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29

Using the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) to Boost Your Adsense Earnings

You want to make money online and know about Google Adsense. So you start a website or blog, slap some ads and watch the money come in. Great, but are you maximizing your earnings from Google Adsense?

Google CSE

In this post I want to share another Google Adsense earning optimization tip in detail.

If you haven’t yet, you can read my detailed notes from my meeting with the Google Adsense staff here.

You can also read about another effective strategy I have been using the boost my Adsense CTR and overall earnings here.

The strategy I will share is one that I personally use on several websites, including this blog.

It is the use of the Google Custom Search Engine feature, also called the Google CSE.

This is what the Google CSE is and how it looks like:

Google Custom Search Engine CSE

Yes, it’s a search function similar to a static HTML one, or that which most WordPress themes have embedded in them. The difference is that this search function can be automatically synced with your Google Adsense account so that you can maximize your earnings.

If you were to use a standard search function like the one that comes with WordPress sites, your search results page will look like the following to your readers:

Search Results Using a Regular Search Bar

If you are using a Google CSE function, your page will look like the following:

Search Results Using the Google Custom Search Engine CSE

Notice how Google Adsense ads show up on this page?

Not only does the search results page display Google Adsense ads, but your users have a higher probability of clicking on these because they are searching for something specific. Because Google Adsense is a contextual ad program, it does its best to serve ads closely related to search queries.

Unfortunately I cannot share with you specific CTR and earnings numbers because of Google’s rules, but I can tell you that my CTR and earnings have significantly increased as a result of using the Google CSE feature. The CTR is significantly higher for my Adsense for Search Ads.

Google Adsense for Search

The Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) Customizable Menu

If you already have a Google account of any sort (Gmail, Youtube, Google +, etc), simply login to Google and go to the Google CSE page here.

Once there you can create your own search engine for any number of sites you own in a matter of minutes. This is how the Google CSE control panel looks like:

Google Custom Search CSE Control Panel

This tool is robust and very powerful, and although there are several options on the left hand navigation menu, the three most common ones I use are the ones in the box. But before going there, notice the middle section requires you to name your search engine, add some keywords and a description.

Once done, go to the look and feel option to the right. Work with the options to design a search results page that is consistent with the theme of your website. For example, use the search function of this blog and notice how I have customized the look and feel to match the overall theme of the site?

Once done, go to the “Get Code” option and simply copy and paste the code to your site. For example, this blog is designed using WordPress. The search engine code is simply embedded into a text widget. Basically, place the code wherever you’d like the Google CSE to appear.

Google CSE is very flexible. You can enable users to be served results from the world wide web or your own website’s content, or both. I choose to display results from only within my site.

In addition to customizing the look and feel of the search box as well as the results page so that it stays consistent with your website for a smooth user experience, you can also enhance ad targeting by refining the CSE attributes such as adding synonyms for more targeted search results. All these options can be found in the control panel as seen in the image above.

This entire process takes less than half hour at best even for a non coder like myself. The results however are long lasting.

Google Adsense Is Not The Only Reason You Should Use Google CSE

Here is a sad truth. Many websites built on the WordPress platform are inherently flawed from a search standpoint because the built in search engine in WordPress prioritizes based on most recent material and not necessarily most relevant material. This is very important and a cause of frustration for many including myself when searching on other blogs and websites.

As if that’s not bad enough, WordPress search results mostly display full posts instead of just the Title and description, so you have to scroll through a mammoth page if you were a user. What a terrible experience!

There are two ways to fix this. You can download plugins like Relevanssi to improve search results, or use the Google CSE feature and make money in the process. I like the later option better (most of my niche sites have the Google CSE implemented while this blog right now has the default WordPress feature).

To Host on Google’s Servers or On Your Own Host?

While in the Look and Feel section of the Google CSE control panel, you will have the option of displaying search results on your server or on Google’s. The default option is to leave the results on Google’s servers.

While this is the easiest option, one can argue it is not the best because your readers will leave your site after conducting the search – although my argument is that if they find the most relevant result to be an article on your site then they will land right back onto it. But this is besides the point.

