Using Adsense to Analyze and Optimize Your Blog

In your travels as a blogger, you will eventually and inevitably hear about a thing called “Adsense,” a service from search engine giant Google that displays contextually relevant ads on your web page. Essentially you place Google’s Adsense code on your web page in a text widget or in the HTML view of a post, and the code will scan your site for subject matter and then display ads from businesses looking for audiences interested in similar subjects. When a reader clicks on one of these ads you are credited for the click-through – depending on how the advertiser is set up, you will be paid a small percentage as a commission if a sale is made as a result of that click through from your site.

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The word “sale” is also a relative term – a sale can mean cost per acquisition – which could mean not an actual purchase, but instead getting people to arrive at a certain page designated by the end-user/reader.  Adsense is a very big subject and beyond the scope of this article, but it is a powerful way not only to find small amount of revenue for your blog, it is an very useful way of seeing and learning how pages on your site, or even sections of pages are working with your readers.  By placing ads with proper names at different locations at your site you can see where you are getting click-through and over time these numbers become statistics and those statistics can begin to give you a more three-dimensional understanding of how your site is being used so that you can improve its efficacy. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason full movie

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

I log into my Adsense account, create an ad, in this case, let’s start with a 160 (wide) x600 (tall) “skyscraper” add. I will choose the font “Arial” to match the font on my blog, pick some colors that blend with or match the colors of my site’s template (this is again, totally up to you, though there are many articles about best practices and techniques for dealing with Adsense colors and how they interact with your content) and then I will assign it to a channel. I will create a new channel for this ad, based on not only the name of my site, but also, name the channel to reflect WHERE on my site I will place this ad. For example, this ad’s channel I will title: WP-BLOGGER SKYSCRPR AD LEFTTOP.  This is just an arbitrary title I have created for this example which to us will mean “An Adsense ad measuring 160×600, for the WP-Blogger.com site that will be positioned on the left sidebar, “above the fold.”

After I create the channel, and add the Adsense ad I have created to it, I will go to the next page where I will be prompted to name the ad itself. In this case, I could simply name it the same thing as I did the channel, but why not use this to add more information for later study? I will name the ad itself – WP-BLGR SKYSCR ARIAL BLEND.

Google will now give me a box with code I can copy and paste and place into a standard text widget that will go on the left sidebar of my blog in the top position.

Over the course of time, visitors to my site my decide to click on one of the ads that will appear in this position. When I now go to my Adsense stats, I may see that WP-BLOGGER SKYSCRPR AD LEFTTOP has had 10 clicks in a day. Maybe on day two it has another 10-15 clicks.

I will now create a second ad – this time a large 300×250 square that will go at the bottom of my posts. I will similarly give it an appropriate name and also create a unique channel for this one and copy and paste this Adsense code at the bottom of my posts within the HTML view of my article. (I also like to add “center” tags around the code for aesthetic purposes.)

Now, over time, I can see which of these two ads is performing better; if I see after several weeks that the 300×250 ad is getting 50 clicks a day and that the 160×600 is still only getting 10 then I know something. But what do I know? Is it the font? The color choices? If these are identical for both ads, then I can rule that out.  What about the position? The size?  I can test this out by creating two new ads with their own respective channels for the right sidebar, or top of posts and see if that makes a difference.

Ad Placement Kama Sutra

There is no hard and fast rule for what will work on every page or site. Even the campaigns that claim to teach you a “surefire, bulletproof, 100% satisfaction or your money back” method for optimizing your Adsense placement are not able to predict your style, your template, your demographic, or otherwise. This is something you need to test for yourself.

Some people will tell you that using standard “HTML colors

” like blue for text links, is mandatory. I am not sure why – it isn’t as though the public hasn’t been online in huge numbers for at least a decade – I don’t think they are going to be confused by links that aren’t blue and underlined. Again, the point is – try different styles and positions (now this sounds like a Tantra class) for yourself and see what the stats tell you OVER TIME. Yes, there is no fast and easy answer. Your blog is going to grow and develop and evolve and mature and change and so is your site’s audience.

Adsense is not just a way of monetizing your blog, it is a way of giving yourself deeper analytical insight into what is working and how the layout is. Typically it is wise not to use too many ads on your site.

Simpler tends to be better.

