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My Top 5 Tips For Increasing Adsense Earnings (Without Increasing Traffic)

Piggy BankI have spent a long time trying to improve the advertising earnings on my websites and I have managed to go from a couple of dollars a month to 3 figures in a relatively short time, without increasing the amount of visitors to my site.

The tips I am about to tell you are what worked for me, but I encourage you to try different things as each site is unique.

1. Colour and Position

This is probably the optimization which is mentioned most regularly, but it’s for good reason. You really should experiment with different ad positions and different colour combinations. Each time you make a change leave the ads for a week and see how your earnings alter. Make a note of what works and then try something new. I was always sceptical when I read these comments before but since I have started playing with positioning my adsense revenue has multiplied by 4 times (crazy but true). Personally I’ve found that blending ads into the site works very well but it’s not the only way and you should try all the combinations you can think of.

2. Different date, different adverts

This is one of my favourites and I intend to write a post on how to do this next week, for now I will stick to the what and why.

In simple terms, the older the page the more ads you show.

Despite the fact that I have advertising, I don’t actually like it. I have 0 to very few adverts on new posts, and increase the ads on older ones. This isn’t so obvious here on Binary Moon, but on Binary Joy I have gone a little crazy – but there is a method to my madness. The theory is that older posts will be more appealing to search engines, and visitors who come from search engines are more likely to click on ads. Another side effect is that I “reward” regular visitors by not annoying them with adverts, so I feel this is a good compromise. As I said above I’ll go into this one in more detail next week (with code).

3. Content Targeting

This one is a very simple change and is ridiculously straight forward to implement. Google have a simple comment tag that you can place around your primary content, and this is what your ads will be targeted to.

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->
Key page content here
<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

The idea is that you place these comments around your core page content. That is, the content which is mostly text, and which best reflects the content of your site. On a blog this will generally be the main post content. The reason you do this is so that the adverts don’t target irrelevant content such as the links in your sidebar.

You can also add regions you want Google to ignore. I haven’t used these myself but they are something I intend to try in the not too distant future. You can read more on the section targeting page of the Google Adsense help.

4. Referrals

Google Referrals don’t make me a huge amount of money, but I like to include them on all my sites. Currently I only use one referral package and it only displays in Internet Explorer on the PC. It’s for the Firefox browser, and earns me roughly a dollar for every new install I generate. Some sneaky css removes the ad for Firefox users so that they don’t get pestered with unnecessary adverts.

To do the show/ hide css on your refferal code all I do is have a div with my referral button in it, which I hide. I then use conditional css comments to load some css to display the advert in IE.

I’ve put together a simple example of what I mean below. Just copy and paste the code below into a new htm document and then view it in IE and Firefox. In IE you will see the ad block at the top of the page, in Firefox is “magically” disappears.

<html>
<head>
	<title>Ad Show Hide demo</title>
	<style>
	#adDiv {
		display:none;
	}	
	</style>
	
	<!--[if IE]>
	<style>
	#adDiv {
		display:block;
		
		/* some extra styles to make the ad stand out */
		border:1px solid #eee;
		padding:10px;
	}
	</style>
	<![endif]-->

</head>
<body>
	<div id="adDiv">Stick your advert in here</div>
	<h2>Ad test</h2>
	<p>Some page content</p>
</body>
</html>

5. SEO and Content

I get about 75% of my traffic from search engines and, in my opinion, search engine visitors are the ones most likely to click on adverts, far more so than the regular visitors (which ties into the date based adverts above). Search engine visitors are on a journey to find some information, if they can’t find what they want on my site then they might as well find it on one of my advertisers sites, and that’s the good thing about contextual advertising – the ads are relevant to my readers.

+1 for free – Experiment, Experiment, then experiment some more

I know I’ve said this already but I can’t emphasize it enough experiment constantly. Things are changing all the time so it’s always worth trying different advertising layouts and schemes.

Your turn

Do you run ads on your site, and do you have any hints and tips you want to share? I’m sure everyone would be interested in reading you tips in the comments below.

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88 Comments »

  1. I really like point #2. I’m looking forward to the code for this. It really makes sense… those old posts tend to pick up all sorts of visitors from search engines.

    I’m really not that experienced with Adsense… although I do enjoy text-link-ads. I’m making quite a bit of money off them right now. Affiliates through them are running strong as well. Generally… they just run in my sidebar.

