Most bloggers lose ad revenue, because their ads are not optimized. Are you struggling with putting AdSense on your blog? Do you use a free WordPress plugin for AdSense, or Auto Ads, and feel like your websites should earn more?

The reality is – most bloggers “lose” as much as 50% of their potential Adsense income! Your website / blog could earn a lot more, if it was properly optimized.

A typical blogger spends all their time on producing content, doing marketing, social sharing, etc., and at the end of the day, does not have energy or time to spend on ad optimization. I know this first had, as I spent years doing 3-5 blog posts per week, with ~1500 words each, and working full-time in my business.

However, with good optimization, you can easily improve your site’s ad revenue by at least 50%, and 2-3x is not unheard of! And you can do ALL of it, typically within 3-4 hours!

If you follow the steps outlined in this guide, you will see a significant boost in ad revenue! In my experience, increasing website ad earnings by 70-130% is an average occurrence!

If you apply all the secrets described below, you can expect a 2-3 times increase in earnings, reduction in bounce rates, and higher overall user satisfaction for visiting your website!

Read: Making money by blogging with Adsense – complete guide on setting up Google ads on your website.

Doubling your Blog’s AdSense Earnings is Easy!

In screenshots above you can see the effects of optimizing ad placements, and page design elements, resulting in 128.7% increase in revenue per 1000 page views (RPM)!

Follow the 11 secrets that I’ve used to increase my websites’ revenue by two-fold or more. Spend the time to understand what needs to be done and why, and I can guarantee that you will see a significant improvement!

It will take some work from you, but I believe that spending 3-10 hours (one time) is worth a lifetime of increased revenue.Β  When your traffic increase, your ads will already be optimized, and you will see exponential returns!

Lifetime Website Adsense earnings

A typical blogger spends all their time on producing content, doing marketing, social sharing, etc., and at the end of the day, does not have energy or time to spend on ad optimization. I know this first had, as I spent years doing 3-5 blog posts per week, with ~1500 words each, and working full-time in my business.

However, with good optimization, you can easily improve your site’s ad revenue by at least 50%, and 2-3x is not unheard of! And you can do ALL of it, within 3-4 hours!

The trick here is to know what to optimize, and use the right tools! Naturally I recommend using my AdSense Plugin (if your blog is using WordPress) – however, you can do it all without the plugin – it will just take few extra hours of one-time work (full details below).

That said, here is how you can “instantly” boost your ad revenue:

1) Ads Above the Fold Earn More than Any Other Ad Placement!

I ran AdSense reports for over 20 of my blogs (40+ million ad impressions in the last few months), and they all show the same trend:

  • Above the fold ads outperform “in-content” ads by 2:1 margin
  • Above the fold ads outperform “after-content” ads by 3:1 margin

Ad revenue share by placement on website

What this means – a single ad above the fold, can bring in the same about of revenue as multiple ads below fold. I typically run 2 ads inside content, and one after content.

The conclusion here: You should put most emphasis on how well your top ad is optimized, and to remove as many distractions as possible.

A downside of above the fold ad placements, is that your time-on-page MAY go down slightly, as some people may be inclined to leave your site before they get to read it.

However, the way I see it – they were probably going to leave ANYWAY, so why not make some income for yourself in the process? πŸ™‚

2) Responsive Ads don’t work as well as you think

2 years ago I bought a website that had primarily mobile traffic and was using responsive ads everywhere. I replaced those with fixed size ads and doubled my revenue instantly.

The problem with Responsive ads – they show ads based on HIGHEST AdWords Bid (or highest Cost-per-Click / CPC), without regard for ad format.

There are certainly other algorithmic adjustments that determine which ads show, but overall, the responsive ads typically show an ad size that is LESS LIKELY to be clicked (for some weird reason)…

I used a simple PHP script, to display one ad size for Desktop users, and another ad size for Mobile users. This way I did not have to rely on Google’s automatic ad size adjustment.

You can use this script yourself (link at the end of this post). However, it requires some modifications to your website code, which many bloggers will be uncomfortable doing.

So to make things easy for myself and other bloggers, I’ve incorporated this feature into my plugin for WordPress, which I created to manage ads on all of my sites, and have recently made it available for the public.

PRO TIP: In my latest test (which is still running, and I will publish the results at the end of August 2018), I can already see that Fixed ads outperform Responsive ads on DESKTOP by 4.6 to 1 margin!

That is right – if you make $1000/mo with a responsive ad on desktop, you could be making $4600/month by switching to fixed size ad!

Google Responsive vs Fixed Size Ad types

I’m not exactly sure about mobile, as there were some anomalies in the test (several very high CPC clicks), which skew the current results, and require longer test period.

