Learn how to increase AdSense income from your WordPress based site with AdSense Success mobile optimization techniques. Here I will discuss the options that are available for WP sites and blogs that easily allow you to place ads in the right places and the right ad unit sizes.
Read Time: 10 Minutes (Potential Mobile Income Increase: 50-100%)
How mobile website optimized for AdSense should work
This is the demo video of my WP Adsense theme, where I show the responsive design, automatically displaying Mobile ad units (without Google’s responsive ads), AB testing, etc.
And here is Theme DEMO – test it out on Mobile and Desktop!
Its the age of mobile – get your $*it (ahm… site) together!
It’s been over a year since “Mobilegeddon” and many website owners have switched to mobile optimized sites. Since I made the switch, I have seen some of my sites’ mobile traffic spike over 65%!
To check if your website is mobile friendly, you can use Google’s tool here.
Traffic stats above indicate 2016 Desktop/Mobile traffic ratio for a website that I purchased on Flippa.
So the big question is – How do you make more MONEY from your smartphone visitors?
First, the results will be different for everyone, and will depend on many factors, such as site content, speed, language, visitor location, CPC, ads displayed, etc. In my case, after continuously optimizing and testing, I have been able to achieve a 60% growth in Mobile RPM (revenue per 1000 visitors).
What this means – before (January 2016) I was making $1.00 for every 1000 people that viewed my site on their smartphone. Now (July 2016), I am getting $1.60 for every 1000 visitors. So if my traffic remained the same – I am earning 60% more per visitor! Increase in traffic will further increase revenue, at an accelerated rate. See screenshot below.
As you can see there is a definite upward trend in Mobile RPM, while Desktop RPM stayed relatively stable, with small ups and downs. But the most important thing here – MOBILE RPM is now almost the same as Desktop, which was unheard of 2 years ago! This means that users are clicking more on mobile ads and cost-per-click is going up! See the CPC growth graph.
As you can see – the fundamentals are in place – Mobile Traffic, Cost Per Click and RPM are going up. It is now up to publishers to capitalize on the trend!
So to grow you mobile income you need:
- Properly designed mobile website
- Proper ad placement
- Optimal ad sizes for Mobile Devices
- Split-Test or AB Test different combinations to find what sizes and locations work best for you
One more thing – remove ALL unnecessary elements from the mobile version of your site, if you don’t need people to click on them or otherwise interact with them. The best examples of such elements would be SLIDERS, Top Search Bars, other images, Popups, etc.
What are the best locations for Mobile Ad units?
In my experience (this is what I do) the best locations are:
- Under the page title
- In the body of the content, but closer to the top.
- Below the content (just in case).
Most mobile visitors who come to your site will look at page title, read a little, and will most likely leave.
Smartphone users are always in a rush. Either they are going somewhere, or get a call/text message, or they are just browsing to kill time, or they are talking to someone at the same time. So chances that they will read your entire post are very slim.
This is why the two primary locations for ad units are top of the page and a few paragraphs below the top. Very few people will ever see the bottom of your page. If you don’t believe me, put a visitor session recording on your mobile site and see what exactly people are doing!
What is a “mobile” visitor?
For the sake of simplicity – it is ANY smartphone visitor. So in order to optimize your website for mobile users, you need to carefully consider how your website layout looks on different mobile devices.
If you analyze mobile device data, you will discover that the Number # 1 device on the list is the iPhone. Unfortunately, Google does not specify the model, but by just knowing that it is the iPhone we know that we need to work on optimizing our site for the users of this device.
Let’s look at the stats below – iPhone has 41% share of all mobile traffic. Everything else (with exception of the iPad, which I do not consider “mobile”, is an Android device – does not matter who the manufacturer is. In the Top 10 chart below, the last 7 positions are different Samsung devices, but for our purposes they are MOBILE Android visitors!
Note – Windows Mobile and BlackBerry have such a negligible market share that A) we do not need to worry about them, and B) They work the same way as Android (as far as mobile browsers are concerned).
So what do we take from the chart above, AND from my personal experience:
ALWAYS optimize for iPhone – all others will work just fine!
As much as I dislike iPhones (personal preference) we cannot ignore 41% of mobile visitors. If your site looks great on Android, but terrible on iPhone – you lose almost half of your potential earnings!
How to Optimize WP Mobile Site and AdSense for iPhone – Technical details and screen DPI :
So many people do not think about it, but I’ve learned the hard way, and lost probably several $1000s by not properly optimizing my sites. We actually only need to consider one device, or better yet, one screen size / DPI.