Honestly speaking, many don’t even know that they are leaving your site, especially if you do a good job making the search results page consistent with your site’s look and feel in terms of color theme, link colors, etc. You can do all of this in the Google CSE control panel. However, keeping them “on your site” does increase the time spent on your site attribute.

The problem is that Google hasn’t really designed the whole keep the search results on your site process easy enough to quickly set up search results on your own server. It’s not a difficult process, but does involve some steps and messing around in your site’s code.

If you are interested in learning this process please let me know in the comments below. It’s nothing that can’t be done. I don’t code and was able to figure it out. I can walk you through it.

Hope you found this post useful. You can take action now and get this done in less than half hour. When you’re done, you can check out another specific strategy to boost your Google Adsense CTR and earnings here.

Are you using the Google CSE or are you using the default HTML search bar that came with your website theme? Why? What do you think about using the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) to boost your Adsense earnings? What questions or concerns do you have regarding this topic?

If you feel this post has helped you in any way, please help me spread the word by Tweeting, Liking or Sharing it with others by clicking one of the buttons below.

66

A Proven Practical Tip to Mega Boost Your Google Adsense CTR & Earnings

I know that relying on Google Adsense is not the most secure revenue stream, but if you are making money through the Google Adsense program then you might as well maximize your earning potential.

Boost Your CTR

Many who work online have been earning very well from this program for years, with numerous stories of individual entrepreneurs earning well over $100,000 a year from Adsense all over the internet.

I have been earning passive income using Google Adsense and some other contextual ad programs for a few years now. If you are new to this blog, here is an example of my Adsense earnings if you are curious how much this income stream contributes to my online earnings.

Basically, the main revenue drivers of your Adsense earnings are the cost-per-impression (CPM), click-through rate (CTR) and page views. While I have discussed increasing traffic and thus page views quite a bit on this blog (you can search for articles in the archives), in this post I want to discuss one way to significantly increase both your CTR and overall earnings from Adsense.

But before getting into this tip, there are some basic fundamental ways to increase your Adsense earnings by improving your CPM and CTR. These are “gimmes” that you should consider and implement immediately. You can read about those in my notes from my meeting with the Google Adsense team.

Once you have optimized your existing Adsense earnings, consider the following strategy, which has boosted my Google Adsense CTR and earnings significantly.

The Silent Sales Machine Embedded in My WebSites

If you have been following my journey on the Extra Money Blog, you likely already know that I generate a significant portion of my passive income from a portfolio of static websites. Many of these static websites also have a relevant eBook that is sold on each, which is why I have a large portfolio of eBooks as well on various eBook distribution platforms such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Not to get on a long segway here, but eBooks are one of the best and most turn key ways to generate passive income without having your own blog or website. You can read why here. If you are interested in profiting from eBooks, you can read my 25,000+ word comprehensive series on eBooks here.

The reason I mention this is because many of my static websites have in them an email opt in form that I use to collect the email addresses of my site’s readers and visitors. Once I have their email addresses, I can communicate with them using a pre written series of auto-responders (automatic personalized email messages) scheduled to reach their email inboxes after various increments of time (for example, weekly).

This process works on auto pilot once set up. If you are not familiar with how this works, you can read more about how I use email auto-responders here.

In addition to building rapport and delivering high value for free, one of the uses of these auto-responders is to “subtly” promote the eBook that is sold on the website. Needless to say that because the value delivered in the emails is of high quality, the conversion percentage (number of readers who end of purchasing the book) of buyers is also very high.

But there is one more way that I utilize my email auto-responder tool, and that’s to significantly boost my Adsense CTR and earnings. How? Let’s go over this.

Embedding Invisible WebPages in Your Email Auto Responder Tool

In my automated email newsletter series, I usually have a few emails that are very brief in nature but point my readers to a link where they can get more information. For example, I may send an email that reads like this:

Hi (Reader),

I wasn’t able to email last week because I was busy working on a new webpage on my site, where I have compiled a list of the top 10 (fill in the blanks) where you will learn how to (fill in the blanks). This is already proving to be one of the most visited pages of my site. You can visit this page here: (link).