The takeaway here – figure out a way to use two fixed ads in the same placement, instead of relying on Google’s responsive ads. You can use my (paid) plugin, or the free script, but you should definitely do this ASAP, if you want to increase your earnings!

3) Don’t use Google Auto Ads

It’s very tempting to use Auto Ads – “place one piece of code on your website, and Google does the rest”. Sure it works, just like that. But in my testing, placing the ads on the website yourself, will likely improve your revenue by at least 30% (my result was 61% increase, but my site & ad placements are heavily optimized).

Auto Ads Experiment - Total earnings bar graph

Besides the obvious higher ad earnings, there is another factor. Auto Ads places ads randomly, wherever Google’s AI deems appropriate. That makes your site looks “pretty bad” to say the least.

Additionally, my clients have experienced a strange behavior, where half of their pages where not showing ads at all!

Lastly, if you are selling a product or service on your site, where you don’t want ads to appear above the fold, and want the ads to just capture traffic that’s about to leave anyway, you cannot control that behavior with Auto Ads.

4) Don’t use Link Ad Units

Link ads typically have “higher” CPC than Text/Image ads. However, they require a “double-click” to make you any money. What that means – user clicks once, and then sees a confirmations – something like “Are you sure you want to click this ad?”

Google does this to prevent “accidental” clicks, because Link ads often look very similar to site navigation or links inside your content. Also, many publishers will place link ads, where they confuse a site visitor into thinking, that it’s an actual “link”.

As a result, while Link ads have higher cost per click (CPC), their click-through-rate is MUCH lower.

And I think link ads just look completely ugly πŸ™‚

ugly AdSense Link Ad Unit

5) Test different ad sizes / formats / colors

I’ve been doing AB Testing (split testing) for the past 4 years! As a result, I now have a pretty good idea what works better. But I still test some new variables, on continuous basis (see tip #2 about responsive ads).

Using these AB tests, I was able to figure out that a particular ad size makes 138% more money, compared to the one I’ve used from 2008 through the end of 2015!

That means that I probably lost over $40,000-60,000 over several years, just because I did not test!

The main mantra of CRO (conversion rate optimization) experts: ALWAYS TEST! AdSense optimization is in essence CRO. The conversion here is the “click”.

To find out which ad work better, it’s best to have to ad types, split-tested (50/50) against each other, in the same position. Run the test for 2 weeks or a month OR if you have high traffic website – 50,000-100,000 ad impressions.

After you complete the test, you should have a clear winner. Use the winning ad size/format going forward, and earn more!

You can always try another ad size to the test, and compare it against the winner of your first experiment.

How to AB Test AdSense:

There is a million ways you can test it, but most of them are not very efficient. I will provide a few tools (for WordPress) that I have used in the past for AB testing.

PRO TIP:Β AB Testing is a core part of our WP plugin – we use ab testing extensively, and this feature helped us earn at least $10000 extra in the past year alone, as well as save over 90 hours – time that we would otherwise waste on setting up experiments manually!

Here is how easy it is to set up AB testing with Ads Ninja plugin (Variant A is a control version, whereas Variant B is the one you test):

AdSense Ninja Plugin - AB Test Settings

However, not all blogs/sites run on WordPress. Also our plugin is not free, so some bloggers may not want to buy it (which is fine) πŸ™‚

Still, it is actually fairly simple to create a test yourself, completely, using simple PHP functions ( don’t get scared here πŸ™‚ ), and integrate it into your WP Theme. That is exactly how I did it between 2014 and 2016, which is when I started developing my plugin. The only issue with custom AB tests – immense amount of time that you will need to spend on setting it up.

The way it works is so: You take a random number between 1 and 2. If the number is 1, you show variant A. Else, if number is 2, you show variant B.

Very simple – here is the PHP code:

if (rand(1,2)==1)
   { echo 'Show ad A'; }
else
   { echo 'Show ad B'; }

Now what I did is create ad files inside my WP theme folder (like ab-test-ad-a.php) and instead of echo 'Show ad A';, I did include 'ab-test-ad-a.php';

Then you would simply place this code in the template file for single post or page, above OR below the_content(); function, and what user would see was a rotating ad above or below article text!

If you are scared of PHP / Coding (which most people are), you can use free AB testing plugins. But then you would have to either place plugin short-code on every page / post of your blog, or just on pages that you want to test.

Modifying the Theme template (or using my AdSense Ninja plugin) allows you to run these test on ALL posts or ALL pages, without editing each post separately!