Adsense is free sign-up, free to use, no credit card required. Just Google “Adsense” and get started. Even better, if you Google “Analytics” you can set up a Google Analytics account and link that to your Adsense account. I find that Google Analytics, as exhaustive as it may seem, only gives you a part of the whole picture. Although it has functionality to set goals and test conversion rates and whole bunch of other design, marketing and SEO terms you may not want to delve into yet, having Adsense show you exactly what people are clicking on that isn’t content related but instead commerce related, may give you some idea of what they are really hungry for.

This article is not about chasing the pennies around the table, however. I am not advocating changing up your content to influence the ads themselves. That is an entirely different practice. What I am interested in demonstrating here, is a way to both learn to use Adsense well, to better understand the audience your site is attracting, and ultimately to understand how well your blog is steering people through your traffic by seeing how they are navigating their way through it.  Adsense tends to be a “call to action” – whereas your content may contain musings or tips on a subject – Adsense ads are designed by their creators to say “Click Me!”   Thus seeing where visitors end up clicking most, tells you where their eyeballs are going as they scan your page.

As I said before, using Adsense effectively is a massive subject and there are hundreds if not thousands of experts in the field so you can leave this article with the assurance that there is a lot of information out there to expand on what I have only touched upon.

A Lil’ Something For WP-Lovers

I would be remiss not to offer at least one cool WordPress plugin to go with all of the hyperbole above and that is Joost de Valk’s “Google Analytics for WordPress“.

This little Swiss Army knife “automatically tracks and segments all outbound links from within posts, comment author links, links within comments, blogroll links and downloads. It also allows you to track AdSense clicks, add extra search engines, track image search queries and it will even work together with Urchin.

“In the options panel for the plugin, you can determine the prefixes to use for the different kinds of outbound links and downloads it tracks.”

Once you have your Adsense and Analytics all setup, give it a whirl and see if it makes things easier or more convenient. It isn’t a must, but it might give you some new ideas about using all these powerful tools together.

What techniques do you use to understand how Adsense is working for you?

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

and society at theculturepin.com. Keram recently released a solo acoustic CD titled “Box”.
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5 Plugins for Amazon.com Integration

One of the first things a new blogger should do when seeking to monetize their WordPress blog is to sign up for the Amazon Associates program. What is it? Basically it’s Amazon.com’s affiliate program where you can make a percentage of commision off of every purchase that you refer to them. It’s not a huge percentage and you won’t get rich doing it, but by setting things up correctly, you can generate a steady income from referring people to Amazon.com.

The best part about it is it doesn’t have any strict qualifications for traffic or Pagerank so anyone can sign up and start using it. Even if you are brand new to blogging, I still recommend signing up and giving it a try.

WordPress is not friendly out of the box to the Amazon affiliate program. It can be a pain in the butt to go to Amazon.com, find the affiliate links and get them to look right in your blog. Fortunately, some helpful people have written some great WordPress plugins to help you integrate Amazon.com into your site.

Below are five plugins that will help you monetize your site with the Amazon.com Associates program.

Amazon Showcase WordPress Widget

Amazon Showcase Plugin is a really easy way to integrate Amazon items in your blog using your associate’s ID.

From the Description:

“Amazon Showcase is a WordPress Widget/Plugin for showcasing items from Amazon. Simply enter the ASIN/ISBN numbers of any products and optionally enter an Associate ID for earning commissions. The product image will be displayed with a link to the product detail page on Amazon.com. More advanced users can have full control over the way the products are displayed.”

Download Amazon Showcase Widget

Amazon Search

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This plugin will create a custom Amazon search page so that people can search Amazon.com from within your site. This is the perfect tool for your readers because they can find any product they are looking for right from your site.

From the Description:

“This plugin provides an Amazon Search widget which will search any of the amazon servers and produce search results with direct links to products. It also allows you to link directly to items in your posts using a special tag.”

Download the Amazon Search Plugin

Amazon Reloaded for WordPress

Amazon Reloaded is a very powerful plugin for integrating Amazon.com products within your blog posts. It makes it much easier than logging in to your Amazon Associates account and creating links. I love plugins that allow you to do things right from inside your WordPress admin panel.

From the Description:

“This plugin makes it easy for post authors to quickly search Amazon’s index from their posting page, and grab text links to place in their posts. The text links can optionally contain an individual’s affiliate tag. Also, the blog administrator can choose which Amazon locale that they wish to use from a list of the following: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom.”

Download Amazon Reloaded

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Amazon SmartLinks Widget

This plugin is perfect for adding your wishlist (or any other list) to your blog sidebar. This works great if you have some spare real estate on your sidebar and are looking for something to put in it.

