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.

optimal ad placement

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”.
Arthur et les Minimoys hd

Exclusive Interview with Founder of OneHertz.com, Designer of the Mandigo Theme for WordPress

One of the most powerful features of a custom blog installation is the ability to store content in a database and then display that content dynamically within a theme that outlines the layout, style and often contributes additional functionality for the site.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of themes available now for WordPress, many of which are free and many that transform a basic WordPress installation into a very powerful CMS.  Free themes usually add some color and design to a site but not many free themes afford as much extra ammo as Mandigo

by independent developer OneHertz.

A Default Home Page Using Mandigo, a free theme for WordPress

A Default Home Page Using Mandigo, a free theme for WordPress

Mandigo offers a wide variety of color schemes that can be changed on the fly, dynamic sidebars that can be moved from the right to the left side, automatic bolding of hyperlinks, auto drop caps at the top of paragraphs and even additional fields for HTML, Javascript and CSS inserts – all without having to know a thing about code.  From the huge array of free themes available, I have found it to be by far the most versatile and powerful option out there short of having to pay a hefty license fee for comparable premium themes.

Intrigued by this hefty “Donationware” package, I conducted the following interview with Tom Picard, the creative mind behind Mandigo.

WP-Blogger: Tom, tell us about how you got started in design?

Well, I started making websites for personal projects, family and friends some 7 years ago but only started making a living out of it in 2006. This decision has its roots in some kind of frustration about the lack of usable websites in the travel industry: each time I needed to plan a trip or book a hotel room, it turned almost impossible to get information or see pictures of the place without asking people to send them by email. Since I thought I had the required skills and there was a market, I decided to open a business and registered OneHertz.com.

WP-Blogger: What led you to create your first WP template?

Curiosity (and to be honest, SE ranking). A few months into my entrepreneur venture, things were not going as well as I expected, particularly because of lack of traffic, so I decided to focus on improving the ranking of onehertz.com with Google. At the same time, my interest in WordPress was growing rapidly (I was making static HTML sites then) and I thought releasing a theme would be a cool way of learning something new and get a few backlinks at the same time. So I made a copy of my Kubrick folder, started tweaking it, and ended up releasing Mandigo 1.0 in December 2006.

WP-Blogger: Does it require a strong grasp of CSS?

Yes, and no. It doesn’t take much to get started. For the most part, you can just look at existing themes, use intuition and search for what you need on Google. Things only get worse when you implement options in your theme or want cross-browser support (read IE6 compliancy), and standards compliant markup.

WP-Blogger: Talk about www.onehertz.com

Things didn’t turn out as I planned, but the outcome is probably better this way. I wanted to make static sites for the travel industry and instead of that I ended up doing all kinds of WP-related development (be it custom plugins or themes) for all kinds of businesses from all over the world and this has been very rewarding so far.

WP-Blogger: What one piece of advice (that the rulebooks don’t tell you) would you give someone just getting started today building and customizing their own WP templates? XXx movie

Get Firebug, definitely. Firebug is an extension for Firefox which eases the debugging of web pages. You can monitor and edit HTML, javascript and CSS on the fly, so it’s a real life saver. It’s particularly useful for debugging CSS since it shows which properties are applied to each DOM element, and how rules override each other.

The top of Mandigo's backend Admin panel

The top of Mandigo's backend Admin panel

WP-Blogger: Mandigo is an amazing achievement of template design – it affords so much customization, is beautifully integrated into WP, powerfully SEO friendly, and yet even a beginner could use it without breaking anything.  Give me a brief history of its development:

I’ve always been more a programmer than a designer, so I tend to add fancy features in everything I make, and Mandigo is no exception. Right from the start, the theme had options inspired by what was available in the Freshy theme by jide, and this contributed to make it stand out from the crowd. After the first few updates, the theme gained in popularity and people started to contact me with ideas they wanted to see implemented in Mandigo. Each release came with its lot of new features and bug fixes thus making the theme even more customizable and popular. Actually, most of the features in Mandigo, including some of the most popular ones like HTML Inserts, have been suggested by users.

WP-Blogger: Anything else you’d like to share, let us know, have in development, parting words?

Working as a freelance designer is very rewarding but also very time-consuming. It doesn’t leave much time for family and hobbies. But when I happen to have some free time, I try to focus my attention on a few projects: a one-of-a-kind premium theme codenamed “OSes” which I’ll be releasing sometime this year, more free themes and some other personal WP-powered projects (which happen to not be suitable for all audiences.)

About the Author:

Infamous psp Keram is a new media consultant, music producer and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com