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Small Changes That Lead to Big Results

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of May 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 56

A Guest Post by James Dunworth. First Image by NDevil

business-graph.jpgOver the years I have spent hours working on tweaks to my websites that have lead to zero or imperceptible improvement in rankings and earnings.

On other hand, I have also made changes which took just a few minutes of my time – and lead to huge changes in profits and revenues.

All of the changes here took less than an hour to implement.


After linking AdSense to my analytics accounts, I analysed my website to see where adsense payments were coming from.

The results were astounding.

While there were around 800 hundred pages in my website, 70% of the revenue were generated from just 3 pages, relating to jobs in my niche.

I commissioned an advert from a freelancer. As I had another advert done at the same time it cost just $15. I placed the advert in a prominent position on my website.

That month my adsense revenue rose from $533 to $832.

Graph showing increase in adsense revenue.

That was last year. Last month revenue was over 2000 dollars. Obviously, now I know which pages are making money I have spent some serious effort in optimising those pages!


I have never liked pop up forms, and I assumed that most people would react in the same way as I often do when I see a pop up form – leave the website.

However, I decided to test the Aweber popover on my website.

The result? A huge increase in sign up rates, as shown in the graph below.

Image showing growth in monthly subscribers.

This hasn’t always been replicated on other websites I own, but it does make the case that you should always tests things, even when you think they won’t work – it might just make a huge difference to your site.

(Intriguingly, the new and much more attractive Aweber forms lead to an immediate and substantial drop in subscription rates!)


I decided to add images of users with electronic cigarettes to the front page of my e-commerce website, E-Cigarette Direct.

One particular image was of a Welsh National Opera singer using our product on stage. I chose this one because it showed the acceptance of the device by a very respected organisation in my country.

Opera singer smoking an electronic cigarette.

The next day orders flooded in.

When things settled down we were left with a 17% improvement in the conversion rate.

That meant thousands of dollars a month to our business!

Your thoughts

What small changes have you made to your blog or website which have made big a difference?

James Dunworth is the IT director of E Cigarette Direct, the UK distributor of the NJOY electronic cigarette ( He is also the co-author of’s study Electronic Cigarette (E Cigarettes) As a Potential Harm Reduction Product,

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.
  1. Wow what a great concise post. Well I put my subscription form above the fold of my website and that double opt in’s.

  2. I’m looking into a sign up page to increase my email list over time. It’s confidence that grows over time to place a sign up page and sell the benefits of why your regular visitors should join.

    Once the system is in place it can multiply fast!… Look at problogger, it must be collecting 1,000 fresh emails a week!…

    Another awesome guest post ;]

  3. James its just a great tip! Nice to know you earn $2000 only through adsense. wow! Its too inspirational. Ok well I earned $5 yesterday through adsense. Ankush,

  4. Even, i too earn 65 % of my adsense clicks from few popular pages with high retweets!! So, i made those pages featured linked from my blog’s front page and it worked more better for me.


  5. How can you tell that the opera singer was smoking your product?
    Looks like a regular cigerette.
    Did you get her permission to use her image to promote your website?
    I would skip this route unless you have a picture of the celebrity clearly using your product in a public setting.

  6. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by testing things since I tend to be a perfectionist. I’ve always felt like once I start I’d end up in an endless process of sifting through details and making tweaks. However, this post makes me think that’s an absolutely irrational idea. I think I just need to figure out what my highest priorities are and then test only those with significant changes.

    Anyway, thanks for the post! I’ve got a lot to think about today.

  7. Though inspirational, it’s not advisable to post Adsense figure publicly. Perhaps it’s against Google ToS.

  8. Hey Darren.

    Blogs like yours and Copyblogger have really inspired me to maximize my above-the-fold as much as possible. I made my nav links narrower, took my header from 140 px high to 106 and trimmed a lot of extra padding — making my posts much higher on the page — immediately visible.

    I also went from 2 sidebars to 1, to increase my images from 500 px wide to 700 px. (I have at least 1 big photo each post that relates directly to my content.)

    I’m noticing Stumblers are sticking around more than three times as long than before my design tweaks. Cooincidence? Probably not!

  9. James!! Sorry I was remiss in addressing you — the actual author of this post.

  10. @Jannie
    Wow, it’s quite a while since I visited your blog, but what a change! :)

    You don’t use the popover anymore, and I assume that’s because of the redesign you mentioned. What do you plan to use instead?