I will be back with more tips next week

Notice the brevity. The goal is to get the reader to quickly get through the email and click the link. Not surprisingly, these emails also have the highest click through rate for me, which means the number of readers who are clicking through the links embedded within the email such as the one above.

When they click on this link, it takes them to a “Adsense heavy” webpage that exists outside of my website. What do I mean?

Basically, imagine one webpage that is not physically linked to your website, but exists in the cyberspace on your host. This webpage has a URL like any other webpage of your website. What I’ve done to this webpage is taken all the links and navigation options out. I have embedded a couple YouTube videos on the page, and large ad unit blocks right next to the videos.

You don’t have to embed videos. I have similar webpages where I have a bullet point list of key tips. The point is to take readers to a page with lots of quality info and no other links to distract them.

When readers are done reading the material or viewing the video, they can either click the X on the top right and shut down the page or click on an ad that is blatantly apparent. As you can imagine, my click through rates on these pages is very high. Here is an example of what one of those pages looks like.

Invisible Page With No Links and Distractions

That’s all the page is. Lots of white, big Google Adsense ad units, and no links. There is a link to this webpage below.

This Strategy Works and Does Not Violate the Google Adsense TOS

This strategy works great. Why?

First off, the webpage you send your readers to is very inviting in the sense that there is a lot of white space – breathing room for the eyes. The reader will likely take time to either read the material on the webpage or watch the videos you have embedded.

Once done, normal user behavior is to look for something to click on to move on. Because there are no navigation links on this page, the reader can either shut the browser down or click on an ad. Many users don’t like to shut the internet browser.

Although I had some inclination that this strategy is compliant with Adsense policy, I confirmed my understanding by asking a Google Adsense rep directly when I met with them. I was told this strategy is fine and doesn’t break any of Google’s rules.

I was ecstatic to know this and since then have created several other similar pages for several of my websites, resulting in higher Adsense earnings. You can read my detailed notes from my meeting with Google here.

Concluding Thoughts

I first learned about this strategy from Adam Short, whose training course I have taken in the past and currently am an affiliate off. Though many of his instructional material need updates, a lot of the core concepts in his training still work today.

Because Google’s rules doesn’t allow me to share specific CTR details, I can’t do that here, but I can tell you that it has increased significantly where I have applied this strategy. This obviously has led to higher earnings from Adsense. I currently have this strategy working on several websites.

You are welcome to see how this strategy works exactly by visiting one of my websites that has the auto-responder feature. If you sign up for the emails, you can get a feel for how I market my eBooks. You can visit one of my website’s here. You will notice the sign up for immediately to the right hand side. This is also a strategy I picked up from Adam when I was going through his training.

Although I have highlighted a couple uses in this post, there are several other uses for an email auto-responder tool as well. You can read about how I utilize this tool in different types of businesses, including a brick and mortar store that I own here.

I have been using the Aweber email auto-responder tool ever since they started in business and am an affiliate of their product which I love and fully stand behind. If you are interested in this email auto-responder tool and have questions or need some help, please feel free to reach out to me.

Alternatively, they have a very helpful tutorial that walks your through the entire process of getting started, as well as a very helpful support staff that you can talk to online via chat, email or through phone.

So what do you think about this strategy to boost your Google Adsense CTR? What are other creative and effective uses of an email auto-responder tool that you are familiar and/or experienced with?

If you found this post helpful, I’d appreciate it if you can help me spread the word by Tweeting it, Liking it or Sharing it using the easy click buttons below.

35

Notes from My Google Adsense In Your City Visit and My 1 on 1 Meeting With Google

Few months back I received an email from the Google Adsense team indicating that they would be visiting my city along with a few others. I am not sure whether all Adsense publishers are extended an invite by default, but I was extended an invitation to attend a presentation at a nearby hotel.

Google Adsense Goodies - Adsense in Your City

(Click to enlarge image)

These are some free goodies Google handed out, include a water proof Google bag, color coded cool name tag bands and a Google branded ball pen. Not pictured here are: Google Adsense in Your City notepad and the numerous delicacies I indulged in.

