I find it interesting that as bloggers we try to create the best content, the most welcoming and usable designs and more reasons for visitors to return but the majority of us get the best adsense rewards by efficiently driving visitors away.
Nick has touched on the strange relationship bloggers have with adsense but it has started to really concern me.
In the past I created affiliate marketing sites and drove traffic to them with every SEO trick in the book (most of the “tricks” not worth the bits and bytes they were written with). While I made the sites initially to push affiliate products I soon started earning “easy” money from adsense. My whole goal changed to getting traffic in to the site and out through my adsense ads. I quickly learned that I was most successful when people saw my snippet in Google and thought my content would provide what they were looking for but really didn’t. Visitors arriving at the sites would make me most money if they quickly left. My efforts switched from good content to good advertising placement. From quality traffic to maximum traffic. At the point where I peaked in earnings was when I felt the worst about what I was doing.
Writing was what I had got into producing my own websites for. I enjoyed the creativity of it and the feedback I got from people enjoying what I wrote. It wasn’t all bad, I still wrote articles for magazines and online publications, but it still nagged at me that my websites were dangerously approaching spam.
We don’t want spammy blogs do we?
If you follow our advice on metrics you will have installed an adsense tracking script so you can see which pages get the most adsense clicks and where the traffic comes from that converts best. Look at your stats and you will probably see what I do. The majority of your adsense-clicking traffic will be from search engines. You are earning most from turning your site into a revolving door. I don’t know about you but I want to produce valuable blogs. I’m starting to think adsense might be bad for bloggers.
So what’s the answer?
I don’t want to be a profit of doom, it’s more in my nature to be positive so presumably I have an answer?
Actually I do but it’s not easy.
I think we as bloggers who care about quality need to wean ourselves off the GoogleCrack. OK, I don’t mean cold-turkey, and no need to remove it entirely. Just as we don’t agree with building your blog with search engines in mind I think building your blog with adsense in mind might be just as detrimental. Again though, I don’t advocate removing search engine traffic, I don’t advocate removing adsense completely.
The solution seems to me for you to find an income stream that goes against the turnstyle philosophy and fits more with the ideals of a content creator. What revenue can you produce from long term, loyal, motivated fans, rather than transient here today gone tomorrow search visitors?
Going back to my affiliate sites has the answer. The times I made most from affiliate schemes was when I posted good, useful content that customers used to make purchasing decisions. People would buy from newsletters and reviews. Often they would have to see these product mentions several times, they must have been repeat visitors.
I know I have mentioned it before but I think ebooks and other content products are a natural fit, and probably the best bet for writers. It’s a natural progression for a visitor to enjoy your content and then upsell to buying your premium content.
What do you think?
I might feel differently tomorrow, although I doubt it. You might have had similar thoughts already or you might disagree with me. I would be really interested in your thoughts on this, is adsense bad for blogs?
Author: Chris Garrett
Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.
That would work chello, but only once you have used adsense or an alternative to work out what works and what doesnt and which advertisers would be interested in your content?
This post made me think about my old days working in television, there were two types of animals in that jungle; the purist who was in TV to make great pictures and build a life in the industry vs the salesperson moneymaker who saw a chance to make gazillions. The purist was about art and the moneymaker was about filling 30 second holes in the air to make lots of money. One saw the other’s work as a “neccessary evil”.
So the use of ads on your site or blog is simply a matter of perspective. If you are motivated to purely make cash, you will look for the sucker traffic at the expense of depth. If you are into the spirit and art only, you will make something cool but will probably go broke.
If you are making a site to get a message out there and need to make money, balance is the key.
If you are just out to suck visitors in and use the web community to get rich a few cents at a time, you won’t loose a minute’s sleep or even be reading this blog!
My advice . . . put the ads on, put in heaps! But remember the pure reason you sweated over the content, that’s why the people are on your site. If you make a fortune from that, you will be truly fulfilled.
I whack a heap of advertising on the BuderimCommunity site but maintain value in the content so I can sleep at night ;-).
I have to admit that I am one of those people who came in here and believed this place was “advice for spam blogs” BUT this is an enlightened useful post indeed.
Chris – I used to have adsense all over my blogs and now I have minimized it to just 4 text links that I force myself to forget about.
Anyhow, in forcing myself to not think about income I notice my hollow dead zone blogs are coming alive again and my creativity is growing. Today I do not blog for money, that will come later. What I blog for is to learn what fuels the machine (search engines). Though I may be blogging about environmental stuff and hobby stuff this is my education, a self education, and it is fun.
The idea of thousands of paid writers blogging for dollars by loading the engines with content still makes me a bit ill. Stick with what drives your passion, you can not lose in this and the engines will surely reward you if you are patient and alert, even IF they are driven by stupid robots.
Chris … I love your style. And this is your best post to date.
Don’t readers of blogs realise …
Damn you readers, don’t hang around and waste my bandwidth – just click on the AdSense ads I’ve plastered all over the place … don’t you get it, I want your pennies 🙂
You’re starting to think adsense might be bad for bloggers – I’ve been evolving into that view for quite a while now. At last, someone with some clout and cajones says what I believe, deep down, many are starting to realize.
I see this as a fundamental dichotomy that applies to all sites, and I’ve observed this long before blogs, and long before AdSense:
1. 10% of your readers love your site, visit regularly, and recommend it to others. They rarely click on ads.
2. 90% of your readers arrived from a search that may only be tangentially related to your site. They aren’t likely to visit again, but they click on ads.
The percentages aren’t always the same, but I’ve seen this on every single site I run. I consider it fundamentally a good thing: the 90% are subsidizing the site for the 10%. I focus on making a great site for the 10%, and the 90% come anyway and click on ads.
1. Find a way to make money from the 10%–this is what Chris talked about above. Tip jars, memberships, selling T-shirts or merchandise. It’s not likely to make you as much money as the 90% are, but ideally it will protect you from the chaos of the ad market.
2. Change the percentages–make the 10% higher and the 90% lower. This is actually far more difficult than it sounds, but if you’ve got a site with different percentages – like 99% search traffic and 1% regulars – you need to work on getting more regulars.
3. Work on moving people from the 90% into the 10%. This means making every page a good introduction to your site, and including some sticky links (related articles, most popular articles, etc.) to get people interested. I’ve found this doesn’t change the percentages – as more people join the 10%, you get more search traffic in the 90%. But I see that as a good thing.
I see this 90/10 split as unavoidable with nearly every site, whether you use advertising or not–it’s a fact of the search engine economy. If you acknowledge this and work with it, you can succeed.
Also: if you created the site to make money, or if you’re writing to make money, you’re doomed. Find a topic you actually LIKE writing about, and develop a community (that 10%) you ENJOY writing to and working with, and you’ll do much better in the long term.