Another issue with putting short-code on every page/post is this: What happens if you want/have to remove those shortcodes (ads)? You will have to go back to each post and fix it. Imaging that you have 200 posts πŸ™‚

Bottom line – displaying your ads on all posts/pages automatically is much more convenient that doing it manually.

6) Use White Background and Classic AdSense color scheme

There is a reason why 99% all books are printed on white paper, using black(ish) ink. It’s the easiest color scheme for humans to read for prolonged periods of time.

All my blogs use white background, and yours should as well. Don’t just take my word for it – Brandon Gaille (the legit blog millionaire) who is also using Adsense, along with other revenue streams, covered this topic in numerous blog posts and podcasts, and we completely agree on white!

And so does Google, Twitter, Facebook, NY Times, etc.

If I come to a site with black background, my eyes begin to hurt within 3 minutes. As a matter of habit and principal, i leave these sites immediately (unless it has some REALLY important info).

So use white(ish) background for your main text section, with matching BG color in your ads. Make the transition from text smooth and unnoticeable – it will result in more ad clicks!

Google AdSense - Classic Color Scheme

I also use the classic color scheme on ALL my ads – white background, blue Link color, black text, and green URL color. However, in the past 3-4 years, Google has been largely ignoring this setting, and applying their default link/url colors, and automatically testing them.

I suppose I keep doing it as a matter of habit, while hoping, that google will some day resume displaying the “classic” style. I feel that in the old days, these classic ads were making more money. πŸ™‚

7) Don’t use borders on your ads

In various tests that I and other “adsensers” have conducted, ads with borders performed as much as 50% worse that identical ads, but without borders!

AdSense Ad Unit With Border - Low CTR

In fact, I believe that Google has been ignoring the Border Ad Style (just like they’ve been ignoring “classic” ad style) in the last few years, because their internal data shows how poorly the border ads perform in Click Through Rate.

Keep in mind that border style has no effect on AdWords bid, so advertisers would bay the same, for a click or bordered OR borderless ad unit, granted that all other factors are equal.

Therefore it is the visual style that deters users from clicking on these ads. Hence lower overall earnings are a result of lower CTR!

8) Remove distractions from your site, to increase CTR

Just like in case with border ad styles, on-site distractions deter visitors from click the ads. This causes lower CTR, and lower earnings.

Distractions themselves do not affect cost per click (CPC). It’s the ad position, page/site content, and current bids that make CPC low or high.

Yet most blogs (especially WordPress based), will have post meta (date, author, comments count, etc), along with gigantic social buttons, and often a CLICKABLE featured image.

Now your best performing ad is competing with 3 extra elements on page, which are completely useless at this stage.

On top of that, these useless distractions actually push the ad BELOW THE FOLD, which severely reduces the likelihood of ad being clicked!

Here is a random website that I found for sale on Flippa.com. This site has immense waste of screen space. THe only ads above the fold are HEADER ad, and SIDEBAR ad, which both get VERY POOR conversions!

Why are these elements useless?

1) Meta can be put after content, and only readers who care to know the publish date, author or comments count, will look for it. To others, it’s just a waste of screen space.

2) Clickable featured image, usually will just open that image in a new tab – what is the site owner’s benefit for that??? Even if featured image is not clickable, most of the time it will take 30-50% of screen height, not convey any important message, and just be there, because “everyone else is doing it :/

3) Social share buttons are “important”, although I find them utterly ineffective – I’ve never seen them increase my social engagements in any significant manner.

At the same time, user just came to your site – they don’t even know if they like it. Do you think they will share it right away, just because you put these buttons up top? Yea, I doubt it.

Bottom line – bloggers populate the ever-so-important above the fold space with useless things, and then go like “why am i making so little money? Adsense sucks!” … Well duh?! Clean up your site – you should see at least 25% boost, just from doing that alone.

Now think about it. Lets say your site makes $1000/mo. You increase that by 25%, and it now makes $1250/mo ($250 if free extra income just because you spent one hour cleaning things up). That is $3000/year.

Imagine your site is earning $5000/mo – do the math πŸ™‚

However fewer clicks occur, because site visitor who is “on the verge” of clicking an ad, glances at some flashy element, or a meaningless link, and doesn’t do the what’s necessary ( clicking ads of course πŸ™‚ ).

As we discussed in the first and most important secret of improving Adsense revenue – ads above the fold make most money for the majority for sites.

9) Optimize Mobile Page Layout

Just like on Desktop, unnecessary element on mobile also distract users for reading your content, clicking on ads :), and ruin the UX/UI overall. However, I feel like on mobile, these distractions have a much greater impact.

Mobile site users are very speed conscious, always in a hurry (the need answers right away), are more sensitive space wasting page elements, and are much more likely to leave your site, if they can’t find an answer within 5 seconds.

