I'm back in New Zealand and it's back to work. I've got lots of stuff to catch up with, particularly since my laptop packed a sad. I've spent today doing a few site critiques for Affilorama members, and I came across something that I thought I might share here.
I was looking at one particular site which was pretty much aimed at earning money from Adsense. An important consideration with Adsense (and other context ads) is positioning your ad blocks in a place where they're likely to be clicked. There's no point creating an Adsense site if you stick your ads where your readers won't notice them. Ok? That point is pretty much a given.
(Note: there are different kinds of "notice". There's "OH MY GOD, IT'S AN AD, GET ME AWAY FAST!" type notice and "Gosh, that looks like an interesting resource that I may wish to peruse. Let's click that." In Affilorama I show members how to make their ads into the second type.)
Most of the Affilorama member sites I see have grasped this first point already, so this isn't what I'm here to talk about.
Once you've got your ads set out and looking enticing, you need to be aware of which ads are going in your best spots. Of course there will be blocks of ads on your page that, just because of their position, will attract more clicks. It makes sense that you'd want the highest paying ads to go in this position so that you get the most revenue from the clicks.
I noticed on one Affilorama member's page that they had a good block of ads in the middle of the page (Ads 1 in the diagram below) In my opinion, this is the block of ads that would attract the most clicks, since they're "above the fold" (ie: in the top half of the screen) and because your readers' eyes naturally drift from top left to bottom right.
Unfortunately for this site, the structure of the HTML is causing the Adsense script to scan the left navigation column first. This affiliate had a second block of Adsense down the bottom of the navigation column (Ads 2 in the diagram), and because this was the first block of Adsense that appears to the script, this block displays the highest paying ads. If it's true that the ads in the Ads 1 block attract more clicks, this affiliate could be missing out on a significant amount of money.
Basically this problem is because most websites are still laid out in tables. Tables are comprised of rows and cells, just like tables you make in Word or a spreadsheet. Most websites will have one big row housing two giant cells as their basic containers. The left cell will often be the navigation (and might also house ad blocks) and the main body of the website goes in the second cell. Like us, the scripts read left to right. So it reads everything in the first cell first (right down to the very bottom) and ONLY THEN moves onto the second cell.
So it doesn't matter that the block of ads in the first column might be twenty screen-lengths down the page -- to the context ad scripts this is the first block of ads since it's the first one they see. It also doesn't matter that your other block is way up the top of the page and in the most obvious position to a human viewer -- the script will read it last and put your low-paying ads there.
In very basic HTML it looks like this:
<TD> First column </TD>
<TD> Second column </TD>
If you've got a third block down the bottom of the page this can confuse things even further! On one Affilorama member's site I found that the block of ads at the footer of their page was getting the second highest paying block of ads, while their "prime real-estate" block of ads was getting the dregs -- the lowest paying ads. Just imagine how much better it would be with the highest paying ads in the best spot!
So try juggling things around a bit. This isn't exactly revolutionary or tricky for anyone with a modest understanding of HTML, but I'll take it slowly.
Here's the new HTML skeleton:
<TD> Either leave this blank, or put in something incidental. Just don't put any adsense in here! </TD>
<TD ROWSPAN="2">This is where I put my article and first block of adsense.</TD>
<TD>And here is where your second block of adsense goes, and probably your navigation</TD>
The most important part in all of that is the part. What you're saying there is that you want your second cell on the first row to span two rows down. Then you go down to the next row (which will be read after the first row) and put in another TD. Since you've already got the TD with the "rowspan="2"" flowing down into the second cell position, you don't need a second TD in that row. So you just close the row and end the table. Hah, HTML is always so hard to explain in words. How about some diagrams:
Now the highest paying Adsense ads are now being displayed in my "prime real-estate" position in amongst the article.
Of course, as with anything it's important that you split-test things. Send half your traffic to the old page and half to the new page and see which gives the best results. And similarly, experiment with putting your ads in different positions. What works for one site might not work for another site -- there are too many factors to consider to make any real hard and fast rules.
Right! Now I'm off to play more catch-up! Affilorama members who have asked for site critiques: They're coming!
Have a great weekend everyone!