Email Newsletter Subscribers Click More Ads

Here’s a quick observation that I’ve made (by no means is this what I consider to be conclusive research – but it’s interesting anecdotal observation).

I run a number of newsletters on my blogs. On two of them I’ve noticed that on the day that my newsletters go out that my AdSense CTR (click through rate) goes up significantly.

While I’ve written previously about how regular readers tend to become blind to ads because they see them so regularly – I am finding that with newsletter subscribers (that come to the site each week) that the blindness doesn’t seem to come into play.

I also noticed this trend when another site’s newsletter linked to my site and sent a lot of readers across. When I saw it happen I expected CTR to decrease (as it usually does when another site links to me) but in actual fact CTR (and overall earnings) went up. Once again the link came from a newsletter and not the actual website.

I wonder what it is about the type of people who subscribe to email newsletters that makes them more likely to click advertising?

Any theories?

Blogging For Chickens – Last Call

Chickens-80-1One last post about my Blogging For Chickens Project for the week. The total donated is now up to 80 pairs of chickens donated ($800AU or $600US).

I’ll continue to collect donation for the rest of the weekend but will close it off on Monday morning.

Thanks to all who have made a donation so far – if you’d like to see the chook-o-meter hit triple figures you can do so with a donation either directly to Oxfam or by shooting some money into my PayPal for me to make the donation during the next week (I’ll post a receipt when I do). Full details are in this post.

I’ve also had an email from Oxfam this week saying thank you and saying that this is one of the more interesting fundraisers that they’ve seen. They wanted me to pass on their appreciation to the ProBlogger community for your kindness and generosity.

Speedlinking – 30 September 2006

A couple of links today for workaholic work-at-home entrepreneurs:

Google Page Rank Update Underway Again

Thanks to everyone who has sent me email and IM to let me know that Google is updating it’s page rank at the moment. It does seem that there is an update under way from what I can see.

As usual you can check your Future Page Rank here on a post I wrote for a previous update.

If you’re new to the idea of page rank you might like to read my page rank explained post on the topic where I attempt to explain what it is and unpack whether it is actually important or not these days.

The Challenge for Video Bloggers

I was really excited to hear about the launch of Robert Scoble’s Video Blog in the past week. It certainly caused a stir around the blogosphere as it got lots of mentions on launch and some pretty positive reviews from viewers.

When I saw some of the segments included in the show I was even more excited – some of what he was covering was right up my alley. So I immediately loaded up a couple of segments to watch….

So what did I think of the show?

Ummmm…. well…. as I look at my browser at the moment I still have the two segments loaded up and ready to watch – they’ve been sitting there now for a few days – unwatched. I’ve sat down to watch them on a couple of occasions but each time got distracted.

I’m sure they’re really good but I’m wondering if I’m ever going to get to them. The thing with video is that you really need to set aside time to do it – especially if the videos are more than a minute or two in length (Roberts are mainly between 8 and 35 minutes).

Perhaps I’m just not cut out for being a video blogging viewer – but I wonder whether I’m the only one?

By no means am I saying Robert’s show is no good (I definitely want to watch a couple of them over the weekend…. or next week) or that video blogging will never succeed. I guess I’m just thinking out loud about one of the challenges that video blogging (and probably podcasting and blogging in a written format) has – busyness of readers/viewers.

Video blogging has a distinct advantage in that it’s both a audio and visual medium which means it can go onto ground that blogging or podcasting can’t – however it also means it’s a more intensive process to interact with (at least the way I use it).

Podcasting can be played in the background while you do something else and blogging has the advantage of being able to scan through to find the interesting bits – but video blogging (in the way I’m seeing it used) needs those using it both to listen and look at it for them to fully interact with it.

Of course TV and Movies have big followings, which shows people are willing to give their full attention, but I’m interested to see what type of people will fully interact with video blogging.

Interested in what others think. Do you watch video blogs? Why/Why not? If so how many per week?

PS: I do understand that this week at the Scoble show that they are in launch mode and as a result have launched with quite a few videos all at once – I guess in time the frequency of posting will be lower which will help people digest it – but I guess the challenge remains.

101 Ways to Run Out of Things to Blog About

The ‘list’ is a popular (and effective) style of blog post that appeals to many bloggers (and their readers). However in chatting to a few bloggers lately using lists can also be something of a trap at times – especially using the ‘mega list’.

nb: by ‘mega list’ I mean those long all encompassing lists – you know the type, they often are titled something like ‘101 ways to…..’.

While mega lists are quite impressive and often get a lot of attention from other blogs and social bookmarking sites – they also have the potential to bring your blogging to a halt quite quickly.

I was chatting to one new blogger last week who told me about a ‘101 ways to….’ post that she’d kicked off her blog with in his first week of a new blog. Here’s are a few snippets from an IM conversation we had:

‘I spent days putting together this great list. I wanted it to be big as a way of bringing new readers in and to show how much I comprehended of the topic…..’