Our target is to make our Site and Ads look good on iPhone 5, which has screen width of 320PX.
This is the magic number, which is proven by Google’s default Mobile Banner ad size of 320x100px. This ad unit was designed to take up the entire width of the iPhone 5 screen.
Therefore, we need to base our WordPress theme and Ad unit sizes on 320px screen width. All other mobile devices with them make our site look “good”.
My AdSense WP theme automatically detects a mobile visitor, and shows the appropriate Mobile Friendly ad, instead of a desktop ad (here I mead Ad Size).
For example, if you have a 728×90 ad unit at the top, and you show that to a mobile visitor, your site will look completely out-of-whack. So I show two different ad sizes on the fly, depending on visitor type.
What are the options for mobile WordPress theme / site layout:
There are several options for a mobile friendly WP site, ranging from Plugins with dedicated themes, to Responsive themes, to everything in between.
I first got concerned about being mobile friendly about 4 years ago after reading a slideshare presentation on responsive / mobile optimized website design. So I began learning how to convert my then DESKTOP ONLY site into a responsive one.
Back then, my mobile traffic was about 15% so I didn’t much care, but it was growing and I became concerned.
Here is how my “mobile friendly” WP experience evolved.
1st Mobile-Friendly WP Attempt:
When I first decided to go “mobile friendly”, I purchased this plugin – WPTouch. Oh what a pain in the @$$ it was to use. But I eventually managed to “learn” it and started to place ads in the right places. This was 3-4 years ago.
Then WPTouch updated to a new version (I think version 3), and everything went ape-shit! I could no longer inject my ads in the right places – even when I manually modified theme code, ads would not show. So I said F-this and started looking for an alternative.
I spent $75 on the PRO version of this crappy plugin, and another $50 to “upgrade” to version 3 – what a waste of time and money.
Bottom line – I DON’T RECOMMEND WPTouch!
2nd Mobile-Friendly WP Attempt:
Next, I found an AMAZING mobile friendly theme, that was part of a plugin that I already used. The theme is Minileven, and it is part of a JetPack plugin, which does not need an introduction. To get it to work, all you need is to install JetPack and activate “Mobile Theme” in settings.
This time I went into theme’s HTML / PHP / CSS code, and made sure my ads appeared where I wanted them to. I made a custom version of the theme, with modified CSS (styles), and removed all unnecessary parts.
The problem with this approach – most people do not know HTML / PHP / CSS, so this would work for only 2-3% of webmasters out there. I for one have been tinkering with theme code for many years, so it wasn’t difficult.
Another HUGE problem with Minileven is that EVERY time you update JetPack plugin, theme files get overwritten / reset. So ALL you customizations are lost. I learned this the hard way, when I had to redo my coding, after losing all my customizations in an update, and not having a backup of theme files. I also lost about $300-400 by not knowing that my modified Minileven theme was overwritten by stock files.
Note – JetPack / Minileven do not support “child theme”.
So to cope with this problem I created a backup for this theme, for every site that I have – like 20 versions of it. Every time I would update my JetPack, I would then go into FTP and upload theme files. This is a massive pain, but considering that with a modified version of Minileven, I increased my “mobile earnings” by 10 times, it was very much worth it!
If you don’t want to create a custom designed website, but want mobile presence, and know a little HTML / CSS, I recommend starting with Minileven.
Responsive WordPress Themes:
Practically EVERY them in the WordPress.org theme directory, that was made in last 3-4 years is responsive! The problem here is that 99% of these themes are “freemium” versions, that have either limited functions, or creator branding, or are too complex.
Most themes out there do not fit the needs of an AdSense publisher and are not AdSense friendly. They may look good, but in my opinion they have too many “nice” looking, but useless elements.
So my approach was to find the simplest, yet nice looking theme, strip out unnecessary code, and manually inject (place) my ads in the right spots. This worked well for desktop visitors, while all mobile visitors were seeing my Minileven theme.
However, after getting sick of dealing with JetPack updates that deleted my custom theme, and having two themes for every site, and NEEDING FTP access to make ANY change to Minileven, I decided that enough is enough, and set out to find / create my perfect theme!
Problems related to AdSense and Responsive themes: Another problem with Responsive designs – you can inject ads (hardcoded) only in the beginning or the end of page content.
