will likely write more about it and provide a tutorial soon on the subject.
Until then, good luck and let me know of any tips you recommend.