  11. The biggest booster was when I installed the top commentator plugin, which I have coupled with a monthly prize for the highest commentator. Not to mention links from a PR5 blog. Worked like a charm. Though I get more spam, I get many more high quality comments and much more traffic.

  12. That is a great tip. Even, i too earn 70 % of my adsense clicks from few popular pages. Congrats for your $2000 through adsense. Thanks for inspiration.

  13. Great tip related to the subscription pop up forms. I will try this, too…

  14. Great post about the importance of testing different strategies on your website. Just like other areas of life sometimes the small things make a huge difference.

  15. This reminds me of the importance of changing things around on my blog. I think I’ll try the Aweber pop-up form. I’m like you, I’ve never been a fan of pop-ups but like you said it’s worth trying. I was surprised that the Aweber forms had a low conversion for sign-ups. Thanks for sharing, though.

  16. i also did some changes and my blog traffic went up by 68%

    what i did is reduced the time of page loading and removed most of the big images from the homepage and used the excerpt instead

    i will also start using adsense and analytics together from now on

    thanks for the info

  17. I hate the popovers. I never opt in to those so I’m very surprised at your findings. I don’t know if I’m going to test that one, because I just can’t stand them.

  18. Really great post James! It all really depends on the minor details.

    My experience I find is odd. I sell a theme on my blog which I made myself, and I created a custom ad banner for it. I placed it in my header and it was 468×60, a pretty standard size. The theme sold fairly well, and the banner was pretty noticeable so of course people were click it – it was at the top of the site!

    After a while, I decided to move the banner down the page and into the sidebar. The ad was much smaller, and even underneath some other content in my sidebar.

    Yet, for whatever reason, that page started receiving more traffic and more sales. I can’t really explain it, but for some reason it was more noticeable farther down the page than actually on top?

  19. Monitoring them closely can reveal how fast the climate is changing and what role humans may be playing in that change. Test

  20. I still believe in the saying that content is king. Instead of wasting time changing things around, it will pay you a great deal to spent that time adding content to your blog. Of course not every content will bring a surge in traffic, but you will soon realize that some particular posts will be raking in a lot of traffic. A word to the wise is enough.

  21. I started commenting on every piece of content that made me think or feel something — depending on how much you read, this could be looked at as both a small or large change, but regardless, it’s personally helped boost traffic to my own profile and thus helped me connect with a lot of the blogging community.

    Nice post!


  22. Hi @Rob

    The Welsh National Opera were keen to promote their opera at the same time, so the images were released with a press release, and we had permission to use them as well. We also have images of our staff with the opera singer here:

  23. @jannie No problem!

  24. Hi @Dave

    I use the popover to promote an e-course now rather than for the newsletter sign up. It works even more effectively for the e-course!

  25. Hi Alex, Thanks for the compliment! It’s really strange what works and what doesn’t. I found that the new Aweber forms didn’t convert as well for me, even though they look much more attractive.

  26. Yes I always believe in changing it can be color scheme in Adsense or heading or placement …

    Certainly Google Analytics is great tool provided you know how to use it at your best.

  27. The Aweber tools have been recommended to me a few times now and seeing the results you achieved its probably high time I tried them out. I guess as you point out though experimentation is the key to finding out what works and what doesn’t, so using performance measuring tools is going to be pretty essential as well.

  28. It is amazing what a few small changes can do to increase income, email sign ups and whatever other goals you want to achieve.

    Recently I added one of Aweber’s lightbox forms to a small site I run and I am so far very impressed with the results. About 20% of visitors sign up. This is still a new experiment so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

  29. Hello James,
    This is good stuff! It’s great to be able to see what works for others and apply it.
    What worked for me? I follow Jeff Baas’s blog. He teaches about writing content to motivate purchases. I really got excited and changed my content to address “feelings” my visitors may have when giving “gifts” to others. Took about 2 hours to change copy on my main “gift” pages. Within a week, I had 90% more sales! Check out my home page for an example of this.
    I have an extremely low newsletter sign-up rate. Pathetic really. I’m going to try the pop-up since I have nothing to lose.
    Thanks so much everyone for sharing your tips, this is so interesting.