Mobile Friendly WP Plugins:
As I mentioned above – stay away from WPTouch.
With that out-of-the-way – the only mobile plugin that I personally use, and recommend is Mobile Smart. This plugin lets you CHOOSE separate theme for desktop and mobile visitors.
I use Mobile Smart on sites which I have not (and probably WILL NOT) migrate to my own AdSense theme, because there is TOO much custom code to port over. I use this plugin in conjunction with Minileven, to eliminate JetPack from overwriting my theme files, every time it updates.
Also, this allows me to modify theme code inside WP Theme Editor, instead on using text editor and upload via FTP.
Another option that you have with this plugin is to use “mobile” theme for iPad and other tablets, which otherwise show desktop version.
PS – I use the free version of the plugin, since I do a lot of custom coding myself. If you don’t code, you should consider a PRO version upgrade.
My Responsive WP Theme requirements (with regard to AdSense monetization)
Here is my list of what a responsive theme should do for ME:
- Have one theme (one code-base) for both Desktop and Mobile users.
- Have one set of ads for Desktop, and another set for Mobile visitors.
- Show appropriate ads based on device.
- Show proper ads based on USER-AGENT (this is how my Mobile user detection works).
- Easily run AB tests for EACH ad placement, to increase RPM.
- Easily insert ads ANYWHERE in theme design or in content, with a SHORTCODE.
- Be free from any unnecessary “flashy” elements that distract user from clicking ads.
- Easily add custom PHP code ANYWHERE in page content (more on this later).
How did I get this ideal theme?
I found a programmer in Serbia, and had him create a theme for me – a basic, clean design, that was easy to read, and would make ads stand out. The key is to have users click Google Ads naturally.
I also had custom code added for me to insert ads with a simple SHORT-CODE wherever I needed it.
Next, I added a script that would detect a Mobile User Agent, and show the appropriate ad.
For AB testing, I am using a simple PHP “shuffle” command, and make it show different variations of ads, equal number of times. This is how I learn which ads perform better to increase my earnings.
On top of these features, I’ve added a custom POPUP script for non-AdSense sites. I use this for Lead Generation, Facebook likes, etc.
The end result – a completely Mobile Friendly WP Theme optimized for AdSense and Conversions!
After years of experimenting, I now have my own theme that outperformed EVERY stock theme that I’ve tested over the years.
This theme is very easy to manage, and I can run any test on it, as well insert additional ads, such as Amazon affiliate program, Lead Generation, Email List Sign-ups, Social Sharing, etc.
All these experiments and testing, allowed me to earn over $300,000 on AdSense alone – 70% of it in the past 3 years!
That is correct – I’ve earned over $210,000 on Adsense since Jan 1, 2013 or an average of $70,000 / year.
Image above shows combined AdSense earnings, sorted by PLATFORM, for my personal and my wife’s accounts form 1/1/2013 to 7/13/2016.
What should you do to make your WP site mobile friendly:
As I discussed in the section on mobile options for WP, you can (and probably should) use Minileven theme + Mobile Smart plugin, with some light optimization / coding.
You can also have a custom coded theme developed by a freelancer (outsourced developer). I prefer programmers from Eastern Europe over Asia, due to poor personal experience. I now ONLY hire freelancers on Upwork. I also STRONGLY recommend that you stay away from freelancer.com (horrible company)!
It would cost about $50-150 to have a custom theme developed, but you need to be VERY clear in your requirements for the theme’s appearance and functionality. Also, it’s very likely that a “custom developed” theme will be a re-branded free theme from WP.org
Lastly (or first and foremost) I recommend my own AdSense optimized WP Theme, which I will make available very soon (I plan to sell my theme for $75).
Why do I recommend my own theme?
If you are thinking to “make money” you are only partially correct. I would mostly recommend it because the benefit of using my theme GREATLY outweighs its cost, by saving you a lot of time and more money that you would spend creating or searching for an alternative.
If I was looking for a mobile wp theme that would help me improve my mobile earnings by 20% or more, I would buy my own theme in a heartbeat!
Think about the benefits:
Let’s say you now earn $100 from mobile visitors per month. If you start earning $120, you will recoup your “investment” of $75 in 3.5 months
If you make $300 / month and go to $360, you recoup your money if just 37 days.
However, based on my observations – the increase in revenue should be much greater than 20%. This is because 99% of Adsense sites have VERY POOR mobile optimization!
In any case – there are many options to go with – I wish you all great AdSense earnings!