  2. for an IE only ad you can actually just stick the ad itself inside the IE conditional comment and save the extra bit of CSS.

  3. Update your website in the mornings, the CPM is usually higher. I read this at Problogger a while ago, and after trying it out for a week or two, I noticed a pretty significant increase in CPM

  4. Lara – It was actually because someone asked about point number 2 that I thought of writing this :)

    Kabari – That’s something I hadn’t considered. May be worth trying – I like to minimise code when I can.

    Ash – The issue with that is what “morning” you mean, I’m from England so my morning is different to yours :)

  5. Yes #2 is a great one, it’s always important to reward loyal readers in this way.

    Another tip is to create Channels for each one of your Adsense Blocks. For Instance:

    BMHeader
    BMSidebar
    BMFooter

    This way you can track which ads are getting what percentage of click throughs. Then when experimenting with positioning & colors, instead of going “with my site set-up this way it’s getting 8%” you instead know, “My header Ad blended at 468×60 is getting %15″ and “My Sidebar at 120×40 is getting 6%”

    You can then work out if the screen real estate is really worth having the Ad there, and what colors are working.

    Another tip is Underlined Blue text people naturally associate as a clickable hyperlink and tends to be clicked more then other colors. So if blue works with your design, using for your Ad titles is a good idea.

    One more, you can replace the default WordPress Search with a custom Google search box for your site only, with your Adsense in the code. This can bring in extra revenue. It can actually generate up to 30% extra revenue. You build your custom Search Engine with http://www.google.com/coop/ which is linked to your Adsense account.

    Ok, one more. Make use of the “Competative Ad Filer” to block poor paying sites and beat smart pricing. This can have a big positive effect on your earnings. I won’t paste a list here as it will give them all links.

    Hope these helped.

    Carly,

  6. I found your post very educational! I’ll begin implementing some of your tips on my AdSense ads.

    You have a really interesting blog, which is why I just subscribed using Bloglines.

    Please keep on blogging!

    Have an excellent day!

  7. Wow interesting !
    What more important is – test what works better for you!
    Ben one question – Which plugin do you use to insert code in post content?
    I tried lot many but are not working or rather too heavy on my site.
    Thanks

  8. Having several sites I can say it makes a huge difference the topic you blog about. Choose something related to finance and you can get a very high pay per click. But, whatever you choose you need traffic

  9. Thanks for all the comments everybody.

    Carly – you have some good points there. Maybe I should make a second post :)

    Vijay – I don’t use any plugins for ads in post content. Everything is coded by myself.

    Liberty – I haven’t compared the two no – that could be an interesting thing to try though. Thanks for the suggestion

    Paula – I don’t talk numbers, no, but I have gone from double to triple digits in the space of a few months using the techniques I mentioned above.

    Also – where are my ads? Check out the older posts in the archives (tip number 2 :) ) Also Binary Joy has a lot more ads than this site.

  10. Hi, I’ve just started running ads on indietravelpodcast.com with limited but growing success. You’re post has finally motivated me to experiment and track a little more – so monthly changes are on the way.

    I also recently saw a wordpress plugin (here) that I think may help with #2.

  11. Leon – neither have I… they pay direct into my bank account :)

    Craig – I’ve seen that plugin too. It looks good, but is overkill for me. The code I use is only 6 or 7 lines long, I don’t need a big plugin. Of course it could be good for less technically inclined people.

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  13. Thanks Ben

    Sorry if my post was a bit rushed and gramatically poor, i was cooking dinner and though i had a bit longer before things started burning :)

    Liberty, i’ve found text always performs better then image.

    I’ve put up a list for you to paste in to the Competative Ad Filter now i’ve got more time. These advertiser are either very poor paying, or junky sites that people will hit the back button on which kicks in Smart Pricing from Google as Google thinks your sending poor traffic when in fact it’s the advertisers bad sites.
    tareeinternet.com/filter.txt

    So trial that and you should see your average click value go up.

    Another one i didn’t mention, is it can be a good idea to randomly alternate your Ad colors. Users can become “Ad Blind” so by setting up 4 color schemes that change on each page load can make a big difference on some sites.