  30. After reading a post here about the pop-up subscription box a few months ago I decided to research the possibility of having one.

    If you don’t use Aweber I found a few WordPress plugins that do a simple but similar pop-up. But I was (and still will be for the next few weeks) using Blogger.

    And I just did not find the pros of Aweber to outweigh the cons for myself- so I still had Feedburner.

    But I wanted to do something- so I moved my subscription box into the middle of my blog- above the posts. And it worked. For the first 2 months I saw 4x the sign ups. Now it has leveled off to 2x. Which means that instead of 5000 subscribers by the end of the year, which was my goal in January, I have already surpassed that number in May.

    I think it is a really good compromise for those who can’t or don’t want to use the pop-up method.


  31. Very interesting posts. I may not spend enough time working on website tweaks. Hmm, I’ll have to get to work!

  32. William Carol says: 05/17/2010 at 7:06 am

    All business aside …..

    Just the image of someone smoking makes me want to puke !

    I don’t care if it’s real or fabricated it is disgusting.

    Stay true to the human progression please.

    If smoking related monetary influences are what you consider to be a business positive, you are very misguided, regardless of the payoff.

  33. Good suggestions. I realise how important analytics is but too often, it gets neglected and it’s easy to become obsessed with just the numbers and not in how they break down.

  34. This is the kind of practical, valuable, clear and concise blog post I hope to offer in future. Thanks for the great tips!
    ~Kate W. , new to blogging

  35. A tiny change with a big impact indeed. This article tell me to take serious of each change — even tough it is just for a little change.

  36. Thanx for a great post James,

    Actually i was just about to make an email pop up several times on my blog. However when all the stuff was ready for publishing I never hit the save button, because I was couldn’t get rid of thought that I’m hating those pop ups so much, so probably my readers wont like them too.

    Probably i should be more courageous and experiment more.

  37. Inspirational post for every Blogger. Small changes makes a big difference in earning.

  38. I am a great believer in Analytics’s and the impact it can have on you making that extra cash from your blog.

    Thanks James

  39. I completely agree with William Carol.

  40. It’s boggling, no, absolutely psychologically staggering, how the smallest of tweaks can bring about the most drastic of changes in a blog.

    To paraphrase another famous blogger, blogging is a big balancing act. And one should not be worried about making mistakes. One should worry about missing oppurtunities. And your statistics here serve only to exasperate that particular point!

  41. This is very helpful as analytics have been my weak spot. How do I link my Adsense account to google analytics?

    Also how can I find great keywords for posts that I write. Your reply and advice is appreciated.

  42. So, a lot of this sounds outside of my realm of understanding. Would these pointers help if all I want to do is come up first in a keyword search? Not trying to make money off it, just traffic.


  43. Hello James,

    I have already commented here but returned to read the article again.

    I am trying to interpret what you mean by this statement.

    “I commissioned an advert from a freelancer. As I had another advert done at the same time it cost just $15. I placed the advert in a prominent position on my website.”

    Is an “advert” another word for an advertisement?


  44. I’m wondering the same thing that Deborah is wondering: Do you mean to say that you the articles that were pulling in over 70 percent of your Adsense revenues were commissioned?

  45. Last week I changed the adsense text ad to both text and image ad, there was an increase in the CTR.

  46. James Dunworth says: 05/22/2010 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Deborah

    Sorry for the late reply – yes, advert means advertisement in the UK.


  47. James Dunworth says: 05/22/2010 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Anthony

    Yes, I commissioned the design of the article. I have no eye for design myself. What I should really do is have a second advert designed and put in the sidebar of my website, and split test that advert.


  48. Thought provoking post! And a good reminder to test things, rather than just assume they won’t work.

    I’ve started running Facebook ads, increasing the limits over the days that seem to perform better, then adding more specific links back to my site from the Fanpage.

  49. Sorry if I’m being dense, but I don’t understand how the advert relates to the 3 pages that were already doing well on AdSense. How did adding this advert cause more clickthroughs to adsense?

  50. James, hi,

    Very interesting – and I share your view on pop-over opt-in invitations, but decided to give it a try anyway. It will be interesting to watch how it pans out.

    BTW, I also noticed a major drop off in new subscribers with the new Aweber forms and, today, my sites with the old forms consistently pull in more new subscribers than ones with the new form. I’d love to know why!



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