Monday, March 27, 2006

"AdSense Websites" - Do They Work?

Google's "AdSense" contextual advertising system enables owners of content-rich websites to generate income from their websites. I've had AdSense on my "Marketing Magic" and "City Of York" websites since July 2003 and it's been highly profitable for me.

But you will have noticed in recent months a huge push to sell various systems which generate content-rich websites very quickly with the sole purpose of bringing in cash from AdSense ads. I've tested about eight such systems in the past few months. Some work well - as far as building the sites is concerned. Some were terrible!

However, I have reservations about the whole concept of building large numbers of such sites:

  • Duplicate content: If you just upload these sites "as is", your sites will be identical to hundreds, maybe thousands of other sites. And the search engines are weeding out such duplicates. I'm not talking about the content of the articles - the search engines are fine with the same article appearing on many different sites. But if the same article collections appear in the same order, then those are duplicate sites.
  • Competition: If you target content niches which are known to having high-paying AdSense advertisers you'll face huge competition from other sites. This means that it will be more difficult to be found on the search engines (even when your site is in the indexes). Consequently, the number of visitors to your site - and your AdSense income - will be low.
  • Time: Generating websites from these systems doesn't take long - except that you'll need to tweak many of them. But, as I showed in my marketing experiment, generating traffic to a website can be time consuming. One guy selling one of these systems said "It doesn't matter if you only make a dollar per day from each site - set up a hundred sites!". Oh yes, and how long will you have to spend driving traffic to each site just to make a dollar a day?

OK, here's my conclusions - and remember, they are only personal opinions.

Maybe, just maybe, some people are making the multiple-site systems work.. for the time being. But they are probably spending a lot of time on them - and using techniques that most people would struggle with - interlinking sites, blogs, RSS and maybe "AdSense arbitrage" ("Google" it if you don't know what it means!).

I don't think that it's a method for "newbies", despite the attraction of having large numbers of "ready-to-go" websites.

Then there's the grey area of ethics. I personally don't feel comfortable having a website which deals with a topic that I don't understand or have any enthusiasm for. That's the reason why I put a month of work into developing a content-rich, customisable website for owners of my Newbies Starter Kit around a topic which most people have some understanding of and feeling for - "self improvement".

I have five websites aimed at generating AdSense income - apart from my two main sites that I mentioned earlier. But they all deal with topics which I have some understanding of - and enthusiasm for. And that's the way I'm going to continue. It's a personal decision.

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Neat Webmaster Trick For You

You've probably seen it before - you mouse-over a link on a web page, and up pops a coloured box with some information. No, I'm not talking about the standard pale yellow box. That's achieved by adding the 'title' attribute to a link.

No, these little fellers are coloured usually to match the website. Just have a look at the demo page I've put up here.

As I said on that page, there's some very fancy scripting stuff going on behid the scenes. Fortunately, there's a handy f'ree online service that does all the grunt work for you. Just fill in the form with your desired colours and fonts, and it generates all the code for you to copy and paste into your web page.

This was something completely new to me. I've often wondered how it was done!

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

IMP x CTR x EPC = $

Catchy headline, eh! What does it mean? What's it all about?

Last one first. I'm talking about Google AdSense. This program displays "contextual" adverts that you can insert on any content-rich website (i.e. an info site rather than a selling site). The ads which are displayed are supposed to be related (it isn't 100% accurate) to the content of the page. If / when it works, the chances of a website visitor clicking through to the ad are much better than a blatent banner ad.

Banner ads aren't really effective. The "468 x 60" format is tired. We all suffer from "banner blindness"; we ignore them. The Click Through Rate ("CTR" - remember this acronym) is usually less than 1 per cent. A lot less. Because they are indiscriminate. Usually, they don't relate to the content of the page. So, apart from "banner blindness", our visitors have no reason to be interested in the ad.

Let's face it, if you bought a magazine devoted to "ice skating", would you be interested in the slightest in adverts for "baby care" products? I don't think so!

"Contextual ads", where the content of the ads is related to the content of the web page, is far more powerful. And that's what the Google AdSense system does. It allows any webmaster (or webmistress) with a content-filled website to use its contextual ads on their pages.
You might have noticed lately a spate of new products aimed at building a mass of content-filled websites very quickly. The reason? To generate income from AdSense. OK, back to that mysterious formula:

IMP x CTR x EPC = $

Just how successful you'll be in generating income from your AdSense websites depends on these three factors:

IMP = Page Impressions
That's the number of times that your pages are viewed. So, the more visitors you drive to your site, the higher your AdSense income is likely to be. This is one of the factors which is under your control.

CTR = Click Through Rate
That's the percentage of visitors who click on the AdSense ads. That's a crucial factor in increasing your AdSense income. Again, it's something over which you have some measure of control.

EPC = Earnings Per Click
That's really dependent on the subject matter of your web pages and how many advertisers are competing with each other. Your EPC is likely to be lower on a page about, say, philosophy, than on a page about marketing.

I decided to write about this topic today because a year ago I made a small but very significant change to my AdSense ads. I've charted the impact it made on this web page. Powerful stuff, eh?

The turning point was a report that I bought - "AdSense Secrets" by Joel Comm. I've read a lot of reports about AdSense but Joel really lives up to his reputation as "Mr AdSense". He lives and breathes it! What impresses me even more is that Joel updates his report regularly, and he's just issued version 3.

If you use, or are planning to use, AdSense on your website, you really ought to get Joel's report. But if you do, not only must you read it, but you should act on it. You've seen the difference that just one of Joel's tips made to my income.

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Ian's Marketing Experiments": Month Two

Mid-January, I posted an account of three very hectic days I spent building and launching a new website about a niche topic: "Learning Yoga". I had such great feedback about this diary that I decided to continue with it.

Over the last six weeks, I've kept a detailed diary on what I did to get the site indexed in the search engines, get in-bound links to the site from other websites and generally tidy up the site. I describe:

  • My feelings of both frustration and elation when I encountered failure and success.
  • What I did to get a Google Page Rank of "2" in less than 6 weeks
  • How I detected a copyright cheat
  • Why I rejected a lot of offers to link to my new website
  • What my plans are for future work on the site

Read my Marketing Experiments Diary here:

And please - give me more feedback using the form on the Diary page. By the way, if you missed the January Diary, there's a link to it on the current Diary page.

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)