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How to Prevent and Monitor Invalid Clicks, and keep an AdSense Account in Good Standing [a Statement from AdSense]

Over the last week or two there’s been an increase amount of chatter on forums and blogs about invalid clicks and AdSense. Some of the talk has contained information that has been a little confusing and perhaps even ill-informed (and some ‘influenced’ by companies with their own agendas) – so I got in touch with AdSense and asked if they had any information to help their publishers protect themselves against invalid clicks.

The following is what they replied with – in their words it is ‘a concise guide to how to prevent and monitor invalid clicks, and keep an AdSense account in good standing.’ I hope that it is helpful to AdSense publishers everywhere:

The Google AdSense team has heard many concerns about how Google treats invalid click activity on publisher’s sites, and there have been questions on how to keep your AdSense account in good standing. The Google Ads Quality Traffic Team wants to help all publishers keep their accounts in good order, so here are some tips to keep in mind.

We understand that it’s not always possible to control the behavior of your users, but you can be proactive about monitoring your traffic, and you can take steps to ensure that your site provides a helpful and safe environment for users and advertisers. Here are some top tips for keeping your account in good standing (which you may have seen before): https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=23921

Expanding on the tip “Be aware of how your site is promoted.” we’d like to remind you that, should you purchase traffic to promote your site, you do so at your own risk. There are many site promotion services out there that appear to be legitimate PPC advertising companies or search engines, but actually may be sending artificial traffic to your site for their own gain. (For legal reasons, we’re not allowed to disclose the names of such services.)

To combat this, we highly recommend that you use channels to segment your traffic by source (e.g. a channel for your site’s Google AdWords traffic only). If one channel’s reports look particularly suspicious, you may want to consider unsubscribing from that traffic service. We also recommend using Analytics to slice and dice your traffic reports further to ensure that you’re receiving clicks from users who are genuinely interested in your ads.

Though we encourage you to be proactive about monitoring your site and ad traffic, we highly discourage the use of click tracking via third-party software or custom ad implementations. These methods may:

  • inadvertently disclose sensitive information about you or your site to a third-party
  • disrupt Google’s ad delivery or click logging in a way that violates our Terms and Conditions

In addition, click tracking may not provide you with significantly more information than you can already find in your AdSense or Analytics reports. We believe that the creative use of channels can help you gain detailed insights into your account.

If you see unusual activity on your account, feel free to submit this form to let us know: https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/request.py?contact=invalid_clicks_contact Please note that we will only respond if we find a significant issue with your account.

Invalid clicks can come from many sources, as described at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=16737. While we’re unable to go into the details of our monitoring system, you should know that invalid clicks don’t always mean clicking on your own ads or using click bots. Our Ad Traffic Quality Team looks for numerous types of activity that may inflate advertiser costs, then takes the necessary actions to protect our advertisers.

That said, we still find that many publishers are clicking on their own ads, possibly because they feel that Google is disregarding those clicks. Keep in mind that even though we filter the revenue from an invalid click, we don’t ignore it completely. If we detect significant invalid activity on your AdSense ads, we may take action on your account to protect our advertisers from inflated costs. Here are some examples of situations in which clicking your own ads is prohibited:

  • Clicking out of interest in the ad content
  • Clicking to see an ad’s destination URL, such as for filtering purposes (we recommend trying the AdSense Preview Tool, available at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=10005)
  • Clicking to ensure that Google is properly registering clicks on your ads (we log all ad clicks, but it can sometimes take up to 24 hours before your reports are finalized)
  • Clicking to test your website

For general invalid click questions, you can find more information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=8426

For questions about AdSense accounts disabled for invalid clicks, you can find more information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Thanks to the team at AdSense team for providing this information.

Get Your Free Roadmap to Become a Blogger

become-a-blogger.jpgIf you’re new to blogging and just starting out – do yourself a favor and get your hands on the Roadmap to Become a Blogger – a free report by Gideon Shalwick and Yaro Starak.

