If you're using AdSense to monetize your blog, taking the time to optimize your site correctly can be one of the best investments you make.
In most cases, the results can be significant for relatively little work on your end. All it takes is some testing.
Over the years, I've tested just about every setting and combination possible and studied a lot of the biggest publishers in the world. Since Adsense is one of my primary sources of income, I've vigorously tested everything to make sure I'm getting the maximum revenue out of my ads.
While some things like ad layout and colors might vary for each website, there are things I've found to work best on all my sites. And in this article, I'm going to teach you all the different tips and tricks I've learned. Try them out for your sites, and see if you can see any improvements.
But first... Why is AdSense awesome?
When you read about monetization, you'll see there are so many different methods you can be using.
There's Amazon, affiliate marketing, product creation, CPA, collecting and selling leads, etc.
Each method has their pros and cons.
They all work. You can make a boatload of money from your niche sites with any of the monetization methods.
But for me, AdSense was always a personal favorite.
And here's why…
It’s an effortless way of making money online. You insert your ad codes onto your website, and you start making money.
You don't need to spend days, months, or even years building and refining your method of making money.
There's no method as passive as AdSense.
Income levels can get higher than real offline and online businesses such as services and SAAS products. However, the workload and the requirement for you to "show up"every day (like you would in an offline business) doesn't exist.
Of course, that doesn't mean you should build and forget. No matter how passive it is, you should always develop and grow. Grow the income because the more you grow, the easier it becomes to grow.
One of the things that I love about Adsense is that Google runs it. Apart from the cool feeling that your payment is from Google, there's also an added layer of security for you. It's not some small affiliate network or CPA program that could disappear with your $20,000 cheque.
There's no risk of it shutting down, and they're not going to cheat you out of your earned dollars.
This might seem like a small factor for you, but when your next payment is supposed to be over $10,000, it's good knowing that you'll be paid with no troubles (as long as you didn't cheat them yourself).
4. Separate entity from your site
Another factor that you might not have considered in the past is the difference in function between your Adsense and your website.
Sure, your website makes you money, but it's not reliant on AdSense. You can replace it with anything if you choose to do so.
This is different from something like an affiliate site where you can put a ton of work into promoting a particular product, only to see it disappear or get discontinued. That leaves your site almost worthless unless you can find an equal product to promote.
5. Valuable to buyers
For all the reasons above, people love buying AdSense sites. Because it's passive, investors are hungry to buy them and add them to their portfolio.
A site making $10,000/month can sell for $300,000 in a single payment. It commands a higher valuation and demand because there is less work to run the site.
That matters a lot.
Now that's out of the way let's learn about optimization.
The 3 most important metrics that matter with AdSense
Three metrics matter most with AdSense: CPC, CTR, and RPM.
CPC: Cost-per-click is the amount you earn each time a user clicks on your ad.
CTR: Click-through rate (CTR) is your conversion rate - the percentage of your visitors that are clicking an ad. It's the number of ad clicks divided by the number of page views.
RPM: Revenue per thousand impressions is how much you're making per 1000 pageviews. It's calculated by dividing your estimated earnings by the number of page views you received, then multiplying by 1000.
What can you optimize?
CPC is not something you have control over. It's mainly determined by your niche and the number of active AdWords advertisers bidding on your site at the time. There are also a lot of other small factors that could affect your CPC like how long the visitor stayed on the advertiser's site, your source of traffic, and location of your traffic. Here’s a helpful report from Google about the most profitable niches for their platform.
CTR, on the other hand, is something you can control and optimize. There are a lot of different things you test out: Different ad color schemes, sizes, and ad units; changing your website color scheme; changing font sizes on your site; improving your site layout; testing ad positions, etc.
Therefore, for AdSense optimization, and increasing your revenue (RPM), we're going to learn how to optimize for higher click-through rates.
Why AdSense optimization is so important
Before we begin, I want you to fully understand the impact doing this correctly could have on your business. Increasing your earnings is far easier (and faster) than increasing traffic.
Let me explain.
Let's say that you wanted to double your earnings on your blog.
You have two options. Double your traffic, or double your earnings. You either have to double the amount of traffic you're getting (RPM staying the same), or you have to double your RPM (traffic remaining the same).
Doubling your traffic is a ton of work, especially if you have an established blog with decent traffic figures already. For instance, imagine trying to double your traffic from 50,000 visitors to 100,000 visitors per month. Something like that can take months or even years.
However, increasing RPM, on the other hand, can be done virtually overnight. If you're earning $1000/month from a 2% CTR with your AdSense ads, you can double that to $2000/month (with the same amount of traffic) by increasing your CTR to 4%.
How To Increase Your CTR
1. Use image/text based ads
Some larger sites hate text ads and will leave everything as an image ad. To me, it doesn't matter as long as I'm getting a higher RPM.
