Thursday, September 29, 2005

Google AdSense and Testing

If you're like most people, you find you don't have enough time to do the things you really want to do. And when you think about it, if you did, you probably wouldn't have the money to do them.

Sort of a catch 22.

The main reason you're reading this is to change all that, no? But here's the deal: It is going to take some time and patience. Those are two things most people lack nowadays. Most should be doing what my wife is doing - but that's another blog.

Ask any marketer worth his or her salt and you'll soon find that testing is the de facto standard of that industry. They track and test everything. Here's just an example:

On a 30 second radio ad they normally test the following criteria:
  • Time of day it airs
  • Adjacent programming
  • Man or woman announcing
  • Serious or comedic delivery
  • Fast or slow delivery
  • Leading paragraph
  • Frequency of ad on the air (times it runs per day)
  • Day of the week
  • Week of the month
  • Month of the year
You get the picture. They are more meticulous than those who do baseball scoring and stats. And can you guess why that may be?

Because they want to monetize every second of that airtime to their advantage. To them, it's a business - it ain't a hobby! So, approach to this whole AdSense thing is everything. Is it a hobby; a few ads on a few pages? Or are you dead serious about making this work?

If you're serious, you MUST take notes. You must become aware of what is working and, of course, what isn't.

So, how do you do that?

Google AdSense makes it easier to see what is making you money and what isn't by breaking your ads down by channel and day. You can create any number of customized reports to track the code included on your pages which displays the AdSense ads.

But, it doesn't end there. You must test, just as the radio ad people, for criteria on your webpage. Like:
  • Ad color
  • Ad placement
  • Ad type (size)
  • Ad frequency (one, two or three blocks on a page?)
Testing is impossible when you have no traffic. You need visitors (feedback, clicks), in order to track your numbers each day. Once you have visitors, you can see what works and what doesn't and adjust accordingly. Now, remember; don't go about changing your AdSense around daily. Real testing requires leaving the page as is for a week or more, unless, of course, you have thousands of visitors a day.

So, hello Dave, what do I do?

I recommend looking at the successful site that display AdSense ad's. Google has a few examples of successful AdSense campaigns. See where they place their ads. See what colors they use. And notice how they blend well with the context.

As your site receives more visitors, you'll be better able to compare your AdSense statistics with your web pages. Don't forget to do that. Treat this like a business. Print out the pages with ad's and your AdSense stats for each week and you will have an idea what is happening. And, guess what? A pattern will appear.

Take your time with this and do it right. It will pay BIG dividends if you put time into it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The History of Meta Tags

As early as 1996, a proposal was written to create a META tag to be used within the HTML of a page. Adding "metadata" tags to the HTML structure of the day for the purpose of better describing web pages. By then, hundreds of thousands of web pages had already been written, and the concern was that while pages could be indexed, there needed to be something that would allow to better automate their indexing.

Back in early 1999, papers were finally submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium a Resource Description Framework, but the tag had been in use for years.

Just as a library has a card index to catalog the millions of books, metadata was created to assist in creating the same thing for web pages. If you don't know what a Meta Tag looks like, try looking at the description at the W3 site. It is the purest form of information on HTML data.

For years webmasters were diligent including the necessary data into their pages. In fact, when you "View Source" on most web pages today you can see the meta data included within the HEAD tag. Here's an example and if you click on the image you'll see the many Meta Tag entries:

If some of this is way over your head, hang in there; we're almost to the point.

Search engines have been around since 1993. The dream was to enable their "bots" to spider the web more effectively by indexing using something (metadata) within web pages. As early as 1994, search engine bots were already indexing entire pages. Because of the popularity of whole page indexing, sites such as "Webcrawler", later purchased by AOL, could only be used at night. During the day the number of searches simply crashed the servers.

Infoseek and AltaVista were the first to use the keywords meta tag in 1996. HotBot and Lycos soon followed. But what soon became apparent in 1997 was that some web site owners would insert misleading words about their pages, and some would use excessive repetition of words in hopes of tricking the search engines into thinking their pages were more relevant (read: Spamming).

Lycos stopped supporting the tag in 1998, and newer search engines such as Google and FAST never added support at all. When Infoseek ended in 2000, only AltaVista and Inktomi remained. AltaVista then joined the crowd and stopped supporting the keyword meta tag.

