Making Sense of AdSense

Currently, one of the most profitable online revenue tools for webmasters would be Google’s AdSense programme. Google has managed to combine semantic keyword rankings and on the fly advertisement generation into an amazing science in itself. Before you proceed reading this article, you might want to get a brief overview of Google’s acquisition of Applied Semantics as well as an overview of the AdSense programme itself. This is not compulsory, but it will definitely help you understand AdSense better, and thus use this knowledge to maximize your revenue.

Done your homework? Good! Now let’s get back to business. First of all, since you are reading this article, I’d assume that you:

  • Are interested in earning AdSense revenue on your own web site.
  • Want to know what’s all this buzz around AdSense.
  • Are already using AdSense on your web site, but want to find out ways of increasing revenue from it.

A Brief Introduction: The Target Audience

The good news is, unless you’re a veteran SEO expert, there’s probably a thing or two you can learn from this article and the links I’m going to provide. The not so good news is, I’m not really an SEO expert myself. So if you’re into the academics of SEO or AdSense, I’ll be the first to say, that this is not the purpose of this article. Everything I say here is purely based on my experience as an AdSense programme participant.

Some Known AdSense Issues

One of the most often reported problem about AdSense is that every once in a while, it will serve irrelevant ads. I will highlight two cases in which I’ve seen this happen:

  • Blog related ads on blog pages, even for posts which are on an altogether different topic.
  • Country specific ads, even for posts which only refers to the country once or twice.

In these cases, the ads served by the AdSense code are overwhelmingly irrelevant. I’m sure you’ve seen such ads before. However, you shouldn’t be resigned to the fate of serving these ads anyway. Under your Ad Settings area in AdSense, you should see a Competitive Ad Filter section. Don’t let the name of this area fool you. It shouldn’t merely be used just to filter out competitive web sites. If you think of it really hard, when you’re running AdSense on a blog like I do, we don’t really have competitors now, do we? So let’s put this Competitive Ad Filter into better use, such as filtering unrelated ads!

Filtering As A Targeting Weapon

When I first started using AdSense, I was quite unpleased with the many Malaysian Hotels ads that appear on HTNet. So what I did is figure out the destination URL of the ads, and add them to my Competitive Ad Filter. Warning: You must be very, very careful as to not clicking the ads, and thus artificially inflate your AdSense clickthrough ratio! Clicking your own ads are against the AdSense Terms and Conditions.

You are limited to block a maximum of only 200 URLs. Although the number might seem high, it’s really easy to reach this limit. To save some slots for other ads you might want to filter in the future, you might want to block all ads across subdomains and avoid keying in specific URLs. From my experience, the content across subdomains tend to be similar anyway.

You will also see the following notice (or disclaimer, if you can call it that) on the Completitive Ad Filter page:

Please note that filtering sites may decrease your potential earnings and/or the number of ads that can appear on your web pages.

Moderation Is The Key

What you need to remember is not to be overzealous in your filtering. The fact is that filtering irrelevant ads is much better than displaying them in the first place. Furthermore, the earnings per click on blog related ads are not really high anyway (from my experience at least), so you’re actually doing yourself a favour by filtering them out in the first place.

As for the country-specific ads that you might see every now and then, you need to consider a few things before making decisions on whether or not to filter them out. First and foremost, you should understand that Google uses a technology called Geotargeting to help targetted AdSense content to be delivered to your visitors. So what you see may not be what’s served to your visitors from other countries. However, you might want to consider filtering out any tourism related ads, especially if it is not the main focus of your web site.

On To The More Visible Aspects

Now that we’ve gotten through customising the content part of your AdSense ads, let’s proceed to something more visual, which is the presentation of the ads itself. With AdSense, you are given virtually total freedom on how you want your ads to be displayed. However, as the old saying goes, with great powers come great responsibilities.

Google has examples of ads that blend in and those that stands out. Bear in mind that these are just guidelines. In the end, you should experiment with different colour schemes and settle with those that give the most returns. My advice would be to start with ads that blend in. Personally, for HTNet, I found that ads that blend in and with no visible borders gave me better CTRs… however YMMV.

Moving Beyond Colours

Google provides a variety of ad layout formats for webmasters to choose from. There are also sample placement suggestions that you could use in making your AdSense code placement decisions.

Again, there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to deciding on which layout to use for your site. It is really up to you as the webmaster to try it for yourself. It has a lot to do with how your web site flows. You should place your ads on where they can get maximum exposure. This is what advertisers call “fighting for eyeballs”. Again, on the other hand, you should take measures not to drown your audience in ads. Sure, everyone wants to gain maximum revenue from your adspace, but making your visitors feel that they are visiting an online billboard instead of a proper web site will only have an adverse effect on your site traffic, and thus, your pocket.

To Be Continued

I actually have more information as well as useful AdSense related links to share with you. However, after previewing this post, I’m afraid that I might drown you in too much information in one article. Nevertheless, I promise that I will share some tools that will help you maximise the potential of your AdSense placements.

2 responses to “Making Sense of AdSense”.

  1. matakecil Says:

    very informative post on adsense indeed. thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Site Admin Azmeen Says:

    Thanks for commenting.

    Every once in a while when I get comments such as yours, it really makes me feel that the effort I put in to compile my posts are really worth it.

    You’ve just made my day. My sincerest thanks go out to you 🙂