    You can do this in your Adsense account. https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=9981&topic=156

    Something people also don’t realise is having “more” Adsense blocks isn’t always better, actually most of the time you are worse off. By having just the one Adsense block Google will pick the top 4 (or however many your ad type has) publishers to display. If you shoq 3 Adsense blocks, Google has to dip in and grap 12 publishers so you get lower paying advertisers pulled in to your site.

    So by dropping your worst paying Adsense block (identified by setting each in a seperate channel) you can actually increase revenue. May sound backwards at first but it’s true.

    Then this location you can sell 3 or 4 text links to webmasters, use less space and generate alot more revenue.. Plus help someone out at the same time ;)

    Ben if you want to include any of this in a part 2 post, be my guest. If it helps people out i’m happy. :-D

    Carly,

  14. Good post and I especially liked #2 like others here as well. Interesting tip from Carly (SEO) also regarding the use of a custom Google Search Engine to generate extra revenue. I’m pretty new to Adsense so this information is extremely helpful :-)

  15. I’ve actually been looking into adsense a lot lately and once I get my site redesign going I’ll have to try these out. Thanks.

  16. fantastic post man! I am just about to install the “Who Sees Ads” plugin and hope it work well :-D

  17. Great tips. Some that I haven’t seen any more. I’m reading more about experimenting with ads, whereas I used to just slap some on and leave them up.

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  19. Great tips, Ben. I think the code showing others how to show Firefox referrals for IE users is particularly good, it’s nice to see someone doing that with just a bit of CSS. Your readers may also be interested in my tips on getting relevant ads in particular and my AdSense tips in general. If anyone reading this has any burning questions about AdSense, I’d be happy to answer them….

  20. Hey Ben, I came across someone using your Regulus theme once. I thought it was awesome so when I went to check who made it, I was like, “Hey! This guy’s in 9rules!”. Keep up the good work, man!

  21. I am still experimenting with getting the right ads on my site. I agree about Referrals, they did nothing for me. Amazon and auctionads also didn’t produce. For now I’m keeping Google and adding Text Link, but for my niche I think private sponsorship after the site has matured is the way for me to go.

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  23. Thanks for the tips!
    I’d like to add a few words about Adsense link units. I know they don’t seem very appealing to most publishers because they need two clicks and thats something hard found, but they have always worked very good for me. I think everyone should give them a try (and now we can place up to 3 link units on one page).
    And yes, you should definitely keep on experimenting (via channels) with new ad colors and different placements because you can always do better.
    Plus, learning some basic SEO tips will boost your traffic and that means more clicks.

  24. This is really very interesting … I think the most relevant point you made, for me, is the one about regular visitors not clicking on ads. You are so right- my stable of regular people- don’t give me a dime, just traffic.

    That actually confirms the theory of advertising arbitrage- where you buy adwords to your site and hope that those people will click on the adverts in your site to make up what you’ve spent. They are indeed more likely, to click.

    Very interesting indeed

  25. Thank you, I found it very interesting; especially when there is not many such information on the net

  26. Sorry for dredging up an old topic, but I was wondering about the and how it appears in Opera and Safari.

    If I use a Google + Toolbar referral button it’ll show in IE, be hidden in FF, and look like an ordinary Google ad in Opera and Safari.

    How do I hide that in those?

  27. Wow, some great tips, I have never seen anywhere else.

    Here’s my tip you might like to try it too. I also experiment a little with ads and last week I’ve found that the 250×300 pixel ad size performs bests. Since I change the 250×250 wraped ad that displayed just below the post title to a 250×300 size ad my CTR has increased from around 4-5 to about 8-10%. Don’t know whether this is temporary, but there is definitely an increase

  28. I’m afraid I am not the sort of blogger that shares his earnings but I’ll tell you that it was over 4 figures which considering the size of my website is pretty good I think.

  29. why would you hide the adverts in firefox? wow, you are a good soul lol! i guess. I don’t think people mind adverts. we all know what they look like by now. if we don’t want to click them we won’t. in any case you need to monetize to pay for your hosting, your time, etc.

  30. Did you read it? The only ad I hide from firefox is the one that advertises firefox. If existing firefox users download it you don’t get credit so there is no point giving it to them.

  31. OK, you make money on referrals. Unfortunately big G. banned all regions except Americas and Japan ( I’m not sure about Japan though). Living in Europe I have no chance to get more traffic from American vistors so no referall $$$ for me :/

  32. Dieta – I thought the referrals thing was only for referring new customers and had nothing to do with the product referrals?

