The importance of relevancy
– AdSense is a ‘contextual advertising’ program and when it is working at its best it is highly effective because it serves up ads that are highly relevant to the content on your site – this results (ideally) in a higher CTR (click through rate) (the way I describe it to friends is that if people come to your site looking for information on a particular product they are more likely to click an ad for that product than if they’d come looking for something else that is unrelated to the ad).
The problem is that AdSense doesn’t always get it right when assessing what your content is about and it will from time to time serve up irrelevant ads (although I’ve noticed less problems with this over the past 12 months in comparison to when I started out with AdSense).
There are a number of things you can do to increase the relevancy of your AdSense ads:
AdSense acknowledge the problem of irrelevant ads and have come up with a way of helping their ‘bots’ determine what parts of your site you want the ads to relate to (section targeting).
In short – section targeting allows you to put code around the most important parts of your page (ie the bits that you want the ads to relate to) and also allows you to put code around parts of your page that you don’t want AdSense to consider when serving up ads.
When I use section targeting on a blog page I generally put the code that highlights the important bits from just before my post titles to the end of posts. I also tell the bots to ignore my sidebars and footers.
These ‘tags’ are a part of your page’s source code (the code that you don’t see that is the backend of your page. You can view them by using the menus in your web browser (on Firefox go View > Page Source for example). They are generally at the top of your source code with something like:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”page keywords“>
<meta name=”description” content=”page description“>
While many people debate the relevancy of metatags in modern day search engine optimization (I think it does have some – limited – relevance personally), there is some evidence to suggest that what you have in them has an impact upon the AdSense ads that are served to your site.
At the very least put in some generic keywords and a description that fits with the overall theme of your site. However if you want to get a little more technical there try tying your page title into your metatags. You can do this in some blog platforms by using the ‘title tags’ code or by using a plugin designed for manage your metatags.
The main way of influencing the ads that AdSense serves to your blog is to think about the words you use on your blog. AdSense is not very good at reading between the lines of what your post is about – it needs to be explicitly told.
If your post is about digital cameras – use the words ‘digital cameras’ (and other associated with it including product names) throughout your posts. You don’t need to do it to the point of annoying your readers but do attempt to make it the dominant words on the page. Particularly pay attention to:
It almost goes without saying but what you write in the main part of your post has an impact upon your ads. Don’t go over the top but use descriptive keywords in your posts that match the type of ads you’re looking for. Product names, brand names are particularly good.
Post titles are important for search engine optimization as the search engines assume that what you put in your titles tells your readers what your site is about. Similarly they are important for AdSense.
A common reason for irrelevant ads on blogs is that a blogger has a sidebar which has a high keyword density for an irrelevant term in their sidebar. One prominent example of this 12 or so months ago was that many bloggers had ads about ‘blogging’ appear on their sites even though they never wrote about the topic. Often this was a result of sidebars having ‘blog rolls’, introductory sentences telling people they were reading a ‘blog’, links to other blogs that contained the word ‘blog – etc.
I’m not completely certain on this one – but it makes sense that if you are using pictures on your blog that you should name them with keywords that relate to your posts. This helps with SEO and I suspect would help with AdSense as it’s yet another word for the AdSense bots to analyze.
When I’ve done AdSense consulting in the past – one of the first things I’ll do when I come across a new page is check the source code of that page. It’s amazing what you’ll find when you do and it is particularly useful when looking at keywords.
If you’ve done all of the above and are still getting irrelevant ads served to your blog – consider shooting AdSense an email asking them to look into it. You might find it takes a little time for them to do it but I know of numerous examples of both big and small bloggers getting some results from this either with suggestions on what to do or with them flipping a switch somewhere at AdSense central that fixed the problem.
Tomorrow I’ll tackle AdSense and blog topics.
This post has been a part of the How to Fine Tune your Blog for Christmas Series.