Tweak AdSense Project: More Ads

courtesy MontanaRaven on Flickr
[Photo courtesy of MontanaRaven on Flickr]

My wife and I have a goal to reach. We’re working and scrimping and saving to be able to move to the Mediterranean for a year or so. One of my personal goals is to have a business set up and consistently earning a few thousand dollars per month before we leave. That means I have one year to go from making $60 per month to $2000 per month. If I hit $2000 per month with side businesses, I’ll be ecstatic. It doesn’t seem like much, but honestly, we don’t need much, and I like small incremental wins. If I can make $2k per month, I probably have found a system which is extensible and scalable. Those are my goals.

Why do I tell you this now? Because, my guess is you’ll be seeing some changes here on my blog in the next few months. I’ll still try to stay focused on community advocacy, leadership, and things like that, but I’m going to also use this blog as an archival history of my journey through testing and tweaking Google’s AdSense and other programs on other sites I run.

I’m truly a novice at the AdSense stuff, so if you’re interested in following someone else and sharing your tips and tricks too, I would love to have you join me in the journey.

So, if you’re a regular (non-rss) reader I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s some new ads. I had a hard time mentally making the commitment to do this. But in the end, I read a motivational post (unfortunately I didn’t bookmark it) which basically kicked me in the rear and said “Either commit all the way, or don’t do it at all”. So, I thought about what I would like my first small revenue increase would be and whether or not I should just commit to trying it out or not.

Since I’m going to use this space as a history, here’s what I’ve done to get where I am today ($60/mo in Adsense earnings).

  • Put AdSense on the 10 most popular pages on the site – By popular, I mean some gut instinct algorithm weighing highest traffic and most commented upon posts. I only monetized those ones because those were were people were coming in, reading, and leaving (or commenting and then leaving. They weren’t browsing the rest of the site. That was the first step.
  • Include plugins like Comment Relish and Subscribe To Comments – I love when people comment. I love the dialogue. So, to help with that, and hopefully increase repeat visits, I added those two plugins. Granted, the people who use these features aren’t generally the ones who click on the ads, but there is a side benefit – comments. Comments mean activity. Google likes activity on a post, so you get some Google love out of having people comment. Hey, I like the comments because they’re people, but I’m not going to stop Google from giving me a higher ranking because of that too.
  • Tweak meta data and h-tags – This one seems a little old-skool, but it truly works. Perfect Space, my search engine for rentals, was built with this in mind and has ranked in the top 5 for years, regardless of Google’s algorithm tweaking because of this simple method.
  • Release an image gallery WordPress plugin for free – This one surprised me. I was tired of all the complicated image galleries out there, so I bult one myself. When I released it, my traffic doubled, then tripled. Now it’s leveled out at around 700 unique visitors per day (50,000 – 80,000 page views per month).

That’s all good and dandy, and it’s gotten me $60/mo in Adsense revenue each month for quite a long time. But, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an increase, and with traveling in mind, I’ve decided to set my sights on making $120/mo for starters. That would mean I’d be making $4/day, which is tiny in comparison to some of these folks.

So, to do that, here’s what I’ve done so far, along with the results:

  • Added AdSense to every page (instead of just a select few pages) including link units at the top, a 486 banner after each post, and another near the comments section.
    • Results so far: not much has changed yet, but it’s only been a couple of days.
  • Use the competitive ad filter to filter out industry-known MFA (Made For Adsense) sites. It’s true that Google is theoretically not supposed to let MFA sites in, and I’m sure they do their best, but there are some that don’t raise the Google flags for some reason, so according to John Chow, we should filter them out. I’m not losing much by trying, so let’s give it a shot and see what happens. It seems like some people have had some luck doing this.
    • Results so far: well, I *just* did this one, so I don’t expect to see any difference for a couple of days, but I will report back on it.

Now, with all this being said, I’m also trying out a few other things, like selling my own t-shirts on the sidebar (see them over there?), which hasn’t made squat from my links yet, although I’m making a couple bucks thanks to GoodStorm featuring a few of them. I also have another site that I’m trying some affiliate stuff with, just for fun, along with a couple of my friends. We haven’t made anything off of it yet, but it’s more an outlet for our crazy humor with the added benefit of hopefully making money. So, we’ll see how that one goes.

So, here’s where you come in. If you’ve ever tried tweaking your adsense ads or things like it, I’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t for you. I’m kinda new to the “game” and I’m somewhat altruistic, but I still think there’s something to be said for tweaking. Plus, it gives me something to write about too. But, I need your help. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you did that helped substantially?

Thanks! And I hope to see you on the coast of the Mediterranean sipping margaritas some day.

[tags]adsense, google, affiliate, network, ad network, john chow, perfect space, monetize, blogging, tweak[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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