Pay per click advertising programs like AdSense, YPN and Chitika do rely heavily upon the positioning and design of their ads when it comes to performance – but another crucial aspect of them is ad relevancy. The principle is simple really – readers come to your blog in search of content on a particular topic – if they see an ad that relates to that topic they are more likely to both notice it and respond to it.
Irrelevant ads will almost always convert poorly so in the same way that publisher work on the design and positioning of ads they should also consider making sure ads are as relevant to the content they are positioned near as possible.
Each ad system will have different methods of getting ads more relevant. With a system like Chitika it takes some work and you need to choose keywords carefully (read a little more on how I recommend optimizing their ads here) where as with AdSense and YPN it has more to do with what you write than anything else as the ads are contextual. The following 12 tips for getting relevant ads are largely aimed at AdSense ads – but some will convert well also with YPN.
- Section Targeting – AdSense brought in a feature called Section Targeting last year that I know has helped some bloggers quite a bit. The idea is simple – you place tags around the parts of your content that you want ads to relate to and other tags around content that you want their ads to ignore. You can learn more about this directly from Google here. My own experience with section targeting has been that I’ve not noticed it really to have much of an impact. In fact at one point after adding it I noticed a downward relevancy of ads so I removed it and relied upon the following strategies more.
- Keywords in Content - Without stuffing your posts with keywords and thereby making them read poorly – it’s worth considering what words appear in your posts more than others because it is these words that are likely to be triggering your ads. To help AdSense out you might want to consider finding ways to use the keywords that you want to target more than once or twice in each post.
- Keywords in Titles - I find that if a keyword is in my post’s title it seems to have a real impact upon the type of ads showing on a post. This is particularly true if your post’s titles actually are your page’s titles (learn more about this here). Of course the extra benefit of thinking about keywords in these ways is that it will also help you with SEO. Similarly using keywords in <h> tags also seems to impact relevancy.
- Metatags – I’ve never seen the AdSense team talk about metatags but do know of a number of AdSense publishers who believe that AdSense does look at them in determining what a page is about. I’d recommend that you make sure your blog’s overall keywords are in your metatags in case this is a factor (it can’t hurt).
- Check your sidebars, header, footer and menus – If you’re not using Section Targetting (and blocking your sidebars from being read by AdSense as a basis for your ads) you’ll want to consider the words you have in your sidebars and menus. One common problem that some bloggers have is that they get ads for blogging related products even though they are writing on other topics. One of the common reasons for this is that they have the word ‘blog’ or ‘blogging’ in their sidebar in numerous places. Unless your blog is about blogging you might want to avoid the ‘b word’ as much as you can. Also scan what other words are being repeated in your sidebars that might impact your keyword density.
- Keep Posts to One Topic - The more focussed your posts are the more hints you’ll be giving AdSense about what you’ve written about. Posts that cover numerous topics tend to lead to unfocussed ads. This explains why sometimes front pages of blogs can be more difficult to get ad relevancy on than single posts. Front pages can be difficult and you’ll probably want to work on keyword density there.
- Keep your Blog/URL to One Topic – Some AdSense publishers believe that AdSense looks not only at the page that the ad is on itself but the whole site that it is on. I’m not convinced that you can’t get relevant ads if you write on multiple topics on the one URL (I have done it with some success myself) – but it does seem to help to have a URL all on the one topic (ie it’s not essential – but worth factoring into your blogging strategy).
- Check to see if Ads Exist - This rarely happens with AdSense as their inventory for ads is pretty wide (YPN has a smaller inventory so this might be more useful for those publishers), but occasionally I’ve done consulting for publishers who have struggled to get relevant ads and have found that there just are not too many ads in their niche at all because it is too specialized. It’s a little difficult to check this but one basic way to do so is to head to Google.com and do a search for the keyword that you’d like to see ads on. If the results page has ads on it that are relevant there is a fair chance that there are ads in the AdSense inventory on the topic. If not – they could be scarce and you might need to widen your niche topic.
- Check what Ads others See – The ads you see on your blog are more than likely to be different ads than your readers are seeing. This is largely due to the fact that ads are geo targeted to your readers. Advertisers are able to choose which countries or regions that they want to expose their advertisements to. As a result sometimes your region might have fewer relevant ads than other regions and it can be worth asking someone else in another part of the world to tell you what kinds of ads they are seeing on your blog.
- Block Irrelevant Ads – This tip is one of last resort and may not actually have much impact at all but I know of a few bloggers who do it. AdSense lets publishers block a ads via their Competitive Ad Filter. If you’re seeing ads that are irrelevant to your blog’s topic you can block them using this method. Of course you should keep in mind that the ads you see on your blog are specific to your location and your readers are probably seeing others – so blocking ads can be a somewhat pointless exercise.
- Ad Relevancy takes Time - If your blog is a new one and you’re getting irrelevant ads then it could simply be that your blog is not old enough. I find that some blogs seem to get good ads straight away while others can take a week or two to settle down. So give it a little time to see if they right themselves.
- When in Doubt – Ask AdSense – There have been a number of times when I’ve not been able to figure out why relevant ads are not being served to a blog that I own. In each case I’ve sent an email to AdSense via their feedback mechanisms and have politely asked them to take a look at the pages/blog I’m struggling with. I find that their responses can often be quite helpful. You might get a fairly automated response at first but if you persist and reply to that you tend to get a ‘real person’ responding.