I know at least 2 other Adsense publishers in my city who did not receive the email, which makes me want to believe that only selected Adsense publishers were targeted based on their Adsense earnings.

If you are curious how much money I make from Google Adsense, you can see some examples here, including my three top Adsense revenue producing websites here.

The presentation concluded with a one on one session with a member of the Adsense team. The one on one session was an evaluation of any one of my websites for 5 to 10 minutes. In this post I want to share with you the key takeaways and lessons learned from my meeting.

Morning Check-In and Before the Presentation

I signed up for the mid morning session at a nearby classy hotel property. I checked in and picked up my goodies (see above) and started networking with others who attended. I also spoke with several of the Adsense team members since I had gotten there early. I also had a chance to visit the food and refreshment table which was quite generous, including some very delicious heart attacking pastries, courtesy of the hotel.

I have always been fascinated by Google as an organization. In fact as a practicing CPA I had applied to work for Google a couple years ago and was offered a job in their Mergers & Acquisitions group based out of their Headquarters in Mountain View, California. One of the team members at the event had several friends in the accounting and finance department, so it was also good to do some name dropping and realize that we knew some of the people in common from my campus tour and interview process.

When the session started, it was broken up in several segments, which I will also break out in my notes below for ease of follow. We had some questions and answers after presentations, after which we all had our one on one sessions. I took advantage of the Q&A session by getting an answer to a very important question that you will read more about below.

Overall, the check in process was smooth, the freebies given were really cool especially if you are a Google Groupie, and the hotel facility they picked was top notch. The food was also fantastic.

Let’s now get into the presentation notes…

Ad Revenue is Directly Correlated With Ad Impressions

We don’t need anyone to tell us that ad revenue is a function of ad impressions. The more ads shown, the more potential clicks and the higher the potential revenue. However, we do need Google to tell us how to increase ad impressions that could lead to more ad revenue.

There are three basic methods of increasing ad impressions:

  • Ad placement
  • Using the Google Custom Search Function
  • Increasing traffic to your site

I have written a lot about increasing traffic to your website on this blog and won’t get into it in this post. You can go through my archives for that. This is a good starting point.

That said, I will discuss Ad placement (includes position, color themes, ad unit types, etc) as well as the Google Custom Search function below in detail.

Which Ad Units Work the Best?

There are 4 main ad units that usually work the best in terms of CTR and revenues. These are the following:

  • 728×90 Leader board
  • 160×600 Skyscraper
  • 300×250 box
  • 336×280 large box

The main reason these units are the most effective is because most ads created by companies fit one of these sizes. The more ads there are, the more ad inventory there is and there more vendors are bidding to show for those ads. This translates into higher CPM (money earned) and CPC (money earned per click) for those ads.

Tip: If you have an ad unit that is not one of the four above appearing first on a certain page, try disabling that ad so that one of the four units above becomes the first ad served on that page. Notice how your Adsense earnings sky rocket.

Text Ads, Image Ads, Ad Quantity and Ad Placement Rules and Tips

According to Google, enabling both text and image ads gives you the highest earning potential. Some vendors only do text, while others do images, and some do both. Selecting both ensures that you always have ads serving on your webpages.

As far as placement, the Google Adsense Heatmap (click the link then scroll below) is a popular tool to gauge where the human eyes naturally flow to on a computer screen. In addition to that, several bounce rate reduction tips were given. For example, to minimize bounce rates, they recommended adding ads to the beginning and end of a webpage.

Why? When people are looking to leave your site, either when they don’t like what they see at the beginning or after they finish reading a page, it gives them something to click on such as your ad. If you really want to maximize the effectiveness of this strategy, try removing all the navigation links on the footer – but this has user experience implications. Tread carefully 🙂

Here is something that we all likely know already. They suggested that we take out the borders on the ads and make our ads blend into the content of our site, which means selecting color themes that are consistent with the website. But what’s interesting is that some bloggers have gotten into trouble doing this such as Pat from Smart Passive Income.

