Over the past 5 years I have steadily increased my Adsense RPM and I learnt a lot about what it takes to master Google Adsense and really start making money online. In this guide I am taking a look at advanced ways to increase your RPM (revenue per thousand impressions).
The 10 advanced techniques to reach 6-figure Adsense income:
|Re-Structuring / Simplification Of Navigation||8||Shortterm|
|Synchronous Loading (In Header)||10||Shortterm|
|Layout / Position||8||Shortterm|
|Patience / Run Tests Over Days, Not Hours||9||Longterm|
|Diversification And DFP For Competing Ads||8||Longterm|
Tip #1: Placements And Tracking Revenue Per Section
The most obvious strategy is to attract direct bidders by using placements. I tried using placements several times during the past 5 years without much success. Some sites are simply not attractive for direct bidding, but I overlooked one fact: Using Adsense for your ‘big picture’ strategy.
As a site owner you may already know which of your site sections will perform best. E.g. if you have a car site, car-tuning guides might be performing better than your car news. Quite naturally, news are often only part of your overall strategy to keep the audience and search engines engaged and a way to increase your bottom-line, while the real money is coming in from other sections. You already know that, BUT using placements in combination with custom channels will allow you to track the revenue per section EXACTLY. I overlooked this for the longest time, so I advise you to do the same and simply use placements and channels not for advertisers but for yourself, so you know at all times what sections perform well on any given day.
While this strategy did not increase my revenue immediately and is more important for your overall strategy, the following did increase my Adsense revenue over night.
Tip #2: Re-Structuring / Sticky Navigation
As a site owner you will be so used to your site navigation that you don’t see any flaws. But look again. There’s a good chance you can simplify it by reducing it to 7 or 8 items. Anything above that will reduce your revenues due to a decline in pageviews.
The more options you give the user, the less likely he will find what he is looking for, the bigger the chance he will leave immediately and increase your bounce rate.
It’s also important to use sticky, responsible menus these days. I always argued that I don’t have any mobile visitors, so I don’t have optimize my sites for it. Well, I was wrong. When you’re optimizing a site for mobile, you will ultimately end up simplifying your site and your site navigation. This in turn will help to increase pageviews, which will increase your ad page impressions, which will increase your Adsense revenues overnight.
A recent re-design helped me generate up to 20%-30% more pageviews per hour in a matter of days. Most bloggers rarely consider a re-design because they are afraid of breaking something, but the biggest risks these days really is not breaking anything.
Another hurdle is that a re-design is always a major undertaking. Recently I spent 7 days, working nearly 12 hours per days straight to finish a complete overhaul of a large site I run with nearly 10,000 articles and still messed some things up. The important thing is to keep a close eye on pageviews. If they increase, you are doing a good job, if they go down you should switch back and tweak some more before launching it.
Plugins like Theme Test Drive allow you to test drive themes for logged-in users only. Use that to your advantage. If you have enabled Adsense ads for members, you can use that to split-test your themes and check for a considerable drop or increase in RPM. This is only possible if you have sufficient members.
Ideas: If you do not have sufficient views to split-test members vs anonymous traffic, hire a programmer at odesk and get him to tweak the Test Drive plugin to randomly show one out of two themes to anonymous users. Yet another idea is using a caching plugin like W3TC: Preload your entire site and delete half of the cached files. There are lots of ways to split-test designs, just keep exploring ideas to find a strategy that suits your site and is efficient.
Tip #3: Use Synchronous Loading
Update 2015: Responsive ad units are now a must. These units are asynchronous but perform better than the previous asynchronous ad units. It is no longer recommended to use non-responsive synchronous units.
The most important tip for advanced users that I frequently give others is to not neglect the technical side. As a blogger/writer you may lack some technical skills, so I will make it as simple as possible for you, but you may have to dig a little deeper into this if it goes above your head. Continue reading, even if you don’t understand all of it, it will be worth your time and can help you to increase your Adsense revenue significantly.
1. Requests that run synchronously (at the same time) when a page loads will enhance click rates. You should avoid asynchronous calls or using bloated ad servers that delay the ad serving request. You can read a little about the negative sides of asynchronous requests here.
3. Start testing. Add additional ads or slow down your site on purpose to see what effects it has on your revenues. Does your revenue decline or decrease when you turn off KeepAlive? Test, test, test all sorts of settings, including Apache tweaks, WordPress settings, number of ads and so on that could delay the loading speed of your ads. From my experience it can even be beneficial to add 1-2 more ad units. Users may wait until the page is fully loaded and will see your ads more often, increasing your Adsense unit impressions.
Tip #4: It’s All In The Details: Split-Testing Colors
Ok, as an advanced user you already know about split-testing and Google Adsense ad experiments. If you don’t, this is really something you need to re-read. Split-testing is critical, but Google makes this tremendously easy these days.
1. Log into Adsense
2. Click on My Ads
3. On the left, select Experiments (BETA)
4. Scroll down to Ad unit experiments
5. Click the Create button
6. Enter a unique identifier that you can easily recognize and remember. Also enter notes, e.g. what your are split-testing: Colors, headline, fonts, font-size.
7. Finally, choose the Original ad unit and modify the variation. Swap blue links with red links, swap the font family or font size.
Tip #5: Optimizing For Traffic And Revenue Simultaneously
A complete re-design is one one of the most efficient ways to increase traffic and revenue simultaneously, but also the most costly, so testing smaller elements like position of your sidebar can be beneficial. Test the following scenarios:
- Position Of Your Sidebar: Left, Right
- Position Of Your Logo: Move from header to sidebar
- Amount of text above of the fold
- Changing the position of frequently used site elements
Optimizing a page for high traffic and high revenues at the same time is a balancing act and only because you have a fancy design doesn’t mean your traffic will improve. If either traffic or revenue declines too much you have to dismiss your test and start again and that’s why we established bloggers have such a hard time with re-designs. The trick is to keep tweaking it and incorporating ALL elements you know will improve pageviews and ultimately your Adsense revenues.