Always use image/text-based ads for all of your websites. By using these settings, you open your ad slots to more advertisers and a more substantial inventory of ads.
As a result, you get a significant increase in CPC and CTR over time.
2. Use 3 ad blocks on all your pages
For the same reason as the last, always put 3 ad blocks on all your pages. This increases the number of available ad slots on your site, resulting in more advertisers bidding on locations on your site.
When putting 3 in the content area seems like too much, just put one into the sidebar. Over time, it increases your RPM significantly.
Also, as your site increases in traffic, you'll see that a small percentage of your Adsense revenue comes without clicks.
As you get more impressions with your ads, you'll start earning a few impressions as well, even if Adsense work through a CPC model.
It might seem small at first, but when your site is getting over a million hits per month, it can add up pretty nicely.
3. Try RED
My favorite color scheme for my sites is black text with red links.
I've tested this extensively, and red beats blue every time regarding higher CTR.
Here's an example ad from one of my sites:
And here are the color settings if you want to copy that exactly:
The #CC0000 is the shade of red that I like to use for my Adsense link titles. It's a bold and bright tone.
For my website links, I'll use a slightly less bold, dimmer shade of red: #87240F.
This allows the ad to pop out just ever so slightly rather than blend in thoroughly.
4. Don't block advertisers
If you've navigated the settings for your Adsense account, you'll have seen options where you can block specific advertisers, ad networks, and even categories of ads on your site.
DO NOT block advertisers or change your settings. It results in a lower overall RPM for your site.
Adsense is intelligent enough to know which ads your site's visitor will be most interested in.
Ads are different for everybody
A lot of people I've spoken with found ads irrelevant to their site and decided to play around with these settings.
Remember that ad serving is more personalized now than ever before. Just because you see a lot of ads for a particular site, it doesn't mean that everybody will. It mostly depends on the person's web history. If they visited a lot of pages about golf clubs, they're likely going to see some ads on golfing on your site too.
Don't be too concerned about which ads are showing on your site. Just trust Google to do its thing. Maximizing profitability from their ads is a bigger deal for them than it is for you.
5. Use big ad blocks
Bigger is better.
The only ad sizes I use are the:
- 336x280 large rectangle
- 300x250 rectangle
- 300x600 large skyscraper
After testing every size available across dozens of websites and millions of impressions, I've found these three sizes to perform the best.
My favorite is always to use the 336x280 large rectangle.
Note that a lot of people love leaderboard ads. From my testing, these ads underperform than the ones I listed above.
The square block sizes 336x280 and 300x250 also work nicely with mobile screens.
Ad layouts. They're the key to pulling the max revenue out of your Adsense sites. But I rarely see people who have optimized sites for Adsense.
With Adsense sites, you can go one of three ways:
I hate seeing sites like this. They still exist, and you've probably seen them before. The site is hideous. The text is nearly invisible, and it seems all you can see are ads. These sites are doing everything they can for a click.
Unfortunately, these sites rarely last long-term in the search engines, and they are flirting with violating AdSense Terms of Service. They have high bounce rates, and nobody sees their site as providing any value because they don't.
The lesson here is to NOT sacrifice user experience. You might experience a higher CTR temporarily, but your site metrics will suffer.
We'll learn below how to find the happy medium.
This is just as bad as over-optimization.
If your site is monetized is with cost per CLICK ads, then you need to lay out your ads so people can see them - within the content.
It seems as if these people forget that Adsense works through CPC, and instead they copy ad layouts of sites that get paid per impression.
There might be a leaderboard at the top and a few ads in the sidebar, and that's it. Sites like this rarely get over 0.5% with their CTR.
If you make money from clicks, you need to position your ads accordingly.
I like to go in between. While they're not heavily promoted on the site, they're placed within the content where people are reading.
The rest of the site isn't designed to make these ads stand out, so it doesn't look like an ugly spammy site.
Instead, ads are spread nicely within the area that people are reading.
Always be testing
Try unconventional layouts.
For instance, what if you had the 300x600 ad INSIDE the content area instead of the sidebar? You can float it to the right of the text, and it would be visible for 3-4 paragraphs down the page.
Or what if you can place two large rectangle ads side by side below the first paragraph rather than just one?
What happens when you make the content area double the width it is now? What happens when you narrow it down?
What if you change the font size on your site to be small or big?
What if you change your entire site's color scheme to be black?
What if you have the sidebar on the left rather than the right?
What if you remove any featured images at the top of your articles?
As you can see, there are so many different variables you can test.
The beauty of it all is that they aren't constant for every single site.
By continuing to test these other factors, you might see that your revenue jumps pretty
Always be testing … and good luck!