"In the past we have indexed the meta keywords tag but have found that the high incidence of keyword repetition and spam made it an unreliable indication of site content and quality. We do continue to look at this issue, and may re-include them if the perceived quality improves over time," said Jon Glick, AltaVista's director of internet search.

Not sure why Inktomi hangs in there. Their explanation is:

"The meta keywords value is just one of many factors in our ranking equation, and we've never given too much weight to it. That said, we will continue to use it as long as our relevance modeling shows that it adds value," Ken Norton, director of product marketing for Inktomi's web search division.

So if by 1994 we already had contextual based search engines, why in 1999 did we need metadata?

Well, that's just the point. We didn't really need them for search engine inclusion. As a matter of fact, the W3 explains the main reason would be to notify search engines that your site contains pages in another language, and where those pages are located. But as far as using metadata to get included in search engines, W3 simply touches on the Keyword and Description meta tags. Their focus is on better structure of the web page, content, and improved use of the robots.txt file.

Okay, so we learned that we don't need Meta Tags for the search engines to find us. And that since the early '90's the "bots" have been spidering the web, including pages into various collections. But we do know that a higher ranking in the search engines will improve our AdSense performance. In other words, more people visiting your site, the greater the probability they will click your AdSense ads and make you some money.

The fallacy is that souping your pages up with (stuffing) keywords will increase your search engine rank. Guess what? Nobody uses Inktomi.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Thanks for Subscribing!

Once again, a sincere thank you for subscribing to the feed of the blog here. Much appreciated. And thanks for the many comments! We are growing because you are recommending us to your friends and associates. From

Another Get Listed on Search Engines Tip

Perhaps one of the best tips I read, which totally makes sense, to get your site listed in Google and then the other search engines which use Google's database, is to first, get a Google Site Map created and posted for your site, and second, create an xml feed of your website.

You can do these two things under an hour, providing your site is not humongous.

First, let's tackle creating a Google Site Map. Well, why Google Site Map? Because Google totally supports it as a way to get your site included in their search engine. This isn't your typical site map; this is an xml site map created for Google's spider bots.

I've received e-mail from vendors touting Google Site Map software which they'll gladly charge you $29.95 to $147.00. But don't worry. You won't have to shell out a thing.

One of the wonderful things about search engines is that you can use them to save money. In this case, I looked for Google Site Maps and found the third listing is for a free generator. It's at Not only is this a cool tool, but it is fully configurable and fast. It works using a Java engine and spiders the site. You save the output, if you're happy with it (i.e. it didn't spider your stats index, etc.), and upload it to your site.

We're not done.

The next part requires that you have an account with Google. If you're reading about AdSense and Blogs, I assume you do - but if you don't - feel free to create one. Use your login to go to You'll be able to add your sitemap there.

Once your Google Site Map has been submitted, Google will send out it's bot and check out your site. A few days ago I posted about when Google visits your site. This is the same. Okay, so the lesson here is what? Well, get your site map installed ASAP - so you can benefit from correct page display in the Google search engine. If you're creating a new site, try getting the Google Site Map installed before you tinker with your AdSense. Once AdSense is up and has been accessed, Google starts coming to the site.

What's next? Yes, two tips today! The next thing you want to do, even if your site is not a Blog is to create an XML feed. Why? XML feeds means that people can link to your site by way of subscribing to the feed. Now the feed doesn't have to be a continuously updated feed. It can be a simple explanation of what you offer on the site and why it may benefit the reader. There are many pages on the web on how to create an XML feed, but my favorite is from CityDesk. But want to know what I do?

I simply take a current XML feed, say and edit it. It works! Don't forget to do two things: upload the edited version to your website, and create a link to your XML feed. A Visit to Aruba has a great example at the bottom of the page.

Cool! There you go! Get those two things done and you'll be that much closer to Google Nirvana, or search watch heaven - (don't worry, one does not exist).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Subscribing to a Blog

Just a quick note on how you can subscribe to blogs with the FireFox browser. It's quick and allows you to receive up to date info that gets placed in its own folder. One click and you're done. The tutorial to subscribe with FireFox is here.

That said, take a look at the number of subscriptions we've gained over the past few days. Remember, most blog subscriptions come by word of mouth or e-mail recommendations. From, here's the latest:

So, thanks to all of you who have found these tips helpful and have subscribed and especially - told your friends and acquaintances. My thanks!