Basically, you are allowed up to three ad units per page as well as 3 link units. To maximize your revenue, Google recommends the following as the most ideal locations on your website:

  • Above the fold – before a reader has to scroll down the screen
  • Embedded in the content – use large ad units as page breaks to break up large content into smaller, more digestible sections
  • Close to your navigation menus and footers – yet another potential link to click
  • At the end of content on each page – give readers something to click on

Three really cool tips to share here:

Tip: Adsense automatically serves the highest paying ad where you have your first ad unit set to show. Visit your analytics and see which ad unit has the highest CTR. Take that unit and move it to slot #1 and watch your earnings grow.

Tip: They did not go into the details but they said that there is a way you can ad div tags to your ad to dictate their placement on the code. This tells the webpage which ad unit to load first. Basically this is a way to make your best performing ad unit to the top of your HTML code while the ad unit physically shows where you want it to on the page itself. This should get you more clicks on your highest paying ad unit. There are plenty instructions on this online if you just Google the topic.

Tip: Finally, check your robots.txt file to make sure you are not blocking the Google crawler. This info is also available all over the internet if you just search for it.

Basic Tips for Increasing Your CPM and CTR

CPM refers to how much you get paid and CTR refers to how many people click through to your ads. The best way to boost CPM is by using the popular ad formats (above) and opting for both text and image ads for the reasons mentioned above.

To increase CTR, blend your ads in with the content (careful not to blatantly deceive readers), wrap your text around large ad blocks, break up large sections of the site using ad blocks, place ads near navigation menus, put large ads above the fold and follow along the rest of this post, especially the suggestions on using Google custom search and filtering guidelines.

When you notice some stagnation, it is not a bad idea to make changes to the ad blocks itself such as adding a border (though not recommended) and changing color schemes slightly to revive the ads. Lots of times readers develop ad blindness. This is one way to bring out the ads back to life.

Revisit again after a few months and make other changes. It’s ok to keep recycling the same changes over and over again. The key is to monitor results after each change. Stick with an ad variation until the CTR drops. When it does, you know it’s time to make another change 🙂

The Google Custom Search Box Function

If you build a website or blog today using WordPress, most themes come with a default search bar, which while works fine, doesn’t really optimize your Google Adsense earning potential.

Google also has a custom search engine (CSE) feature that you can use to embed into your site instead of a standard feature. Why?

With Google Custom Search, you can embed a similar search functionality to your site but the results page include Google Adsense ads on them which look like this:

Google CSE Results Page

Notice the Adsense ads on the right? Many times these ads also appear on the top of the search results, resulting in more clicks. You can earn revenue from these ads as well. Since searches are targeted, chances are these ads are also very relevant, leading to more clicks and revenues for you.

Google CSE is very flexible. You can enable users to be served results from the world wide web or your own website’s content, or both (I like to keep things in house). You can also enhance ad targeting by refining the CSE attributes such as adding synonyms for more targeted search results and customizing the look and feel of the search box as well as the results page so that it stays consistent with your website for a smooth user experience.

Google doesn’t allow us to disclose specifics such as our CTR, but I can tell you that mine have increased significantly since implementing the CSE. This of course has led to higher revenues. You can access the Google CSE here.

The DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) Option

If you are an Adsense publisher you may recall receiving an email sometime in early to mid 2012 about the DoubleClick for Publisher (DFP) program. There was also a video that was embedded in the email.

If it didn’t make sense back then, consider this. DFP is basically an ad serving program sponsored by Google. If you have more than one ad network that you are displaying CPM or CPC ads with such as I do, or if you serve private ads directly by accepting vendor offers, you can set up a single HTML code and manage your ad server with the numerous ads while not having to make changes to the ad HTML code.

Why would you want to do this? Why not? Let’s have a look…

  • You have everything you can manage in one place
  • It’s much easier to manage multiple ad networks through a single sign on platform
  • You never have to make changes to your ad HTML code (big pain in the A$$)
  • Once you set up your DFP, the rest of it pretty much works on auto pilot
  • If you have multiple users, you can provide them with login access only for their campaigns on your site – this feature is excellent

The DFP was probably the most jaw dropping part of the presentation for me. It’s not going to be applicable to the majority, but for those that can find use of it, it’s great. You can schedule ad placement automatically and before hand.

