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Blog Design and Ad Conversion

Peter’s posted an interesting post over at The Blog Studio on blog design and Ad CTR. Peter’s done a few blog designs lately and has found that in designing blogs to incorporate ads that the blogs have seen significant boosts in conversion.

‘What neither client expected though was that their click-through percentage jumped – dramatically. Not only were more people coming to their sites, but more (many more) were clicking on their ads. We’re talking about significant, sustained double digit growth. One client recouped the cost of his redesign investment in a single week.’

This sounds a little like Peter’s selling himself here (and I’m sure to some extent he is) but I know of one of the bloggers that Peter is referring to and they’ve also told me about their increased conversion since the redesign also.

In chatting with Peter this afternoon via Skype about what he’s found I’m fascinated and pleased by his.

I’m fascinated (or maybe it’s a bit of surprise) because one of the things that often comes up when I talk with bloggers is that it’s often their ugliest blogs that have the best CTR. Slapping ads front and centre on a blog without much thought to design can certainly get them attention and as a result clicks – but at what expense?

I’m also pleased by what Peter’s found because 2006 is a year where I’m going to be working on new designs for my blog. I’ve already penciled in some time with Peter himself to get some work done with him on one of my blogs and am eager to find out what impact it will have, not only on ad performance but more importantly to me reader loyalty.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. row1 says:

    Your site redesign will be interesting.
    When you talk about reader loyalty are you talking about making the site more friendly to frequent visitors by reducing the amount of ads, or keeping the same amount of ads but blending them in more?

  2. IO ERROR says:

    A “before” and “after” that we could actually look at would be a great thing.

  3. Ray says:

    I have re-themed my 6 month old blog about 3 times. It has not made significant changes in CTR. However I think it’s because I have not found the right combination of design and ad placement. I plan to do one more change in design for 2006, but it will be done much more methodically and with some specific goals in mind.

    Good luck with yours.

  4. Todd Brill says:

    I read a pdf e-book article that was published some time ago specific to Google AdSense. In it, the author talks about AdSense layout, “tricks” to get people to click on the ads (it looks like Darren is already doing some of these things…) and some general information on how AdSense works. I’ve incorporated what I learned into my site but I haven’t seen the kind of CTR that I’d like. Is this potentially a future course offering Darren?

  5. Thanks for posting this Darren. I’m most definitely selling myself, but only because I’ve seen the effect first hand.

    If I’ve learned anything from working with probloggers it’s this: they have more than one site! If I help them make more money with one site, I’m probably going to get their business for their others. So it doesn’t do me any good to sell it if it’s just snake oil. I’m in it for the long haul.

  6. Darren Rowse says:

    Todd we do a whole week and a bit on Adsense in the sixfigureblogging.com course

  7. Andy Merrett says:

    No, Yruly,I will be comment number 7, thank you… (that’ll make no sense when Darren deletes the spam…)

    I found my earnings went up on two blogs that I redesigned into quite a common design, so I’m happy about that. I do believe it helps to specifically design in your ads rather than just sticking them anywhere – that’s what seems to work for me anyway.

  8. Dave says:

    I thinks its wise to take the time to redesign your site to incorporate adsense and/or other advertising if you have not done so before, and you currently have ads that are placed randomly.

    I originally just added adsense ads in convenient (for me) locations, but ctr was appalling.

    A thoughtout redesign, ensuring that layout was written with specific adsense ad sizes in mind, at logical places on the site, meant that CTR increased and the layout doesn’t look overly random, with adverts sitting in uneconomical spaces.

    If you use a piece of paper to sketch out your design, its easy to see how to fit in your particular choice of ad size in key locations on the site. I’ve always turned to pencil before marking up any code as it saves time and stops you having to move things around halfway through a redesign.

    A blended in advert that sits well on a page will, imho, return a higher CTR than an advert placed randomly. The trick is, in effect, to not trick the user into clicking on a advert by mistake, whilst blending the advert to not stand too much. Its a fine line and can end with dissatisified visitors if you are not careful.

  9. Andy Merrett says:

    What I’ve done with blog designs is to drag the exact Google (and other publisher) ad sizes I want to use into Photoshop, along with the sizes of other elements like header, sidebar etc. – it’s then easy to drag these boxes around as layers until I get a look that I like – I then just code up the CSS and template from that design, and it’s pixel-perfect.

  10. Digger says:

    I’ll sum up Peters post in 25 words for those who didn’t read it.

    “If you redesign your site and incorporate ads nicely you can see your clickthrough rate increase. I can do this for you… for a fee”.

    With no examples — or any real advice — Peter’s post was absolutely worthless. I know he may be protecting his interests by not showing them, but why even post about it at all then?

  11. Darren Rowse says:

    he didn’t mention the sites largely because the bloggers in question didn’t want their details mentioned publically I suspect.

    I think Peter admits above that it’s him selling himself – but why wouldn’t he if he’s designed blogs in ways that help people make their money back from the design work in a short time.

    I find it interesting because, as I mentioned, there are theories going around some discussion forums that ugly is good – this is a little glimmer of hope that beautiful can be good for CTR too.

  12. Rich Miller says:

    I love your blog because you willingly share many tips and “secrets” that have helped you succeed. This post is an exception. What’s the use of touting magic redesigns that improve click-through, when the designer making the claim won’t share examples or any useful information about how this is being accomplished?

    The goal of Flaschner’s post, it seems to me, was to prompt other probloggers to call him and contract for magic redesigns of their own. It sounds as though you’ve done so … which is fine.

    But the post kinda winds up being about pro blogging insiders sharing their knowledge with one another, with readers left wondering about the details of all the magic.

  13. Digger – the site owners in question are both in very competitive niches, and may be hesitant to publicly give up any advantage they may have over their competitors. I was told about their click through increases in confidence, and am not comfortable spilling the beans for them.

    That being said, I do think I offer some advice in my post. If you go back and re-read the 3 points listed under “How did this happen?”, you’ll find the core of what I believe made such an impact for the CTR.

  14. Digger says:

    I totally understand where you’re coming from Peter. Your 3 hints though are very basic knowledge that has been covered numerous times here and I was a little flummoxed on why Darren would link to a post that reveals absolutely nothing new without examples. It really did seem like he was simply pimping your skills because of the lack of new information.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with him putting in a good word for you, but the way it was written made it sound like some little new nugget of information would be disclosed or shown in a meaningful manner.

    I believe that’s why there’s a few negative comments on this entry. We clicked through, spent time reading it and ended up saying “WTF? There’s nothing here but self promotion and a few vague ‘hints’ that are already known.”

  15. dkessaris says:

    I really believe that design plays a major role on CTR rates. I discovered that when I changed the design of one of my blogs and the CTR numbers doubled.

  16. Dave says:

    I can understand the ugly design concept – I’ve seen three sites this morning that I would class as being ugly, with a huge number of adverts dotted all over the place with little logic or reason, other than to try and trick the user into clicking on them.

    I personally don’t want to go to a website and the only thing visible above the fold is a huge advert right in the middle of the page. Google may say that this is the most effective location, I’d say that logically its a high % error click through than genuine click through.

    I’m all for people making money, but when it comes at the expense of usable and asthetically pleasing website, I’d say priorities have become mangled.