November 5, 2012, 5:00 am

A Date With The Enemy

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online
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A few weeks ago, I was invited on a date by email.

 

Nope, this is not what you think; I’m not registered on some dating site while I have a wife and kids at home (lol!). It was an email from my arch enemy: The Google Adsense Team! Right… they are not my enemies… Google Search Engine Optmization is… not the Adsense team. The meeting was part of their Adsense in Your City Tour. Believe it or not, Montreal is big enough to draw Google’s attention!

 

Since it was only a hour away from home, I decided to give it a shot and go on a date with the enemy…

 

WHAT I ALREADY KNEW

 

I’ll tell you upfront, if you have been an active Adsense earner, you may not learn much from Adsense in Your City. Basically, the first hour of the presentation was about what I’ve outlined in my Adsense Optimization article for PF bloggers:

 

–          The 336×280, 728×90, 300×250 and 160×600 blocks are the most lucrative

–          Color blending is super important

–          Put as many ad units as you can (max 3 ad units + 3 text link ads)

–          Text & Image ad units work better than text only (I’ll get back to this in a second)

 

In other words, if you have already done some basic research on Adsense optimization, you won’t be impressed by the coffee they served nor the content they give. Having said that, there are a few things I’ve learned from my encounter with the Google Adsense team.

 

CONSIDER COMPETITION FACTOR

 

An interesting thing they said was to consider the competition factor when choosing your ad units. For example, we, bloggers, all like the 468×60 ad unit because we can plug it pretty much everywhere. BUT there is not much competition for this type of units among advertisers. Therefore, you have fewer choices of ads to show your readers and the accuracy may not be at its highest. The worst part is that the cost per click (CPC) will also be lower since there is no competition for this ad unit. On the other hand, many advertisers like leather boards (728×90), sky scrapers (160×600) and big blocks (336×280). Adding text & images brings more competition to get shown on your site too. Therefore, your CPC should be boosted with this method. I’ve experienced a higher CTR (click through rate) with text only units but I will run more tests to see if a text & image with a lower CTR could compensate in earnings with a higher CPC.

 

FILTER WITH CAUTION

 

Based on the competition factor, you should not use the filters to remove advertisers. An interesting part that I didn’t know is that Google is not only using your site content to select the right ads, it’s also using the reader’s browser history. Therefore, a reader could see a vacation ad on a financial blogs because he has been searching for plane tickets recently with the same computer. So removing vacation advertisers in your filter thinking you don’t want to advertise on a financial site is a mistake as it will be chosen as a relevant ad for this specific reader.

 

LOOK AT YOUR SITE FROM THE TOP TO BOTTOM

 

Adsense allow you to publish up to 3 units per page. Instead of trying to fit all of them above the fold, the Adsense team suggested to look at your site from top to bottom. Therefore, having an ad above the fold (in the side bar or within content) and keeping the other two for the middle of your page and the bottom of your page is more effective. Their point is that your “above the fold” block might have a CTR of 2%, it shows a CTR of 0% for readers that are now in the middle of or finishing your article and are going to comment. This is why offering “multiple options to click on ads” is a strategy that could work well.

 

THE NEW WAVES

 

Another interesting part presented by the Google Adsense Team was the “new wave” coming soon on the internet. I like knowing what’s coming according to Google since they “own” the internet. Therefore, it gives you a pretty good idea on what they currently focused on.

 

GOOGLE +1 & SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Google is paying more and more attention to social media. Google +1, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Mentions on these sites are a healthy sign of great content on your blog. It’s far from being perfect in my opinion but Google tends to lend more weight to social media. I guess my opinion doesn’t count much when I compare it to the big G, right?

 

MOBILE

 

Those who have been to the FinCon12 were advised to consider mobile users on their blog platform. The usage of internet from smartphones and tablets is just skyrocketing. If your blog can’t be read on a mobile platform, you will be losing readers… and money! If you are curious to see what your site looks like on smartphone, try How To Go Mo.

They were also providing different sizes for ad units for mobile (the best ones are 320×50 and 300×250) along with three different layouts:

 

howtogomo

 

DFP WHAT’S THAT?

 

Double Click for Publisher. Have you ever heard of that? If you are big enough (i.e. many sites, many advertiser networks and many headaches running them), you will be interested by DFP. It’s basically an ad manager used to control your ad units across your websites. DFP will manage your ads for you based on performance. It is also easier for you to change an ad or plan for a timely campaign. I’ll definitely take a closer look at this free Google product. If anyone has used it, I would greatly appreciate your comment!

 

1 ON 1 MEETING

 

The obvious reason why everybody goes there is to get the 15-20 minutes 1-on-1 meeting. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by this part. I was expecting to get more advice or suggestions for my own sites. I know I’ve done a lot of tweaking already but I was expecting more than “you should add text + image units” on your site.

 

At least, I was able to confirm that a CTR of 1% was average and one of my sites that has a CTR of 4% is awesome. The funny part is that this is the same site which had been hit by Google… tsss….The only interesting suggestion I get out of it is to get more ad units bellow the fold in order to get more people to click on ads… nothing to write home about!

 

MEETING NEW PEOPLE

 

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone at the meeting! Haha! While we were about 15-20 people, I was able to talk with a few of them. I even exchanged emails with a guy who runs a disability insurance site . I was happy to connect with other web entrepreneurs and what was interesting is that they all come from different niches (insurance, diet, grocery coupons, house boats!).

 

These kinds of meetings are always interesting, but once again, when I calculate my time, gas and a parking ticket ($24!!!!), I don’t think I got a deal by going to meet Google Adsense Team on that day. I would have been better off staying in my basement and working on what adds value to my sites!

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Comments

It is still pretty cool they invited you. I know I am not optimizing my AdSense but one of my banners was performing horribly (virtually no clicks) so I got smart and removed it to put more valuable content in its place.

Mike – Did they not provide BEER and PIZZA and comp your parking?! IF not, what’s up Google!

Pretty interesting to see Google reach out to publishers. Could it be a sign of desperation as more competition comes in?

by: The Financial Blogger | November 5th, 2012 (11:20 am)

@Lance,

that’s a great move! if you are not making money with an ad, there is nothing positive out of it: some readers don’t like that and you are not making money anyway!

@Sam,

nope, they were offering cofee and breakfast, they are smart 😉 $24 for the parking thought…

I think Google is looking to make money from everything and keep its “monopoly”. It’s hard to keep a monopoly active over years, talk to Microsoft about it 😉

Goodness knows Google has enough money to do whatever they want.

Just don’t be surprised when anti-monopoly cases from the US gov’t start getting filed.

I’m surprised it hasn’t started yet!

Interesting. I think that mobility is becoming more and more important for all websites including blogs. If someone can’t access your blog on their mobile device, or your content/layout is messed up when they try to bring up the web page, they will almost instantly leave. And because so many people are starting to only use their phone as their main source of going on the internet, having all of that in line is really important.

I have spoken to the adsense team as well but it seems that they tell you one thing and search team says another. One of my sites a was actually told where to put ads by adsense to capitalize but then got and email for having too many ads. The adsense team was the one who told me to put the ads.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 6th, 2012 (1:41 pm)

@Thomas,

I know, the Adsense team told us that they are completly kept seperate from the SEO team. I totally understand that. However, I really wonder why the Adsense team knows less about SEO than most bloggers thought! Their advices could sometimes kill the site traffic!

Considering recent earnings maybe they should let the adsense people talk to the SEO lol