Here is an example that was provided. Imagine it’s Halloween time and you have a Halloween site. Imagine someone in Hershey’s marketing department contacting you and wanting an ad run for October. So you go in and schedule the Hershey’s chocolate campaign to run from October 1-31st.

Once you do that, that ad replaces of all other ads during that time period and you don’t have to mess with the HTML ad code. Most publishers manually have to add the private ad campaign and then later remove it once Halloween is over. Imagine doing this for multiple private vendor ads through the year for multiple websites?

And as if this is not wow enough, check this out. DFP has in it a “Dynamic Allocation” feature, which basically means that you can add ads from all your ad networks to ad spaces on your site. Guess what happens when you do that? The ad with the highest paying bidder shows first. Wow. Talk about maximizing revenue for every single impression on your site! And yes, DFP allows split testing of ads to tell you which are most effective.

I have a few sites that attract a heavy amount of private vendor ads. In addition I use both Google Adsense and Chitika ads on them. DFP has definitely helped me out with these. But is DFP right for you? Answering 2 simple questions will get you the answer:

  1. Do you work with other ad networks?
  2. Do you get private ad offers?

If you are not getting private ad offers yet, these are very lucrative. Read how you can get more private ad offers here.

DFP is a no brainer for a small business. You can check it out here.

No, DFP has no impact on your ad loading speed or your website load speed.

Mobile Internet Usage and Mobile Ads

This part of the presentation was really eye opening. It is no surprise that mobile internet usage is taking over the world, or so it seems at least. It’s interesting because I was in India, and then Hong Kong and China recently. Even the maids who work full time cleaning homes at a mere $100 per month were equipped with the best hand held gadgets and were on the internet frequently.

Mobile sales have surpassed computer sales. In fact there are more mobile devices sold than there are people in the world, giving us an average of several mobile hand held devices per global capita. Go figure.  That said, those who have not incorporated mobile in their overall business plan are lagging behind.

Google Adsense for Mobile

I personally believe that there are some activities that lend themselves to mobile internet usage, but there are other activities that are better executed while at rest on a personal computer. You just have to determine where you business falls in this spectrum. One way to do that is by examining your existing statistics.

If you have an Analytics program or software installed, you can gauge what percentage of your users are accessing your site from a mobile device. This will tell you whether you need to focus more on mobile user experience. A few things to keep in mind when optimizing your site for mobile use:

  • Speed of site loading
  • Prioritizing features that are most heavily used to show first and easily
  • Minimize scrolling
  • Make links stand out by manipulating size and color schemes
  • Ease of reading – readers have a much shorter span relative to reading on computer screens
  • If you are to incorporate ads, focus on the 320×50 ads as they are most ideal in size and not invasive

Since mobile internet users are the majority users of internet, advertisers are seeing this trend and are adapting to it by shifting advertising dollars to mobile ads. Many businesses are responding accordingly by optimizing their sites for mobile. Personally, maybe three of my online businesses are fit for this optimization and I am taking action. I am sitting on the rest of them for now however.

Google is definitely ahead of the curve on this one. The following are Google’s Mobile offerings:

  • Mobile Websites
  • Ad Serving Platform
  • Mobile Applications
  • AdMob
  • Adsense for Mobile Content
  • Adsense for Mobile Search

Google recommended one particular service that they work closely with if you are interested in optimizing your site for mobile usage. You can test out your site and get immediate recommendations for building a mobile version using HowToGoMo.

If your website or blog is already compatible for mobile, check this quick tip out to maximize your Adsense from Mobile earnings. You can find the archived newsletter on the Google Adsense website.

Google Adsense for Mobile Tip

Filter Selectively and With Caution

Google Adsense has a neat filter function in it so you can block ads from selected categories and companies – for example your competitors who are trying to steal away traffic. That said, the more you filter, the less the number of advertisers who bid for ad space on your site and the less the revenue you generate.

Think about it. When you block ads and certain companies from advertising on your site, you are reducing the competition for ad space on your site. Because Google Ads are auction based, the remaining vendors competing push the CPM lower for you. This is why it is very important to be careful when deciding which ads and advertisers to block.

