Optimization Tip 2: Design the “perfect” ad



Pop quiz, hotshot! What two basic things do you need to earn from Google Adsense?

Content and quality traffic? Correct! You need to have content so that targeted ads will be shown to your users and building traffic is equally important because without visitors, no one's going to click on your ads.

However, you won't earn much from Adsense with content and traffic alone. You need to "convince" visitors to click on the ads. By now you should know you can't explicitly tell them to do that (it's against Adsense's policies), so what you need to do is design the "perfect" ad that will make them click it.

The "perfect" ad is one that generates a lot of clicks based entirely on its color, type, and location in the site. You don't get to decide which ad is perfect, it's your site visitors' call. Thus you need to analyze how they "behave" in your site in order to know what ad "clicks."

Color

Google suggests that for sites with white or light background, ads should blend with or complement the content. The idea is to make users think the ad is part of the content or site, inducing them to click on the ad. Contrasting the ad — that is, having a color that stands out from other parts or content of the site — usually works if your site has a dark background. If your site is already cluttered with content and other ads, you can play with color but make sure the ads don't look "visually offensive." Users normally skip these portions of the site precisely because they know these are ads.

Location

The key in finding the perfect position for your ad lies in your understanding of how visitors use your site. Some questions to help you determine the perfect location: 

  • What do users do when they visit my site?
  • Where in my site is their attention likely to be focused?
  • How can I integrate ads in this area without being intrusive and creating clutter?

The best position varies depending on the content and type of the site. For "normal" sites, Google suggests ad placements above the fold rather than below the fold. Ads placed near content and navigational aids also do well because users are focused on these areas of a site.

In the case of blog sites, it pays to have ads that follow user navigation. Blogs are "vertical" sites, so a Skyscraper (120×600) or vertical link unit on the right side that "follows" your users as they scroll down the site are usually effective. Placing ad units after blog posts can increase earnings too, according to Google. The reason is that you provide users a "What's Next" action right after they finished reading a blog post.

For forum sites, placing ads below or after the posts rather than the header of the site generates more earnings. This is because posters normally skip the header and immediately jump to the "body" to read posts. A leaderboard after the last post is also advisable as it provides a "next step" when the content ends.

Type

Basically, this is the size of the ad. Ads should be in a size that fits well into the site rather than intrude your users' navigation. Test ad types and track them using channels to see which ones generate the most clicks. According to Google, the best-performing ads are the 336×280 large rectangle, the 300×250 inline rectangle, and the 160×600 wide skyscraper. Take note, though, that other ad types might perform better in your case.

The bad news is that implementing these guidelines don't automatically result to an increase in earnings. What matters — and what you should be concerned about — is how users "behave" in your site. For example, Google suggests to blend ads with content. If after testing your ads you saw that those with contrasting background color actually generate more earnings, listen not to Google and go instead with what your users are telling you.

Again, it's your site users who ultimately decide the ad that you should use. What you believe may not necessarily be correct and everything Google says is not always true for your site. Listen to your users because that's the only way you can discover what the "perfect ad" really is.

See other Google Adsense Optimization Tip:

Optimization Tip 1: Test and track your ads using channels

[tags]Google Adsense, google, adsense, adsense optimization, optimization tips, increase adsense income, adsense earnings, onsite advertiser sign-up, adwords, firefox, picasa[/tags]

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