From the description:

“Use this plugin to add automatically updated Amazon SmartLink lists for your sidebar. You can add widgets to display Best Selling Books, Albums, Electronics, DVDs, or your personal Wish List. You can also make money by adding your affiliate IDs for Amazon, eBay, and Google.”

Download Amazon Smartlinks

WP-Amazon-Carousel

This is a cool tool that will put mini Amazon flash widgets in your posts by using a simple tag. It’s very easy to use and will make it easy for you to add widgets to your posts.

From the Description:

“Add slick looking Amazon Carousel widgets to your blog posts in a brain-dead simple way! Amazon Widgets are small Flash-based mini-applications that bring Amazon’s rich features right to your website. The Amazon Carousel is a cute looking Flash widget which lets you showcase products that are relevant to your blog post.”

Download WP-Amazon Carousel

Do you use Amazon Associates with your WordPress blog? If so, which plugins do you use?

Monetizing Your WordPress Blog

Many people get into blogging so they can make extra money. It’s very rare that you’ll get rich by running a blog. However, running a blog can make you extra money on the side or bring about perks you may not have thought of.

Here’s our quick guide to effectively monetizing your blog.

Google Adsense


This is by far the quickest and easiest way to monetize a WordPress blog. Google Adsense is a great program. If you’re unfamiliar with it, basically Google places ads on your blog relevant to the content on the page and when they’re clicked, you get a share of the ad revenue. It can add up quickly or slowly over time. It’s easily integrated into WordPress with some helpful plugins, but really you can place ads without resorting to using a plugin. Nothing feels better than getting that first check from Google.

Affiliate Programs

Google Adsense revenue will only earn you so much. Eventually you’re going to want to place ads that are relevant to your readers. The best way to do this is join affiliate programs. These work different than being part of ad network. Instead of getting a share of click revenue, you get a commission for any sale generated from the ad. If you have good traffic and join a popular affiliate program, the money will add up quickly. Some great places to start are Commission Junction and Linkshare.

Homegrown move Direct Ad Sales

Eventually, your blog will get popular enough that you’ll be able to cut advertising deals directly with advertisers. This will pay off more than contextual ad services like Google Adsense. How do you find advertisers? Find companies that deal with products in your niche and simply approach them about advertising. You’d be surprised at how many people will want to take you up on it. Sometimes it will take persistence, but it will pay off in the end. I highly recommend that you put together an advertising packet that shows your usage stats, traffic numbers, etc so that you have something to show potential advertisers.

Bartering

This is actually my favorite method of advertising. This is where you exchange ad space on your blog for a good or service. It works great if you really want something, can’t justify spending the money for it and have a great resource like empty blog ad space. Twitter is actually a great place to ink a bartering deal. On your contact form page, it’s not a bad idea to mention that you’re willing to exchange goods and services for ad space.

Free Stuff

Even if you don’t have advertising and your blog gets popular you will inevitably get free stuff, especially if you’re an authority in your niche. Make it easy for people to contact you by having a contact form they can fill out. There are many WordPress plugins that will help you setup a contact form quickly and easily. It’s very rewarding to get free stuff in the mail, knowing that it came because of your hard blogging work.

Flipping

This is the more adventurous route. Flipping is where you simply build up a blog, get it popular then turn around and sell it. That way you don’t have to deal with the stress of monetizing it and you get a flat price. The most important thing to remember about flipping is to be realistic. A niche blog that’s been around for a few months and doesn’t get much traffic is not worth thousands of dollars. People are also starting to buy floundering blogs, turning them around and then selling them on for a profit. It can be very exciting but also very stressful.

What’s your favorite method of monetizing your WordPress blog?

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WordPress Plugins for Google Adsense

Google Adsense is the quickest and easiest way to monetize your blog. If you’re new to WordPress and not comfortable editing your themes, then you’ll need some useful plugins to help you insert your Adsense codes into your blog. Some of these plugins have similar features, but I wanted to create a rundown to help you make the best choice for your needs.

It’s best to play with many Adsense solutions and find the one that works best for your needs. There is no one size fits all solution for integrating Google Ads into your blog, other than manually editing template files.

Here is a breakdown of the best WordPress plugins for Google Adsense:

Adsense Manager Quicksand release


Adsense Manager is a very robust Google Adsense Plugin for WordPress. It generates the ad code and allows you to control the look and feel of your ads automatically. It lets you place your ads all over your blog using widgets. It also works with several other ad networks. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a great tool.