‘the results were amazing. I got on the front page of Digg and high on Reddit and Delicious…..’

‘I had close to 30,000 visitors in 48 hours!….’

‘the next day I sat down to write my next post and realised that every topic I thought of to write about was covered in my mega list…..’

‘Readers are giving me feedback that I’ve lost it. They want more posts like that first one but I’ve got nothing else to say….’

‘I’ve run out of things to say after 2 weeks of blogging because I said it all in that first big post….’

It was a fascinating conversation and actually reminded me a of a few times in my own blogging that I’d had similar feelings of running out of things to say as a result of a list that was so comprehensive that it left little more to be said on a topic.

I recommended a two things to the blogger:

Consider the impact of using lists before you write them

Hindsight is a great thing but a little forethought can save a lot of pain. Before you hit publish on your next ‘list post’ ask yourself what impact it will have both in the short term (potential traffic) but also the long term.

  • Is it so comprehensive that your readers will be satisfied and not need more?
  • Does it leave you room to write more on your niche later?
  • Are you setting your readers up with the expectation that this is the way you write all your posts?

Use the list as a spring board for 101 posts

Of course my first piece of advice came too late for the blogger in question – they’d already posted it and was suffering the consequences already. So what should they do to get things running again? My advice was to use the list as a starting point for future posts.

Obviously people responded to the content in the list. It did cover a lot of ground but as with many lists it didn’t go into a great deal of depth on any one point. As I looked it over the list I reflected that each of the 101 points would have made a great heading for a future post going deeper. The blogger could do this either as a series (and tell people that she was working off the list) or it could just be something that the blogger knows she’s doing.

Google Opens AdSense Office In Australia

Yesterday I had an unexpected phone call. It was from Michael from Google.

Now while I do chat to a few Google employees occasionally it’s always at odd hours of the day and usually via email – but this was an afternoon call and via phone. Different….

The accent was American and my immediate thought was that someone was working very late (or had gotten up very early) as it was the early hours of the morning in the US.

Michael introduced himself and quickly told me that he was working in the AdSense department in Sydney (which had just opened) and that my account had just been transferred from my previous account manager (at Google HQ in California) to him.

Ok – so in the scheme of things it’s not massive news but it was nice to get a personal call from someone in my own timezone. It’s also great to know that next time I run into a problem with AdSense that I probably won’t have to wait until the following day when my rep in the US wakes up to get a response.

From what I could tell from our conversation the Aussie AdSense department is pretty small at present but is set to grow in the coming months as they begin to hire (hopefully some locals).

11 +1 Best Practices for URL Structure

SEOmoz blog has a helpful post with 11 Best Practices for URLs. They’re mainly written from an SEO perspective although make sense on other levels also.

  1. Describe Your Content
  2. Keep it Short
  3. Static is the Way & the Light
  4. Descriptives are Better than Numbers
  5. Keywords Never Hurt
  6. Subdomains Aren’t the Answer
  7. Fewer Folders
  8. Hyphens Separate Best
  9. Stick with Conventions
  10. Don’t be Case Sensitive
  11. Don’t Append Extraneous Data

I’d add one more.

12. Breaking the above practices doesn’t guarantee poor SEO results. While they will help there is hope if you break one or more of them. For example here at ProBlogger I use ‘archives’ (a non descriptive) and the date (numbers) in the URLs of my individual pages (both making the URL longer and breaking a couple of the other practices). While this is definitely not ideal I still do pretty well with SEO.

Most of the above practices are the type of things you need to think about when you’re setting up your blog. Changing your URL structure midstream can be a little tricky so unless it’s terribly bad and you’ve got other SEO factors working for you it might actually be best to keep the structure you’ve got.

Tabbed Browsing Increase CTR on Ads at Top of Page

The Scroll Bar Theory

When I first started using AdSense one of the tips that some AdSense experts suggested was to run skyscrapers down the right hand side of your site because this is where readers eye would be drawn to when they went to use the scroll bar.

Of course this strategy became less and less effective (probably due to rise in scroll wheels on the mouse which means less and less people use the scroll bar).

The Tabbed Browsing Theory

Today I was came across a suggestion by Chris Kenworthy who had a tip that reminded me of the above strategy. He’s been experimenting with running horizontal AdSense adlink units across the very top of his site. He’s tracked how much readers using different browsers click on the adlinks and has found that those using FireFox and IE7 (both with tabbed browsing – I presume it’d be similar with Safari) click the adlink units three times as much as others.

The reason for the increased clicks is similar to the scroll bar theory. People with tabbed browsing look at the top of their browsers to see the tabs and in doing so see the adlinks.

The adlink unit is ideal for this as it’s such a narrow ad but it would also be interesting to see if the CTR on larger banner ads also is higher with people using tabbed browsing.