The report has been downloaded by over 20,000 bloggers and has helped many get their head around some of the basics of getting a blog up and running and moving towards the success that we all dream of as bloggers.

Gideon and Yaro are stand up guys with a heap of experience – if you’re just starting out I recommend you grab their report and learn from their wisdom.

How to Optimize Ads on a Blog for Higher Profit [VIDEO]

“What is the best way to utilize ads on a blog and maximise their potential profit?” – Question from @RyanBarr on Twitter.

This video post looks at 5 factors that help to make an ad be more profitable on your blog – it’s based on an older post here on ProBlogger where I presented an equation for AdSense success.

The five factors are:

  1. Traffic
  2. Ad Positioning
  3. Ad Design
  4. Relevancy (between reader intent, the content and the ads)
  5. How much are ads paying

While I originally came up with this equation with regards to AdSense it relates to all kinds of advertising on blogs as well as affiliate programs to some degree. The principles are introductory but a good place to start for those just starting with making money from blogs.

23% of ProBlogger Readers Have Written Paid Posts [POLL RESULTS]

Have you written a paid review on your blog was the question in our last reader poll here at ProBlogger. 1771 people responded and the result was fairly clear – over three quarters of you have never done a paid review.

  paid-reviews-blogs-poll.png

77% have never done one and a further 7% don’t currently do one which leaves 16% who either do them regularly or occasionally.

What interests me most about these results is the change in them from last time we asked the question back in 2007.

In that poll we only gave the option for a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answer but there has been a swing away from paid posts in that time. The shift has not been massive but is noticeable. Here’s how it went last time.

imagespicture-2-17.png

Perhaps this reflects a change in the audience here at ProBlogger but I suspect it also shows a change in bloggers attitudes to paid posts also.

Back in 2007 they were a much hotter topic (there was a heap of debate on the topic) and many bloggers were keen to experiment with paid posts as a potential income stream.

Do You Do Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog? [POLL]

Affiliate Marketing is one income stream that many bloggers experiment with – but how many are attempting to make money in this way?

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Do You Do Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog?
Total Votes: 1295 Started: 6/19/2009 Back to Vote Screen



Once you’ve voted – here’s a few posts on the topic for those wanting to explore it more.

Don’t know what Affiliate Marketing is? Check out What is Affiliate Marketing.

Simple Changes Doubled My Adsense Revenue

In this post Todd Fratzel from Home Construction Improvement and Today’s Green Construction shares how he doubled the AdSense revenue on his blog with a few simple changes.

Several simple changes in my Adsense approach and layout have almost doubled my blog’s revenue. The results were so drastic and eye opening that I convinced a friend (www.oneprojectcloser.com) to make the same changes to his blog with even better results. The changes involve two simple ideas that can be easily incorporated into any Adsense monetized website or blog.

I’ve been blogging for over two years now and growing traffic, authority and readership slow and steady. Along with the steady increase in traffic the site has continued to increase it’s Adsense revenue at a similar pace with no sudden increases regardless of all the changes and adjustments I’ve made. That was true until I took the time to study many different published Adsense approaches. As I read all of these different approaches three distinct ideas came to the forefront.

Three Important Adsense Approaches

  • Less is More – This concept is really simple yet I hadn’t really given it much thought before. First off the top ad is the highest paying ad and you want that in the best possible position.

Secondly, if you’re using all three of the allotted Adsense units on a given page then there are quite a few ads all competing for attention or a click through. However, if you only use one Adsense unit then you’re limiting the number of ads served and improving the likelihood that one of those ads will get clicked. Therefore, the theory is that an advertiser will be willing to pay a higher rate for less competition.

