Adsense is, without question, the best, most comprehensive and most accessible advertising service for small business on the web. That said, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when implementing and running Adsense as your advertising platform of choice.
Testing is everything!
New to advertising on your blog or small business website?
If you want to maximise your revenue you need to be prepared to start testing and experimenting with your ad layouts, your unique tone of voice, the ways that you are interacting with your audience – yep, basically with everything to do with the way that you run advertising on your site.
Because you have an audience unique to your platform and (ideally) content, tone of voice and indeed information that is yours to own and optimise. In this sense Adsense’s ability to provide you with unique data about what works and doesn’t work for your audience is key, because used well it can mean huge differences in the ability to optimise the monetisation of your site.
There is a lot of help out there in this regard in both industry specific and general information on how to use Adsense, how to make the most of audience targeting, offers, content optimisation and many other strategies for making sure that you are getting the best out of the product – just be aware that general knowledge won’t always be enough and that continuous testing is the best way to make sure that you’re getting best value.
Follow the Rules and guidelines
The Google advertising ecosystem is orders of magnitude larger than most of the other networks that you might choose to utilise, and paired with the huge selection of different customisation and display options it can provide by far the best choices across the board.
Understanding and staying within to the rules and guidelines that are provided for Adsense seems pretty obvious – that said it’s fair to say most people new to advertising or content generation have a tendency to dive in and try to work it out later.
Google has a fairly hard set to policies and rules around the use of their advertising products that, if not adhered to, can get you banned permanently, particularly from the use of Adsense. Therefore it is very important to read through and understand the Adsense program policies – if you’re not sure there are a huge number of articles out there on using the product properly, both from the point of view of pure set-up and also around how to utilise the policies effectively and stay within the guidelines – read them and understand them as they’re there to help you.
The bonus is that in most cases effectively staying within the guidelines can only help you in monetisation efforts. Fair to say Google would like to see you succeed here, so it is worth doing it right.
Do the Ad thing right.
This could have been number one! There are a lot of thing you can get wrong when setting up advertising in general that you can avoid with a bit of reading and understanding.
The very first thing, and the golden rule, is that your users are there to read your content, not click on the ads (although if they do that you get paid as well, which is always nice!).
Firstly, it is never good practice to disguise your advertising – you might find that disguising it gets you more clicks (maybe for a little while anyway) but ultimately it won’t help with building trust with your audience and it won’t help users to get to the goal that they have come to your site to achieve, which you ultimately want to see them do if you want them to become a return user – basically try to take them for a ride at the start and you won’t get many more chances – a user who has trust in your content is much more likely to click an ad optimised for them. To the above – if you’re disguising advertising, you’re breaking Google’s rules as well.
Second, don’t overdo it. Years ago there used to be stories of users who created websites covered in ad pixels and made millions through gaming audiences. Don’t do that, it won’t work. Particularly with some of the latest updates that Google has made to focus on content quality and trust, you want to optimise your layout for content quality, not for volume of advertising.
When you are designing your site, or redesigning for ad layouts the object should be to create and then keep a finely tuned balance between ads and content, ideally with content winning the day when necessary.
Fundamentally too many ads is spammy and could affect your rankings – worse ranking equal less audience and ultimately less clicks – think user-first and you should be okay.
These are just a few thoughts on how to optimise your ad layouts and content to be successful with Adsense – as discussed above there are a huge number of different ways to be effective and you can find masses of information out there, both from Google (they have a lot of resources available) and out on the web – testing is the key! Get started, create your first content and ad layout then start optimising from there!
Share any further thoughts that you have on optimisation and maximisation practises in the comments, be happy to hear anything that has really helped you!
Simon was the GM and Head of Business at SitePoint, and a mentor at INCUBATE.