How effective is your blog ad placement?
You know the drill when it comes to real estate; the value of the property is determined by only three things – location, location, and location. When it comes to blog ad placement, the same holds true. Now that you know how to get the AdSense code for your site, you have to give careful consideration to how you place the ads to make them most effective – and most profitable.
The best neighborhoods
At one time, Google did a study of the best locations for ads on websites. They put the result of that study in a heatmap, as shown in the infographic to the right. The best locations for blog ad placement are shown in darker colors. Those less likely to attract visitors' eyes in lighter colors.
You may look at Google's heatmap in amazement; there seems to be little room for actual site content. When planning blog ad placement, you aren't putting ads everywhere you see an ad in the infographic to the right. Google distributed the heatmap in 2011, and alerted webmasters there must be adequate content on each page. If your site has too many ads and not enough meaningful content, you're site won't show up in search results!
What's more, Google has made it abundantly clear that there must be a reasonable amount of content “Above the Fold” (ATF). Early in 2012, Google launched their “Page Layout Algorithm”. They began enforcing the fact that content must be immediately visible, without your visitor having to scroll. Since different visitors view your site on different devices (desktop, tablet, or smartphone) and have different sized browsers, how are webmasters to comply with this new rule?
An “Above the Fold” tool
You can make use of a free “Above the Fold” tool to view your site as your visitor views it. Simply insert your URL in the tool's test field, and the site will appear behind a transparent colored panel (click the picture to enlarge). Look for percentages on each colored panel – they represent how common browser sizes are. You can resize the window to see how your site will look in larger or smaller web browsers. If you have a responsive theme, the images and text will re-flow to new sizes and locations so they are fully visible at small browser sizes as well as large ones.
The “Page Layout Algorithm” was Google's first step to encourage webmasters to open up the tiny content area shown in their heatmap. The question remains however, how much content above the fold is enough? Further, exactly what is “content”? Are sites with large header images to be punished? Does the area occupied by navigation fit Google's definition of content? Google isn't saying. All they have indicated is that they consider sites which have the top of the page full of ads as undesirable. Google intends to deliver a good experience to surfers, and surfers don't want to scroll down to get to the content.
If you'd like to see what your site will look like on a various screens, download and try out the free Opera Mobile Emulator. It lets you pick a specific device to view blog ad placement, or lets you pick custom screen sizes and resolutions to view your site.
Google has other rules as well
Be sure to read Google's other rules as they relate to ad placement on your site. Some rules are absolute – for example, you cannot have more than three AdSense for content units on any one page. You're also limited to a maximum of three link units on a page, and no more than two search boxes per page. These rules (and many others) are all spelled out at Google's page for ad placement policies. There are some who swear by Google AdSense, which makes up most of their online income. Others swear at Google for banning their AdSense account for no apparent reason.
Make no mistake, the good folks at Google have very little sense of humor when it comes to perceived policy infractions. If they smell a whiff of deceit, they will ban your account – and they'll never look back. Be careful to mind their policies and stay on top of your blog ad placement. Having your account banned could ruin your whole day! It's difficult to contact anyone at Google unless your revenue is more than $25 per week – and even then your contact is limited to email only.
Google is widely considered the most lucrative of the advertising networks, and is therefore the most sought after account for those who put advertising on their web site. There are alternatives, however. For example, Bing and Yahoo have joined forces to offer a single advertising network for most customers. The bad news, from those who use the network, is that they don't see quite as much revenue as when they use Google AdSense on their site. The good news is that they are much more communicative when it comes to customer service.
… or you can “roll your own” advertising network
You can use a premium advertising plugin such as OIO Publisher. This allows you to rent ad space directly to interested parties, whether to Google, Bing / Yahoo, or some other advertiser – or a mix of all of them! Running your own advertising network offers several benefits:
- Are you tired of settling for a cut of the advertising revenue? Splitting your blog ad revenue is typical with Google AdSense, the Bing / Yahoo network, and most other advertising networks.
- You should be concerned about the major advertising networks' unyielding policies that may lead to your advertising account being permanently banned and that income suddenly terminated.
- By renting out your own blog ad location by location, you have control over your advertising income. You're able to sign advertising contracts with several companies, seeking the most lucrative advertising deals.
- Occasionally inappropriate advertising may be placed on your site. Large advertising networks such as Google or Bing / Yahoo may place inappropriate ads, such as ads for a dating service on your home improvement site. The networks give you some control over these ads, but your control is far from complete. Independent control of advertising on your site with a plugin such as OIO Publisher can help alleviate the problem. You need to ensure any ad content which appears is appropriate, and won't drive off your site's visitors.
The learning curve can be steep, and you have to keep track of all the moving pieces. You're on your own, but if you keep pushing forward you'll take control of your own destiny! Note that the discussion of blog ad placement above is far from complete – that would involve a much longer article.
Questions or comments?
Do you have a question or comment about blog ad placement? Spell it out in the comment box below and let it fly!