  33. I think it’s for products and customers. I can’t find the blog I read about that. I looked for that at adsense pages and couldn’t find this either :(

  34. Ah ok – I’d be interested to know if you find out. I don’t think it’s worth promoting something if I don’t make any money… although I do think Firefox is worth advertising :)

  35. The strategy of placing less Adverts on new posts is quite interesting. I agree with the point that new site visitors should not be overwhelmed with Ads. A great tip which I will surely use on my blog.

  36. I 100% agree that search engine traffic clicks on ads. Regulars rarely do.

    A good tip I recently learned is to leave them wanting more. Your job is to provide them enough info so that they are still thirsting for more. Then they click the ads to get the rest of the story.

  37. good post, but Adsense is stopping refferal program for my country:( (ID), so my only hope are from Adsense for content and Adsense for search….
    But thanks for the post

  38. I love the target content code. Adsense on my site has been in the triple digits for a long time and I feel bored with it not moving. I mean we all want and need more money right? The tips here are great. It doesn’t matter to me if some have already been said because they are worth repeating for a very good reason.. these adsense tips and tools have been tried and tested. Thank you for the post.

  39. I found that making the ads the same color as all the links on your site work the best on my sites.

  40. pls how do i improve my adsense earnings on my blog. I dont have a website now but a blog. Now I have only generated $6 since january 2008. Pls send me the details

  41. Making the ads as part of your site works best, but the link colour can also follow ur text colour so it looks like ur content, this is not a guarantee while it may attract ur visitor to view ur ads.

  42. Hi,
    Very interesting and useful tips. You make it straight forward so that people can easily understand.. Thanks for the sharing..

  43. I quite like the idea of #2 as well. I’d like to see a future post on this.

    I kind of let my adsense drop off for a while so i’m keen to see if I can get it back up again. Some nice tips in this post!

  44. Great blog! Thx
    Question- How do I keep my adsense ads at the top? Every time I add a post they keep dropping down.

    And how do I place them on the side? I only know how to add them like I add a post?

    Thanks again

    Austin

  45. These are some good tips, especially the “show more ads on older posts” one — this is exactly what I have been doing. For the first two weeks or so, I don’t put any AdSense on the page or any other obvious ads. After about 15 days when the older posts drop off of my home page, I wll put in AdSense units if the page is getting any kind of significant traffic. Usually it takes a week or two for the pages to get ranked well in the search engines anyway, so this works out pretty well. Most regular visitors to the home page don’t even know that I’m using AdSense on the site, but I can still collect earnings from the older pages that are getting almost all of the traffic.

  46. Good list, there is a couple of things which you didn’t mention such as top ads having a very high ctr compared to ads lower on the page.

    Cool Post though, Thanks.

  47. thanks your blogs is very helpful. and honestly i like the the template you are using right now…the adsense add on the right side bar doesn’t move at all. Can you share with us about where to get this template?thak you before

  48. I think that giving users a “similar posts” list at the bottom of the post can also be used to link the users to older posts, This would also increase earnings.

    I like the post no 2 very much, I’ll also implement it.

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  50. i want to try that content targeting trick to optimize my adsense earnings
    but i’m afraid i make a mistake . so i quit.. :p
    maybe i need a little more deeper tutorial..
    thx 4 your info

  51. Thanks a lot for that really articulate adsense information. I just wanted to know if there is a reason for adsense to stop tracking clicks on ads once I changed my theme. I used to get $.50 atleast on a bad day and upto $3 sometimes on a good day. The moment i changed the theme, the impressions are the same, but the clicks and the eCPMs have stopped. any clues what has gone wrong?

    • I would assume the problem is the location of the ads. The new theme placed the ads in places that people don’t click so you stopped getting the clicks.

    • Without visitors you won’t earn anything. I would recommend working on getting more traffic to your website. Try to form partnerships with similar sites and get them to link to you or talk about your recipes. Once you have more people visiting your website you will be able to track the amount of money you make through advertising and then test different combinations to optimize further.

  52. Google earnings are mostly triggered through traffic. I have tried for adsense optimisation but it didn’t helped much.

    Rather thanks for sharing…….

    • That’s not entirely true. Without visitors you won’t earn anything (which is definitely true) but you can optimise the positions and click rates on the ads with some careful testing. You do need the traffic first though!