It’s a delicate balance. On one hand, you want to block out irrelevant sites and competitors, but also want to maximize revenue. This is where testing becomes critical. Make slight tweaks and test over time and re tweak accordingly. Also revisit the filter section every once in a while and modify for changes in your business and competitive landscape.

I have always had filtering enabled. In fact after the meeting this made me do some more filtering. I can’t say that I have noticed a significant enough change though.

Always Track Your Performance

I am most guilty of this. Although I love toying around with analytics, I don’t do if as often as I should. When I do, I am not very focused. There are so many cool features and I find myself playing in Disney World hours into it with very little take away (I am working on this).

Anyway, Google says, and I agree, and you likely already know to use Channels to track and monitor ad performance as well as any changes you make. Without tracking, you are walking or running in the dark. You don’t know what is working and what isn’t.

If you are an Adsense user, login to your account and search for Channels. Click on it and read everything you can about it and then implement it! Dave Taylor has an excellent article on using Google Custom Channels. You can read it here.

My Burning Question Answered

Some time back I wrote about one of my strategies to maximize my earnings from Google Adsense. This strategy involved using an email auto responder program to point my subscribers to an “Adsense heavy” page that existed outside of my website.

Basically, imagine one webpage that is not physically linked to your website, but exists in the cyberspace on your host. This webpage has a URL like any other webpage of your website. What I’ve done to this webpage is taken all the links and navigation options out. I have embedded a couple videos on the page, and large ad unit blocks right next to the videos.

When readers are done viewing the video, they can either click the infamous X on the top right and shut down the page or click on an ad that is quite apparent and starring right at them. As you can imagine, my clickthrough rates on these pages is sky high. You can read about my strategy in detail here.

Although I had some inclination that it was completely fine to do this, I confirmed my understanding by asking a Google Adsense rep directly. I was told this strategy is fine and doesn’t break any of Google’s rules. I was ecstatic to know this and since then have created several other similar pages for several of my websites, resulting in higher Adsense earnings. You can see how I do this step by step here.

1 On 1 With a Google Adsense Representative

I was most looking forward to my 1 on 1 at the end of the session. Google asked for some preliminary info before the event so I assumed they must have done some home work prior to this session. Unfortunately, most of what was discussed was stuff I already knew. No homework was done (I was foolish to expect this).

Though disappointed because of my own high expectations (the advice seemed very generic and not personalized), this session reinforced something very important – Google Adsense and Google Search clearly have disconnects! You will read why below…

My Rep kept pushing the need to go mobile. They emphasized using the larger ad units throughout the site, and adding more ad units where possible. I was also told to include the largest and highest converting rectangular ad unit on the top of the site, moving another ad I had there slight lower.

That’s about the jist of my 1 on 1.

Google Adsense and Google Search Don’t Talk Much – Or At All?

There was one thing that was definitely reinforced in this meeting – the Google Adsense and Google Search teams DO NOT communicate – at least it feels that way. If there was any little doubt left behind in my mind, this meeting definitely cleared it.

It is perplexing, and amusing at the same time, to observe how contradictory the advice is coming from each department of the gigantic Google organization. As much as I am fascinated about the Google organization that I once considered working for, and as much as I like the company (I am an investor as well), and as many of their products that I use, the organization, like any large and complex conglomerate, has its challenges.

What’s even more interesting is that subsequent to the event, I made some changes to some of my sites, one of which was adding the largest rectangular ad block above the fold on my site’s header according to the suggestions. While CTR and Ad revenue did increase, the Google search team shortly announced the upcoming “too many ads above the fold” algorithm change.

This is what happened to my website on which I had implemented the change after the algo change went into effect:

Too Many Ads Above the Fold Algo Update

Now here is the amusing, or not so amusing part of it all. Subsequent to the traffic drop, I have received several emails from the Adsense team telling me that I am missing out on CTR and ad revenue opportunities because X amount of my webpages are missing the large ad above the fold. I have also received emails telling me I can further optimize my revenues by adding more ad units to several webpages.

