How Content Affects Adsense Income

In the comments to my 10 Step Plan to a Profitable Blog post Trisha asks

How necessary is it to really find and write around high paying adsense terms? Does it make that much difference as long as you are writing about something that has some commercial relevance?

I did reply but I think it is worth a fuller explanation here.

Perhaps the easiest way to think about Adsense on your blog is to imagine your blog posts as being searches on Google. The words you use to compose your post are like search phrases and Google will attempt to return the most relevant results for the phrases you use. Think about your niche and the phrases people might use for research, leisure, etc. Then consider what words and phrases are used for commercial searches. The difference between the adsense payout for those different categories will be like night and day.

To give you an example one of my niches is programming so syntax or error message research phrases might be entered into Google search such as “sorting a list alphabetically” or “changing scrollbar colour”, etc. OK, a savvy advertiser might cotton on to the fact that those phrases are perfect for targeting a particular products audience but the competition for those phrases will be sow low we are talking pennies a click. On the other hand if the phrases used were highly commercial and competitive the payout is transformed. In programming these would be (I am guessing) “.net/java/php training” or broader IT terms like “data recovery”.

How do you know your guesses are right? Well first of all you can see the affects in your adsense account but a litmus test is to do some searches in Google and see how many ads show up. You can usually see just by looking at your adsense ads that show up in your posts how commercial and targeted your topic is. To illustrate with the example I used in my comment on the thread, take a look at this and this and work out which draws more income from adsense. I expect you will not find it difficult. If like me a percentage of your posts have ads for “free blogs” your content is not targeted enough to earn more than the bare minimum.

So if you are inflicted with a low paying topic how can you fix it? Personally I wouldn’t push this too hard, I actually think bending your blog to fit adsense is a bad move long term and this sort of thing is what makes adsense so damaging. On the other hand you might only need one or two teaks so that is fair enough.

  1. Be concious of your page titles – vague and non-commercial page titles give vague and non-commercial ads. The title (and filename interestingly enough, which on most blogs now are synonymous) has a disproportionate influence on which ads show up. Try and insert a company/product/service into titles that risk not performing.
  2. Always come back to money posts – Steer the content back to more commercial topics after addressing less commercial subjects. I wouldn’t encourage you to make a previously non-commercial blog 100% commercial as that is dangerously veering towards the splog. A good mix is probably best.
  3. Post commercial posts last – In a blogging day you want to leave the commercial topic top of page for longest. Overnight you don’t want the top post to be “and by the way my cat did the cutest thing” when you have a “Brand X announces update to product Y” post right under it. The top post can often influence the ads for the whole index page.
  4. Use section targeting – Section targeting is an adsense feature that allows you to influence adsense to take more notice of certain content than others using comment tags. It doesn’t work brilliantly for me but I have heard it can help.

So what about these lists of high paying adsense terms? Yes there are lists out there that promise to tell you which phrases earn $15 a click (or more) and they are useful … to a point. First you have to remember that these headline figures are NOT what you would get paid, not even close. They are what you would bid in adwords for search, a very different prospect. People bid much lower in content than they do in search, you get a cut not the whole fee and smart pricing reduces it even further. I have always had the nagging feeling that if you can get hold of this exact phrase info then Google is probably using it too, perhaps to seek out spammers. Paranoid? Probably, doesn’t mean they don’t do it. Best way to use those lists is to get ideas for broad subject areas that might be more profitable than what you are currently covering rather than using the exact phrases.

Which brings me to the final point, exact phrase matches are less important than getting the page theme right. Incremental improvements will make a big difference to your adsense income without destroying any audience you once had by twisting your blog into a made for adsense site. You don’t need to laser target your content, just be in the right ballpark. After all, your blog is all about your readers enjoying your content, not random visitors clicking adsense ads and never coming back.

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5 thoughts on “How Content Affects Adsense Income

  1. Just to add a minor point here, there are several high valued keywords in contextual advertizing systems such as adsense, but when trying to increase your blog’s adsense revenue you should also be concerned about the CTR (click through rates) value of such ads. Imagine writing a post about lawyers which can bring an average of $0.40 per click and deciding add reference to Asbestos expert lawyers. Asbestos lawyer is one of the highest valued keywords available but most of your readers are probably not seeing this ad as relevant which means that they are not clicking it and you are not getting paid. So, when trying to optimize your blog for adsense or any other contextual ad system, think about CTR as well as click value.


  2. Trisha the point about the commercial posts at the top is a delicate one but I was thinking from the point of view of how that content affects what adsense thinks the page is about and what ads to show, there can be some lag where adsense rethinks your page but if that top post is there all weekend showing rubbish ads thats a long time to be losing value.

  3. Get AdSense income by accident is a little point to think of which I discovered recently. I was wondering why people click on ads on my internal search result and on the archive page (instead of staying on my oh so valuable site 🙂 and the result was stunning. An empty search result page only provided ads and people seem to like to click on the ads when they are the only context shown. Must be some ‘ooh, dead end, how do I get out of here’ reflex. The same seems to happen on archive pages where a site category doesn’t show a big list a of articles.

    I’ll have to watch that in the future … the funny thing is that the contextual ads fit perfectly to the search keyword so people really get a relevant and attracting alternative.

    PS: Chris, great article! Good stuff to think about.

  4. Thanks for addressing this in more detail Chris!

    I always thought it would be best to not keep the more commercial posts at the top. I figured you’d be more likely to make from them from SE’s once they are indexed and that regular readers wouldn’t click the ads anyway so that it would be better to leave higher quality informative posts on top – to please readers and attract more links.

  5. Probably one of the most practical and useful posts I’ve ever read on the subject. Thanks.


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