At the same time I see more and more site owners, overloading users with Locations sharing requests (why???), Site Notification prompts, full screen popups & Cookie policy agreements, on top of the above mentioned Post Meta, Feature Images, and above the fold share buttons.

I personally just leave the sites that bug me with all this garbage. I just need to read 5 sentences of text, to get what I’m looking for.

Therefore it is crucial to not only rid your site of the items mentioned in secret #8, but also make it simple and easy for mobile users to get the info they want, and have them click an ad, while they are on your site (or do any other conversion that you strive for).

Fortunately it’s not difficult to clean up the mobile version of tour site, since most themes today are responsive, and by cleaning up desktop site, you do the same on mobile!

And your impact will be noticeable immediately, AND in a big way. With average site traffic creeping onto 60% of total, improving mobile income by 100%, will increase your overall site revenue by 50-70% with very little work.

10) Use Rectangle ads instead of horizontal banner

Rectangle ads perform as much as 137% better than horizontal banners. I am not sure what the exact reason is. I think it’s a combination of larger ad size and higher CPC bids from advertisers, that increase overall income from rectangular/square ads.

AdSense Rectangle vs Horizontal Banner

However your SHOULD test this! In some of my experiments, I’ve seen virtually no difference between the two. In other test, difference is about 45-50% (which is still incredible).

I am also curious about Auto Ads in-article ads that are 700×200 pixels. The width here is flexible, and is derived from the width of your content. The 200 px height make these units use a combination Image + Text format, which looks very attractive to me.

I want to test this “custom” ad size. However I’m afraid that non-standard size lowers ad inventory, and Google’s AI may not provide the Image+Text format that I want 100% of the time.

11) Use Text + Display ad types

If you look at the chart below, you will see that over some period of time, TEXT ads have made 48.5% of total income across all my websites, while only being shown 26.8% of the time (ad impressions). In rough terms we can say that Text ads RPM is double that of Display ads. It is true for virtually all adsense publishers, and you should check your statistics to confirm this.

So naturally, you will want to disable display ads, and make all your ads TEXT-ONLY. I did try it, and don’t recommend doing it :).

As soon as I disabled the display ads, my overall RPM went down by about 20%. Reason for this, is how AdWords bidding works. Text ads have highest CPC, and second highest CTR (first, if we exclude the minuscule number of Flash ads).

However if you disable display ads all together, your 2nd/3rd bids will be much lower, and it will affect the overall RPM negatively.

Now as always, I suggest you test this! It is possible to set up a test where 50% of all your ads are Text-only, and other 50% are Text + Display ads. After you run such test for at least 100,000 ad impressions (for each ad variable) you will know what works better for you.

It is a particularly painful (difficult) test to set up. While you can use my plugin to independently test each ad placement, I feel that running both at the same time will affect on-page ad inventory.

The best way to test this, is to have 2 separate site versions – one with only text ads, and second one with display+text ads, and make sure that you do not show both types at the same time.

This is how I ran my auto ads experiment – all the setup details are included in there.

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Use an AdSense Plugin that is designed for More Clicks (not more features)

I suggest that you skip the free plugins found in WordPress plugins directory. If they did the job, I would hot need to suffer with ad placement for years and would not have developed my own plugin!

The “free” plugins are made by (mostly good) WP developers, but lack the knowledge of AdSense optimization for conversions (more ad clicks). As a result you lose AdSense revenue, due to poor placement low Click-Through-Rates (CTR).

Of course you can (and should) try them out – I want you to know the difference πŸ™‚

However, by using them long-term, you will be leaving money on the table (losing as much as 50% or more of your potential AdSense earnings).

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Some FREE WP Plugins that I do recommend (and use myself):

Mobile Smart – free WP plugin that allows you to set a desktop and mobile theme for your site, based on visitor’s device type. I still use this plugin on my main non-adsense sites, to display different layouts/designs for different devices.

Them mobile theme I use is Minileven (included in WP JetPack plugin). You can extract Minileven from JetPack zip file.

If you install JetPack, Minileven will be located in /wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/minileven/theme/pub/minileven folder.

Optionally you can download this zip file, and just install it as a regular WP theme. Then use Mobile Smart to set Minileven ad your default mobile theme. Later I will provide an AdSense-optimized version of Minileven!


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1 Comment

  1. Wow, Great Article.
    I am new in the field of blogging and Adsense. I started a blog couple of weeks ago and researching about Adsense and things like that.
    This has given me a whole new information regarding how can I increase my ad revenue.
    Once I apply for Adsense I will definitely follow these steps.
    Thank you.
    Cheers

    Reply

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