Friday, April 13, 2012

Interest-based Ads Preference

If you've done any work with AdSense then you'll know that there are so many parameters that you can adjust if you're not tracking what you're doing you're shooting in the dark and IF you do hit a target, you'll not know how you got there. Make sense?

Still, there's not much help out there and a lot of hit or miss. And remember, what works for someone with a website on home schooling, might not work for your fancy website about world travel. You MUST experiment and track.
So let's move over to AdSense now and go to the Interest-based Ads Preference page. Here's the URL:

Google explains their algorithm in basic terms by saying that the user will bring with them certain predetermined parameters and this will change what AdSense ads display on your website.

Google actually claims that this can be a benefit to you because the user will have ads they like and you will most likely have an increase in your AdSense revenue.

This is exactly why when you have visited a site about sports cars and then go to a site about cats, you can still see sports car ads displaying on the cats site.

Yes, it may be something the user is interested in, but how can we really know if they want to see a sports car ad on the cat site?

I am running an experiment with my site Three Best Beaches and I'll be posting the results right here. Today, I've changed the settings to blocked. I'm not sure how long it takes to change. Most changes I've seen in AdSense happen in 30 minutes or less.

OK, other changes today on TBB include changing my main ad block from the medium rectangle 300 x 250 (as requested by the Google AdSense team when I attended the AdSense in Your City event last month in Orlando) to the large rectangle 336 x 280.

Immediately I noticed on my website that the inventory for image based ads is much lower (at least in my category = travel) than in the 300 x 250 format - seemed to be serving up almost 1/2 image based and sometimes totally image based (like a resort running a hot special or something.) For me - I dunno - I have just had more success with text only ads. More for the user to choose from (because image ads take up the whole ad while text based are three or four ads to the block - see example.)

And the colors were changed, too. I had a hit a few days ago, but crazy me, it was late night when I changed it and I didn't log it. I am thinking that the colors were more in line with my Thesis website links on Three Best Beaches, but you know, sometimes you need a little contrast to stand out.

I don't know about you, but my CTR has fallen dramatically in the last year. I really think this is from this website getting dumped from the high position it held in the SERPs since 2005 and I am working really hard on getting it back up there.

OK, so we've changed the Interest based option (and already I see that it is working - try it yourself) and the block change. Oh, and let me say that I was running the recommended (by Google) three ad blocks on each page using Whydowork AdSense (Google this Wordpress plugin for AdSense placement) to ONE. From my experience AND from talking with the AdSense team, the fewer ads blocks means the ONE block you run with have the most expensive and highest competing ads. Experiment on your own. You will see this is true. The challenge is getting the right block/colors/size/etc. And...depending on your layout, you can get more money from the ads running more blocks. It's not for everyone.

One more change I want to make and am debating this one - is to move the link block (200 x 90) running in the left hand column to within the content at the top right.

Take a look. Here we have the link block running in the left hand column. It's right below a search box - also monetized with Google AdSense - and above the main navigation for the site. 

Using free website software (, I can track where people are clicking over a given time my case, 2 and a half days. This isn't really a lot (5000 visits), but enough to give me a good idea where people are navigating the site.

I can see that through 5000 visits, not that many are clicking the left hand link block. I don't know about the right hand one - because I haven't set it up on a page that I am tracking. But I am going to implement it and will also share the result.
One thing that was interesting to me was that people were clicking a lot - I suppose they like it - on the Most Popular Beach links in the left hand column. This is done by using a plug in for Wordpress called Top 10.

And lastly, regarding clicks - I see that people are clicking more on pictures of people with bathing suits on, especially women. Sex sells, I suppose. Guys are looking for more pictures. Curiosity.

I'll update as soon as I have more info and will update this post so you can go from here to the new page - if you've landed here from another site or the search engines. Thanks a bunch!