There are several other disconnects here which I won’t get into and bore you with. But I am not sure what I really should be doing. Should I laugh or should I cry? Should I believe or ignore? Buy or no buy? Or should I just eat chilled grapes? Or perhaps should I redirect all Google emails to go to my spam box? Many of us are left perplexed just like this.

Google Adsense in Your City Key TakeAways

Here is a high level summary of the key takeaways from the meeting:

  • Attend these type of sessions when you can. The learning and networking is great, not to mention the cool freebies and giveaways.
  • Review the Google Adsense Heat Map map and highly consider this when placing ads
  • Blend in ads with site colors and themes – though some have been warned about this without reason (see above)
  • Larger ads work best both for higher CTR and overall revenue
  • Reduce filtering
  • If you are serving ads from multiple servers/vendors, consider DFP – DoubleClick for Publishers
  • Mobile is huge and getting bigger. If your site lends itself to mobile use, look into this for sure. Check your existing stats to see what percentage of your existing readers are already coming from mobile. This will tell you whether you should pay more attention to this space.
  • Google Adsense and Google Search do not talk! Both amusing and confusing.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall the Google Adsense in Your City is a well planned and put together event. It is clear that Google is committed to the Adsense program and its publishers – or maybe the Adwords spenders 🙂 They are certainly spending a good amount of money on these initiatives which they really don’t need to do. I just wished there was more internal communication within Google that results in more accurate and meaningful information for Adsense publishers to truly help us in our businesses.

I recommend attending such events whenever you are extended an invitation. These meetings are a good learning and networking opportunity. You never know who you are going to meet. For me, I had a chance to meet and network with other successful Adsense publishers, as well as talk to the Adsense team not only about Adsense, but about Google as an organization and learn more about their operations.

Talking to employees is always interesting because of the inside perspective you get. We all know a lot about Google, including the wonderful paradise it is to work in, but hearing the perspective of those who are in that paradise day in and day out is quite interesting, enlightening and eye opening.

I also picked up some cool tidbits. While a lot of what was discussed was stuff I already knew, but there was a lot of new beneficial information as well that I picked up. For example, I didn’t know that you could ad some div tag code to your webpages so that although your ad units appear “high up” on a webpage, they are actually lower or on the bottom part of the code.

This is important because site crawlers and robots identify the ad code as being “below the fold.” This didn’t appear to help me with the too many ads above the fold algo update though lol.

Here is another cool factoid I picked up. Did you know Google employees are allowed to have their own websites with Adsense on them? They have to disclose their earnings as long as they are earning over a certain threshold. If I remember correctly this is $25 a month. If you are a Google employee reading this, please correct my understanding in the comments section below.

And Oh – One more thing…

This initiative is ongoing, at least from what the Google employees told me. So look for the next time Google Adsense is in your city and make sure to attend.

At the end of the presentation, the Google Adsense in Your City team will provide you with a *secret* website, where you get to send them an email and tell them if you made any changes to your site based on your 1 on 1 session. In exchange, they will send you a cool comfy Google Adsense T shirt along with your choice of either three Google branded golf balls or a USB port.

Google Adsense Tshirt & Golf Balls - Adsense in Your City

(Click to enlarge image: Goodies include comfy Google Adsense T shirt and a choice of either three golf balls branded with Google’s logo or a 4 port USB extension)

I had no idea I had this much to share. We are nearing 5,000 words in this post and that concludes my summary of notes from my Google Adsense in Your City meeting. I hope you found them useful.

There are some very cool Adsense optimization tips here. They are certainly practical enough so that you can take action and implement them immediately. If you do I’d love to hear about your experience so please share them in the comments below.

If you are not already generating money through the Adsense program, it is one of the most turn key methods to start monetizing your website or blog, especially if you are relatively new to the internet marketing space. I have several articles on Google Adsense in the archives of this blog that may help get you started.

Have you heard of these meetings? Have you been to one? If you have, what else did you learn that is not already covered in this post? What did you find most interesting/uninteresting? Did you like it? Why? Please share your experiences in the comments section below. I’d love to hear more about your experiences.

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