AdSense Tips: What Decides the Ads that Get Displayed?

Time for some Adsense tips. If you have a blog or a website you must be familiar with Google AdSense, and the chances are high that you have already earned some dollars with it. When Blogger.com started giving away AdSense accounts for blogs we saw a boom in AdSense users. But only a few bloggers wondered how exactly it worked, and only a handful experimented with AdSense, tweaking their blogs to achieve better results. Because of this ignorance by many users, we see a lot of potential being wasted and many users getting frustrated over their blogs having the same ads as the others.

For the perfect example, consider the ads on this page itself. This post is the perfect example for a target for blog related ads. If you read blogs very often or if you are a blogger the ads will look familiar to you - you might even have them on your blog as well. But if you do not visit blogs frequently, you might think of them differently.

1. Observations

One thing we see across many blogs is that the ads on blogs are usually of blog related services, and a lot common set of ads are shown across many blogs. Obviously nobody would like this, since we all want unique ads and ads that are more relevant to the subject of the posts rather than the whole blog. Fortunately, this is not Google’s fault, and there are ways for you to solve this.

This post comes after having observed AdSense behavior with many many changes made to this blog. There still are things that could be done, though there is no such thing as a 100% full optimization. But the observations are worth being written down for others. This blog was first started on a first level domain name, which was primary0.mv. It was later moved it to Blogspot due to hosting difficulties and stayed there for almost a year after finally being moved here to primary0.com.

During these transitions interesting changes were seen across the type of ads that got displayed on this blog, and it probably would apply to all other web pages out there with AdSense. At one time there were many of those common blog ads, and with some changes to the structure and design, it was possible to get more relavant ads displayed. As a blogger what mattered most was to make the pages appear less “blogish” and more like a credible web page with quality content. How exactly does AdSense know a blog page from a non blog page? It would be quite easy, because it is all given right there on your blog.

Here are a few pointers that you should consider if you have AdSense on a blog or a typical website, and these points can also help optimize your website for search engines – especially Google. The last two points in this post do not have any direct affect on AdSense behavior, but they are worth considering since you need to keep your website as crawler-friendly as possible.

2. The Content (Obviously)

Like they all say, content is king. Content attracts readers, and high traffic means high paying ads. The most important thing you should note is that any time of search engine optimization or ad optimization should be taken care of after you have put some good content on your pages. If you have a lot of written text about a particular subject, it can indeed over-rule any other factor that affects the type of ads you get and how you get listed on search engines - good content can possibly make everything else irrelevant. However, the other points still can and will strengthen the page identity seen by crawlers.

3. The Domain Name

It is seen that the words in your domain name are a key players determining what the website is about. For example, it makes a big difference if your domain name has the word “blog” in it – it means that AdSense will show more ads targeted for the keyword “blog”. The affects were clearly visible when this blog went through different domain names - from primary0.mv to primary0.blogspot.com, to primary0.com/blog/ and then finally to primary0.com. The inclusion of the word “blog” in the URL made it a target for ads such as those seen on blogs hosted by Blogspot. Removing the word from the URL made a huge difference, but since this still is also a blog and have a lot of blog related content on it, blog related ads here.

4. Permalinks or Post Page URL Structure

Besides the domain name, the remaining potions of your URL does matter as much. It is recommended that you use mod_rewrite features for your permalinks if your blog platform has typical dynamic URLs - meaning a URL that goes like http://yoursite.com/2006/01/22/eye-surgery/ will get better results for the keywords “eye” and “surgery” than a URL that goes like http://yoursite.com/index.php?postid=301

There has been many discussions regarding the permalink structure on blogs and how it affects search engine and ad performance; many people now prefer alternative structures for the typical /year/month/day/post-title/ style. A good example would be to follow a /category/post-title/ structure in which you would get to include your category in your URL as well.

5. Page Title

The page title will contain the keywords for the permalink (post slug) and these two go hand in hand. Be creative in deciding a post title because the title can make your visitor decide whether he or she should continue reading your post or not. It is adviceable to try to make it more like a search phrase - use your insight to figure out how somebody would find your page on a search engine and use those terms to construct an attractive page title. The current title of this post probably reads better than “Some Cool Stuff About AdSense”.

The page title also contains an often forgotten section, that is the title of the website or blog itself. Taking the first example, it is possible that your page title reads like My Very Good Blog : Eye Surgery. When somebody finds this on a search engine, that is exactly how the title will read. If you were the person doing the search, wouldn’t you be more attracted to a title that simply said Eye Surgery without a long blog title in front it? Changing this could help you get rid of possibly irrelevant keywords in the page title (such as the word “blog”). In order to do this, try to have a different page title structure for posts on your blog. Here on this blog, the post titles are appended with pwtb instead of progressive : what the blog?; and that change made a difference too.

6. AdSense Section Targeting

According to Google:

Section targeting allows you to suggest sections of your text and HTML content that you’d like us to emphasize or downplay when matching ads to your site’s content. By providing us with your suggestions, you can assist us in improving your ad targeting. We recommend that only those familiar with HTML attempt to implement section targeting.

That pretty much explains what section targeting is about. It is very surprising that only a few, compared to masses using AdSense have implemented it. Visit Google’s support page on section targeting to get the HTML code and to get more details on it.

7. Google Sitemaps

Google Sitemaps is a service targeted for web publishers to help them achieve better indexing on Google. The excerpt on Google reads:

Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google. With Google Sitemaps you can automatically keep us informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages to help improve your coverage in the Google crawl.

To use this service, first you need to create a sitemap with the Sitemap Protocol. There are a few options available for you to do this.

  1. If you have Python on your hosting account, use Google Sitemap Generator.

  2. If you cannot execute Python, you may use the online sitemap generators at Netroglycerine or Autositemap.com. There are many sitemap generator plugins for WordPress and MovableType available for free.

  3. Else you can use a simple text file with all of your URLs in it. But the generator options are much better since the Sitemap Protocol gives more information about your site to Google.

How exactly does this help your AdSense performance? It is all about getting the latest from your site up there on Google and the edge you get with your sitemap published on Google will definitely help you get the most out of AdSense as well.

8. XHTML/HTML Standards Compliance

This must have been mentioned on the web a billion times by now. Your blog or website needs to be as clean as it can, preferably perfect, when it comes to HTML or XHTML compatibility. It is recommended that you keep it XHTML 1.0 Transitional compliant. Fitting to a standard means that you get a clean sheet from crawlers during their visits.

9. The robots.txt File

This is the first thing a search engine looks for on your website. It is not really necessary that you have this unless required. But it is indeed recommended by Google and other search engines that you do keep a robots.txt file, even if it has to be empty, in your home directory. It wouldn’t harm doing so.

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10. Conclusion: Content First, Others After

With all the points discussed, do not forget that the content is still the most important thing that decides which ads get displayed, and the traffic decides how expensive they are – and how much you actually earn. It is good practice that you keep your pages clean and usable for both humans and robots alike.

Posted January 24th, 2006 in category blogging.