  • Size Matters – If you read enough Adsense guides you’ll find that the 336 x 280 Large Rectangle is the most effective Adsense unit. It typically offers four ads and they are likely to be very related to the topic based on the position between the post title and body.
  • Position, Position, Position – Placing your Adsense unit above the fold is imperative for success. This makes sense to me for one reason. Every day my site (and I assume most sites) gets a majority of it’s traffic from search engines. This traffic is generated from people searching for something. So when they land on my page and they decide that it’s not the content they were looking for then I want them to see the Adsense unit right where they land so that becomes an “outclick” option.

How I Doubled My Adsense Revenue

In order to understand the approach I used to double my Adsense revenue I’ll use two graphics that show the same post before the changes and after the changes. First – the before shot:

increase-adsense-earnings-before.jpg

And here’s the after shot:

increase-adsense-earnings-after.jpg

My Old Adsense Layout Included:

  1. 468 x 60 Text Only Unit located in the header area of my page.
  2. 468 x 60 Text Only Unit located between the post title and the body of the post.
  3. 468 x 60 Text Only Unit located at the end of the post before the comment section.

Revised Adsense Layout Includes:

  1. Remove the old 468 x 60 Text Only Unit completely and replaced with an affiliate banner. The idea here is to remove some of the units in order to address concept #1 of Less is More.
  2. Replace the old 468 x 60 Text Only Unit with the 336 x 280 large rectangle unit. This unit is above the fold between the post title and body which makes it a very prominent position. This change addresses both of concept #2 and #3 for Size Matters and Position.
  3. Remove the old 468 x 60 Text Only Unit completely. I actually replaced this with the new Chitika Jumbo unit which is also performing quite well. Again the removal helps address the Less is More concept.

Immediate Results

increase-adsense-earnings.jpg

If you look at the graph of my Adsense revenue over the last two months you’ll see that the increased revenue was immediate. The changes were made as indicated by the Red Circle #1. As you can see my revenue went from under $150 per week to almost $300 per week. Immediate should be taken with a grain of salt, the increase happened over several days and it’s likely to take some time for Adsense to incorporate the reduced number of ads being served on your site.

Summary Of Improved Adsense Layout

While I’d be naive to think that this will double any and all Adsense revenue for any site I think the principal is worth evaluating on all sites. The concept is really simple; make one large, well positioned ad do all the work. This will make your page look cleaner and it’s likely to improve your revenue immediately. It’s also important that you follow some of the basic suggestions of blended ads that match the color and fonts of your site. So far I’ve done this on two of my sites and a friend’s site with the same result, improved Adsense revenue.

Note from Darren: I think that the key with optimizing a blog for AdSense (or other ad networks) is to experiment. The best thing that Todd did here was to try something new and to track the results. What he’s done has worked for him but it might not work for everyone – the key is to keep trying different combinations of numbers of ads, ad sizes, ad positions, ad design (color, fonts etc) and to try different ad types until you find what works best for your blog.

Dear Google: Please Take Feedburner to the Next Level

google-feedburner.pngDear Google – I have a suggestion that I submit to you for your consideration.

It pertains to your excellent Feedburner service (particularly the email subscription element of it) which so many hundreds of thousands of bloggers (I’m taking a stab in the dark on that number, it could well be more) use to deliver our content to readers.

My observation of Feedburner is that it seems to have stalled a little in terms of it’s development of features and options for bloggers.

I know that you’ve done a major transition recently in integrating Feedburner into the Google fold and that this must have been a massive job – but I’d love to see you accelerate the development of this important service – most bloggers I know rely upon Feedburner to deliver our content to subscribers, it’s central to what we do so we’d love to see it be everything that it can be.

One of the areas I’d like to see improved is the service that allows us to deliver our RSS feed to readers via email. This is one of the most popular ways that my readers access my feed – it’s crucial to delivering my content to tens of thousands of readers every day.

One of the improvements that I’d like to see made is illustrated by an email that I received from a reader of my photography blog yesterday.

