Yesterday I mentioned that Jeff Jarvis has made the decision to add Ads to his Blog (BuzzMachine). After posting this I emailed Jeff to let him know that I’d be happy to give a few free tips on how to get the most out of his Adsense ads. I’m yet to hear back from him (I know he’s a busy guy – so I’m not offended) but as I thought about what I’d suggest to him I thought it might make an interesting case study post here at ProBlogger as part of the 31 Days Project.
So consider this an open letter of advice for Jeff – but also for the many other bloggers who have similar blogs. Jeff uses a fairly standard WordPress template so what I share here might be useful for others too. Feel free to add your suggestions and tips to the comments section below.
The first thing I would recommend that Jeff does is go and have a look at the advice the Adsense team give publishers at their optimization page. Of particular usefulness is the heat map that they give that shows hot zones for the best positioning of ads (see diagram below).
If you compare this heat map (above) and Jeff’s page (left) you’ll notice immediately a couple of things.
1. Jeff’s BlogAds position is in a completely cold zone. White patches on the heat map are dead/cold patches. I was actually going to buy an ad space from his blog ads but when i saw the position I decided against it.
2. Jeff’s Adsense ads are in a pretty cool zone also (right hand sidebar). This is the position of them on every page in the blog. probably the only worse place for them would be below his footer and on the same sidebar but below the fold.
Another issue that I’d suggest Jeff take a look at is the visual barrier that he’s created by putting the ads column on a different color background to the rest of the blog. There is a line between his site proper and the ad section. While this might help to identify what is an ad and what isn’t an ad – it is a pretty basic no no if you want to get good results form your ads.
Not only is there a line between his content and ads, there is also a menu column on his main page which further separates his readers main attention and the ads.
Another observation that i make is that when you look at the source code on Jeff’s site – the Adsense code is the very very last piece of code that you see on the page. This means that the adsense code and the content (which adsense looks at when determining which ads to place on the site) are not in proximity to one another. This is one problem that many bloggers have and it can be one of the reasons that many bloggers get quite irrelevant advertisements served.
I would highly recommend that Jeff do one or all of the following things:
Move his ad column to the left hand side of the blog – This is probably the simplest tweak he could make. It would solve a couple of the problems mentioned above including putting the ads into hot zones and putting the Adsense code higher in the source code (and hopefully increasing ad relevancy).
New Positions – While just moving the ad to the left of screen would definitely help click through rates I’d suggest that other positions are worth experimenting with ads also. For starters could try the positioning on his son’s blog (see below) – a small banner at the top of content. This is a good position for a front page. These ads would do well if they were blended in (ie black text and blue title/links) in a similar way to how they are at Jake’s Blog (note – Jake is not only Jeff’s son but he’s Jeff’s blog designer – and does pretty nice work I have to say).
Another useful position on a front page is to position a rectangle ad two or three posts down the page (say between post 2 and 3) – as I do on my main page.
On individual pages I’d recommend jeff consider either placing an ad inside content like I do on many of my blogs (example). This is the hottest zone on the above heat map. In addition to this another option is to add a second ad at the bottom of his posts but before comments. Jeff gets a lot of comments on his blogs and as a result readers often get to the bottom of his posts and will see these ads (illustrated below). As with my other suggestions I’d encourage a blended ad approach here – black text, blue titles/links.
Add more ad units – at present Jeff has only one ad unit – I’d recommend that if income generation were a high priority that he consider adding at least one more unit, if not two. Of course he probably doesn’t want to dominate his page with ads (I’ve no problem with this) but I suspect adding a second unit on individual pages above the comments section would not clutter the page with ads too much.
Add Link Units - the beauty of Adsense’s link units is that they are small and pretty adaptable. Again Jeff’s son Jake has these on his blog – in one format that might work (at the top of a sidebar). Another option would be to place them along the top of Jeff’s blog or underneath his header (as I do here at Problogger at present). Adlinks work very well on some blogs and not on others – but it’s worth a try as they are pretty small and unobtrusive ads.
I’ll leave it at that for the moment – there is a lot more that can be said but these are the basics that I’d recommend to someone wanting my opinion.
I should say that I’ve written these tips not knowing what Jeff’s overall blog goals are. I suspect that while he’s interested in advertising revenue that it’s not the main motivation for his blog and that he will not want ads to dominate his pages. This is great and fits his blog well – however I believe that he could make a few of these tweaks, still keep a clean and classy design for his blog and not interrupt the flow while still earning a few dollars on the side.
As I’ve written above – I’d love to hear what suggestions you’d make to Jeff in comments below.