How effective is your blog ad placement?
You know the drill when it comes to real estate; the value of the property is determined by only three things – location, location, and location. When it comes to blog ad placement on your web site, the same holds true. Now that you know how to get the AdSense code for your site, you have to give careful consideration to how you place the ads to make them most effective – and most profitable.
The best neighborhoods
At one time, Google did a study of the best locations for ads on websites. They put the result of that study in a heatmap, an infographic that shows the best locations in darker colors and those less likely to attract visitors' eyes in lighter colors.
You may look at Google's heatmap in amazement, as there seems to be very little room for the actual site content. Keep in mind that Google distributed the heatmap in 2011, and has since made it much more important for webmasters to provide adequate room for content – or suffer the consequences!
What's more, they've made it abundantly clear that there must be a reasonable amount of content “Above the Fold” (ATF). Early in 2012, Google launched their “Page Layout Algorithm”. They began enforcing the fact that content must be immediately visible, without your visitor having to scroll. But different visitors have different sized browsers, so how are webmasters to comply with this new rule?
An “Above the Fold” tool
You can make use of an “Above the Fold” tool to view your site as your visitor views it. Simply insert your URL in the tool's test field, and the site will appear behind a transparent colored panel (click the picture to enlarge). Look for percentages on the colored panel – they represent how common browser sizes are. You can pick a size that you want to evaluate and increase or reduce the size of your browser to match. This will show you what your visitor will see in their device – hopefully you have a responsive theme!
The “Page Layout Algorithm” was Google's first step to encourage webmasters to open up the tiny content area shown in their heatmap. The question remains however, how much content above the fold is enough? Further, exactly what is “content”? Are sites with large header images to be punished? Does the area occupied by navigation fit Google's definition of content? Google isn't saying. All they have indicated is that they consider sites which have the top of the page full of ads as undesirable. Google intends to deliver a good experience to surfers, and surfers don't want to scroll down to get to the content.
Google has other rules as well
Be sure to read Google's other rules as they relate to ad placement on your site. Some rules are absolute – for example, you cannot have more than three AdSense for content units on any one page. You're also limited to a maximum of three link units on a page, and no more than two search boxes per page. These rules (and many others) are all spelled out at Google's page for ad placement policies. There are some who swear by Google AdSense, which makes up most of their online income. Others swear at Google for banning their AdSense account for no apparent reason. Make no mistake, the good folks at Google have very little sense of humor when it comes to perceived policy infractions. If they smell a whiff of deceit, they will ban your account – and they'll never look back. Be careful to mind their policies and stay on top of your blog ad placement. Having your account banned could ruin your whole day! It is difficult to contact anyone at Google unless your revenue is more than $25 per week – and even then your contact is limited to email only.
Google is widely considered the most lucrative of the advertising networks, and is therefore the most sought after account for those who put advertising on their web site. There are alternatives, however. For example, Bing and Yahoo have joined forces to offer a single advertising network for most customers. The bad news, from those who use the network, is that they don't see quite as much revenue as when they use Google AdSense on their site. The good news is that they are much more communicative when it comes to customer service.
… or you can “roll your own” advertising network
You can use an advertising plugin such as OIO Publisher. This allows you to rent ad space directly to interested parties, whether to Google, Bing / Yahoo, or some other advertiser – or a mix of all of them! Running your own advertising network can offer several benefits:
- You no longer have to settle for a cut of the advertising revenue, as you do with Google AdSense, with the Bing / Yahoo network, or with other advertising network.
- You aren't at the mercy of unyielding policies, always concerned that your advertising account may be banned.
- You have some control over your advertising revenue, as you can sign an advertising contract with one or more companies – contracts which may last for several months.
- You have more of a say in the nature of the advertising being placed on your site. If you use one of the large advertising networks such as Google or Bing / Yahoo, you'll discover that from time to time ads will appear which you may consider inappropriate, such as ads for a dating service on a home improvement site. The networks give you some control over these ads, but it is far from complete control.
The downside, of course, is the learning curve to become comfortable keeping track of all the moving pieces. You're on your own.
There you have it, a brief overview of how to address blog ad placement on your site. My review is far from complete, however – that would involve a much longer article.
Read more about setting up your own online business.
Do you have a question or comment about blog ad placement? Spell it out in the comment box below and let it fly!