Download Adsense Manager Here

Adsense Under Image

This Google Adsense tool does one thing and one thing will, it will automatically insert an ad block under the first image in a post.

Download Adsense Under Image Here

WP Simple Adsense Insertion

This is a simpler plugin that automates insertion of Google Adsense block by using text triggers that call the ads. That way you don’t have to keep cutting and pasting the same ad code into new posts. The major perk of this plugin is that you can control when you want an ad to appear instead of just throwing ads on every post.

Download WP Simple Adsense Insertion

Easy Adsenser


Easy Adsenser is my favorite Google Adsense Plugin for WordPress. Once you set it up, it will automatically insert your ads into your posts. But the best feature, by far, is the ability to automatically insert an ad block into the middle of your larger posts. The middle of the post is a great converting ad slot, and this plugin inserts the ads automatically if the blog post is long enough (a setting you can control as well). One quick tip, though, be sure to clear out all the default Adsense ad codes that are in the plugin right after you install it, that way you don’t accidentally give another AdSense account revenue.

Download Easy Adsenser

AdSense Integrator

This is another robust Adsense Manger for WordPress. It has many features that are useful to monetizing your blog. It can also be used on more ad networks other than Adsense. It’s a little more complicated than Adsense Manager, but it gets the job done.

Download AdSense Integrator

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Monetizing Your Blog With Kontera's New Plugin For WordPress

One of the more interesting alternative to Google’s Adsense or Linkshare’s banner ads is ContentLink – a JavaScript-based solution from company Kontera that offers a contextual in-text advertising system capable of scanning your site’s text and displaying carefully selected hyperlinks to affiliate advertisers after the site has already been published.

Until recently the only way to implement Kontera’s ContentLink was to generate the code at the company’s site and then paste it into your theme’s code.  Although the Kontera system puts no strain on your server or load time by running as Javascript, it had a tendency to include all text on your page, including site name, footers, comments and sidebars!  It also had a way of claiming too much space, that is – adding too many of its trademark double-underlined links – something that could only be restricted by requesting a limit to the amount of links with the company itself.

A plugin called Kontera Ad Wrap for WordPress emerged that aimed to fix this by adding “ad zone” div tag as follows:

<div class="KonaBody">
...Content we want ad links appear here...
</div>

It worked, to an extent, but because it was a set-it-and-forget-it solution, didn’t offer much in the way of control.

But all that is behind us now as Kontera itself, certainly due to the overwhelming success and ubiquity of the WordPress platform, has released an official Kontera plugin for WordPress 2.7

and upward.

I tested it out and am thrilled with their solution!  The plugin’s admin panel simply requires that you enter your Kontera ID, select the color you would like for you affiliate links and presto you are ready for showtime.

But the real value of the plugin comes in its extended options that allow you define which categories, static pages and tags to exclude from displaying ads, whether or not the links should appear on posts and even how long it should wait before displaying ads on new posts.

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You can even choose to have the links display only on comments (perhaps because you want to keep the links in your posts front and center, and to avoid any confusion or frustration on the part of your reader who trusts those links to be pointing at legitimate resources related to the content itself).

Finally, the plugin allows you to easily toggle the Kontera option on and off right from your WP admin panel, rather than having to go into your code and chop it out.

Kontera is an excellent alternative revenue stream that really works.  John Chow gives it his big thumbs up as do hundreds of other publishers.  Because of its negligible load on your site and the efficiency of its very advanced patent-pending technology for finding the most contextually relevant ads, I strongly urge you to check it out.  Now with the company’s new official plugin designed explicitly for WordPress – there is no reason to wait.

Direct Download to Kontera-Wordpress Plugin for WP 2.7

About the Author:
Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com

and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com

Adsense for the Little Guy

Badi Jones

has written a couple of great articles about how to use google adsense to monetize your site:

Getting Over the $100 Adsense Hurdle: Talks about the process that one has to go through to get past your first hundred bucks with adsense. I read it and thought, man, this article was written for me. Very encouraging, specially if you are going through one of those phases where you feel that everything you do to monetize your site(s) is worthless.

Want to Boost Adsense Earnings? Then Start Testing

: Talks about what you can try to do to increase your adsense earnings by experimenting with ad location, format and colors, and keeping track of them by using adsense channels. It’s a mini tutorial for WordPress users as you’ll need a page that can execute PHP (however a javascript example has been included for other users).

Very useful stuff. At least for the little guy, like me…