I would not really have taken a lot of notice of her suggestion except for the fact that she’s the 7th reader so far this month (it’s only 18th of June) to email me asking the same thing. Here’s what she asked me:

I really enjoy reading the DPS Daily Update emails, and I am quickly amassing a library of them in a saved Outlook email folder for future reference. Problem is, when I want to refer to my growing library of saved DPS emails, all of the subject lines are the same, and I do a lot of searching for the topic I’m looking for. While I could use my email search tool, I generally want to quickly scan the subject lines and see a description of what’s actually in the email.

I’ll save today’s email, because there’s a great tip on fixing keystone issues. How cool would it be to scroll down my list of saved emails and see…

“Digital Photography School – Daily Update: Photographing Industrial Deserts and Fixing Keystone Issues”

“Digital Photography School – Daily Update: Metering Modes and Batch Resize”

“Digital Photography School – Daily Update: Fluid Mask 3 and Smart Scaling”

Google – at the moment every email that I send to my subscribers using the RSS to email service that you offer (I have over 21,000 readers subscribing this way) gets the same subject line, every single day of the week/month/year/decade.

Here’s how it looks when I look at the folder that contains these updates:

dear-google-feedburner.png

As I say – this is not an isolated complaint – I get it it every 2-3 days. Readers are telling me that they unsubscribe because they don’t find the emails as useful as they could be.

Other RSS to Email solutions allow publishers to customize the emails that they send using tags (Aweber’s Blog Broadcast tool for example). I’d prefer to keep all my subscriptions where they are but am slowly getting to the point where I think I’ll be forced to move.

Another feature that other tools give is to change the frequency that these RSS to email subscriptions are delivered. You can have them delivered as posts are written, daily, when there’s X# of posts written, weekly, on a certain day of the month (you allow us to choose a time of day which is great – but how about going to the next step?).

They also give you the option to go in and manually edit emails before they’re sent so that you can add extra content just for subscribers of these emails as well as use different designs, templates and customizations to make your emails look more unique (you allow some color changes and adding a logo which is cool – but it’s still pretty limited).

All in all the product you’re offering looks pretty much the way it did a year or two back from the front end. Gone are the days when we used to see new announcements of features from Feedburner every few weeks. Yep – Feedburner works (for most of us) but where is the innovation that we used to see?

Perhaps I’m convincing myself to switch my list over to Aweber as I write this, but I guess I wanted to verbalize my suggestions before moving on. I hope that they help to improve what you’re offering your publishers.

Now that you’ve got your publishers all onto the Google feeds system I do hope that we’ll see the product taken up to the next level.

Darren Rowse

ProBlogger.net

AdSense Introduces Font Size Choice for Publishers

One of the more commonly requested features that I see AdSense publishers making is for the ability to be able to change font size in their ads.

The AdSense blog today announces this change:

“The font size you choose will be applied to the body of the ad, with the title scaled appropriately. In order to fit the ad text correctly, the actual font size will vary for each format size, font face, and user-specific settings such as browsers and operating systems. In addition, some formats sizes currently have very limited room, so the font size application will be most apparent in cases where the number of ads appearing in your ad units varies automatically in order to maximize your performance.

Your ads are currently set at the default size for AdSense, which is the equivalent of ‘small’. You can select a new font size on an account-wide basis in the Ad Display Preference section of your My Account tab, or on an individual ad unit basis for new and existing ad units.

If you’re creating new ad units, you can choose between the AdSense default font size, your new account-wide font size (if you’ve selected one using the instructions above), or a separate size. To update existing ad units you’ve created using the Manage Ads feature, visit the ‘Manage Ads’ page under your AdSense Setup tab. Any font size changes you make on an individual ad unit basis will be maintained even if you change your account-wide default in the future.”

Also announced in the post is that the default size for ads will soon be automatically increased from ‘small’ to ‘medium’. This is due to testing that they’ve done which shows that larger size is performing better.

One Blog or Many? [VIDEO]

Here’s a video answer to a question I was asked on Twitter a few days back on whether it’s good to have more than one blog or just to concentrate on one.