Google AdSense is a Pay-Per Click (PPC) service. Webmasters are paid a portion of the revenue which Google collects from advertisers each time a web site visitor clicks on an AdSense advertisement.
Each click may pay anywhere from a few cents to several dollars. The average click seems to be worth about $.20. The more clicks AdSense advertisers receive from your web pages, the more money you make.
The basic formula for thinking about revenue from Google AdSense is:
Revenue = (Impressions * CTR * CPC)
The methods of increasing your revenue from Google AdSense are:
- Increase Impressions
- Increase Click-Through-Ratio (CTR)
- Increase Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
The most basic method of increasing your number of impressions is to increase the traffic to your web site.
The topic of increasing traffic to your web site is beyond the scope of this article, and most likely something you are already working on.
Increase Click-Through-Ratio (CTR)
A small increase in Click-Through-Ratio can mean a large increase in revenue. A rise from a CTR of 1.0 to a CTR of 1.1 should mean an increase in revenue of 10%.
Several on-page factors can influence your Click-Through-Ratio. These factors include:
- Ad placement
- Ad color
- Ad unit style
- Total number of links
The best location to place ads is wherever the web site visitor will be looking.
Open up your web page. Where on the page does your eye immediately focus? Place an ad there.
The best performing ads seem to be ads which are inline with content. However, it can be very challenging to place inline ads across entire web sites.
Placing ads across an entire web site is usually accomplished with Shared HTML (shtml) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This effectively limits ads to appearing in the same locations across a wide range of web pages.
Ads On the Top of the Page
Ads in the page header perform moderately well. The location is a good one to catch a visitors eye. However, many web users have developed a condition known as "ad blindness" where their brains automatically skip over advertisements.
One technique to reduce ad blindness is to place the advertisement below the page header and as far into the content space as possible. If your content space can be divided into multiple sections, this may work well for you.
Ads On the Bottom of the Page
Ads at the bottom of the page perform poorly. Web site visitors tend to read a page from the top down, and may never reach the bottom of the page. In addition, web site visitors have many different browser sizes, which may cause them to never see the advertisement unless they scroll down to it.
Ads On the Right Side of the Page
Ads on the right side of the page perform moderately well, and are currently in vogue. They appear to perform slightly better than ads on the top of the page at the current time, most likely due to better resilience to ad blindess.
When using ads on the right side of the page, it is important to test your web page at several different screen resolutions in several different web browers. Your web pages should automatically resize to ensure that the advertisements do not scroll outside of the browser window or get "bumped" down below the content.
Internet Explorer appears to have a bug which can cause right side ads to be "bumped" down below the content if the total width of all sections of the web page is equal to 100%. To work around this bug, ensure that the total width of your web page is 96% or less.
Ads On the Left Side of the Page
Ads on the left side of the page may perform the best. The left side of the page is normally reserved for the web site menu. This means that users frequently look to the left side of the page.
The difficulty is determining where to place your web site menu when the left side of the page is no longer available to you. A top menu might work for you, depending upon the design and content of your web site. Placing your menu on the right side of the page is another option, but one that may confuse some web site visitors.
If Google allows more than one ad unit per page in the future, the left side of the page might become an excellent location for a single ad, either above or below the menu.
Many webmasters report that brightly colored ads which contrast sharply with the color scheme of the rest of the web page return excellent results for them.
My experience has been that ads which mimic the look and feel of the rest of my web page return the best results. This is most likely because the Google AdSense ads closely relate to the topic of the page and therefore appear to the visitor as additional content.
Ad Unit Style
The Google AdSense programs offers a wide variety of ad unit styles and sizes. The ad unit styles include:
Ad UnitDimensions Leaderboard728x90 Banner486x60 Half Banner234x60 Button125x125 Skyscraper120x600 Wide Skyscraper160x600 Medium Rectangle300x250 Large Rectangle336x280 Small Rectangle180x150 Square250x250
Leaderboard and Banner ad units are obvious choices to placement in page headers and footers. Leaderboards are preferable, because they are able to show more ads. Banners are a classic web format, and may be necessary where the width of your available space is limited.
Skyscrapers are an excellent choice for advertisements, because they appear to be less vulnerable to ad blindness than the horizontal ad formats. Google recently added the wide skyscraper format. This new ad unit displays one more ad than the classic 120x600 skyscraper unit. If you are currently using the 120x600 skyscrapers, switching to the new wide skyscraper format may increase your revenue from the Google AdSense program.
Rectangles, Squares, and Buttons are best used when placed inside a content area. This makes rectangles more difficult to place, but also gives then the best revenue potential.
Total Number of Links
Reducing the total number of links on your content pages can increase revenue from AdSense by reducing the options for a visitor.
If your web page has fifteen links and one AdSense wide skyscraper on it, the visitor has a total of twenty options for leaving your page without closing the browser window.
This means that, if the user clicks on a link, the random odds that the visitor will click on an AdSense link are 5 in 20.
If you reduce the number of other links on the page to 5, the total number of options presented to the user is now 10. This means that the random odds of a user selecting an AdSense ad are now 5 in 10.
It should be noted that Google AdSense never opens ads in a new window.
Test, Test and Test Again
Testing is the key to increasing your CTR percentages. Change your ad colors, wait a week and look at the stats. Do the same with different ad units and different ad placement.
Increase Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
Not all Google AdSense ads are created equal. Google AdWords advertisers bid for keyword combinations, and some combinations are much more expensive than others.
The Google AdSense robot, Mediabot, automatically scans your web pages and determines the appropriate ads to display on your page.
It is possible to create web pages which are designed specifically to attract certain keywords from the Google AdSense program.
To determine which keywords have a higher Cost-Per-Click, create a Google Adwords account in the Google AdWords advertiser interface. This will enable you to determine roughly what AdWords advertisers are paying for each keyword combinatiom.
Based upon this information, you may decide to create a new web page or a whole new web site.
AdSense Alternate Ads
Google AdSense is not always able to find an advertisement which matches the content of your web page. Normally, AdSense selects a Public Service Ad (PSA) and displays it in your ad space. These PSA's generate no revenue for you.
Google has created the ability to load an alternate ad when it cannot find a matching ad. This is accomplished by setting a variable called google_alternate_ad_url in your AdSense layout code:
google_alternate_ad_url = "/adsense-alternate-ad.shtml";
These alternate ads can include advertisements from Google AdSense competitors, such as Clicksor.
This capability enables you to tap into a revenue stream which would normally by lost to AdSense PSAs.
Future Improvements to AdSense which will Increase Revenue to You
Google is constantly improving the AdSense program. Many of these improvements will mean additional revenue in your pocket.
Google has recently improved the speed with which MediaBot accesses new web pages. This means that you start earning revenue more quickly.
Google is constantly working to improve the relevancy of AdSense ads. Ads which are more relevant are more likely to be clicked on by web site visitors.
Google is currently working to give webmasters the ability to place multiple AdSense ad units on the same web page. This will enable the webmaster to place five small single-ad units around the web page, instead of one wide skyscraper. This should considerably reduce losses from ad blindness.