If you fail to incorporate just a single element of your old design (e.g. a next/previous link) that was performing very well and helped you to increase pageviews then you may end up lowering your pageviews per user. Never put only 50% effort into a re-design. A re-design for an existing userbase has to be well-planned. It does not have to be flawless, but it should improve pageviews immediately (a few percentage points at least) or you are doing something wrong.
Tip #6: Technical Factors To Consider To Increase Adsense Revenue
It is not sufficient to create a beautiful design and slap it on your site like many beginners do. Once you have a site with traffic you need to keep an eye on pageviews and that’s when things become complicated. Create a checklist like this and start working on it. You don’t have to complete all items in one day, take your time with it and do it properly.
- Combine CSS and JS Files
- Use Own CDN’s For CSS
- Load Jquery From Google CDN’s
- Make Sure To Use Parallel Downloads To Your Advantage (Add Multiple CDN URL’s)
- Consider Using DNS-Prefetch
- Don’t Get Cheap On Hosting
- Don’t Forget Important Items Like Favicons
- Consider Using LightHTTPD or NGINX
- Consider Re-Compiling Apache With Fewer Modules
- Consider Deactivating Various Plugins And Modules That Can Slow Down Your Site
- Use The WP Debug Bar On WordPress Sites
- Make Your Websites W3 Valid
- Improve / Simplify Your Code
- Use MySQL-Tuner.pl or similar tools
- Be on the cutting edge of web development (read industry sites)
IMPORTANT: After each test make sure to compare hourly results via Google Analytics. Failing to do so can result in lost traffic and a steady decline in users and revenues. Don’t be afraid of undoing things if they don’t work out, but give it ample room to ‘play out’ over a few days so you can accurately compare data. The more visitors you have, the more reliable are your daily statistics. The fewer visitors per day (5000 and below) the less accurate your results and the longer you should keep your tests alive!
If you do not have the skills, go to a decent webhost such as Singlehop and ask the tech support to do it for you. Usually for very little money you can get your servers optimized to handle your traffic more efficiently. Personally, I like tweaking settings myself and it’s no rocket science really, but requires you to buy a few books about Apache and read a few online resources, which may consume more time than you’re willing to invest.
Tip #7: Increasing Pageviews Per User
The most advanced and reliable technique to increase your Adsense revenues is the following: Increasing your pageviews/user.
So, how would you go about it? How do you really engage people?
I have recently written an article about how I grew a site to 50,000 UVD. In this article, I am also talking a little about tabloids, which you may find enlightening.
In short: Make people click through your content. Use plugins for inline popups that show additional posts on your site and make sure to show large, very visible thumbnails, preferably with some faces whenever appropriate.
Tip #8: Topic Choice
One of the most important things to consider when you are trying to increase your Adsense revenues is your topic choice. I already mentioned above how you should use placements not only to attract advertisers but also to enhance your long-term strategy. Some topics will drive a lot of traffic, but have a very poor CPC.
Example: The gaming and MMO niche only pays pennies, but car insurance or health products are really expensive topics for advertisers due to a higher ROI and tough competition. Advertisers will easily spend $0,4 per click on your ads if you write an article about auto insurance and compare various brands. Quite naturally luxury products and products we don’t consume every day will drive a lot less traffic, but if you find a niche that you can dominate and rank high for a certain topic then it may be well worth your efforts.
In order to avoid wasting your time, make sure to analyze your existing incoming search traffic for ‘golden nuggets’ you can cash in on. My primary strategy to make money these days is analyzing what people are actually searching for. Work on your websites for a few years and you will be able to do the same, which leads me to point 9.
Tip #9: Patience, Run Adsense Tests For A Few Days At A Time
Testing takes time. You will have to sacrifice some short-term revenues in order to increase your long-term revenues. Especially when you’re just starting out, you should spend a lot of time on testing. Later on, it gets really expensive and you should know what you’re doing by then.
Also, keep in mind some days will have a higher or lower CPC and that can have a dramatic effect on your tests. This is especially true if you have revenues that are lower than $50 per day. A low revenue site will never have stable revenues and have a lot of volatility, quite naturally. Only if you manage to stabilize your traffic you can expect stable revenues. That’s why it’s important to run any of the tests I mentioned in this article over a course of several days and not just hours. Compare daily statistics using Google Analytics.
Tip #10: Never Giving Up, Diversification (CPM) And DFP
Although Adsense is the best paying ad program, there may be lucrative ad networks that can create additional revenues for you on top of your existing Adsense revenues.
My suggestion is to take a good look at high-paying CPM networks.
By diversifying your ad revenues and adding ad units that pay per impressions rather than click you can increase your bottom line and make sure to not go out of business should Google’s industry-wide CPC suffer a temporary setback. Adsense is a long-term play, ignore the noise and together with a decent SEO and content deployment strategy you will keep your business striving for a long time to come. Although you may be able to cash in on some hot trends, you should make sure to steadily grow your core audience and organic traffic – never rely on traffic that can disappear over night.
You should consider using Google’s DFP ad manager to let other ad networks compete with Adsense. That way you can also have more than the allowed 3 Adsense units on any given page, which can also increase your overall revenues. Although 4 ad units on a page don’t necessarily increase your revenues, it’s worth a try.
Keep testing, keep increasing your revenues and most importantly keep rocking fellow webmasters!