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Optimising Your Adsense Click-Thru Rate With Different Colours

A Simple Change That Can Increase You Adsense Revenue

Orginal Adsense ColoursThe colour of your adsense ads, compared with the background colour of your website, can greatly effect the click-thru rate and earnings per click of your account.

Before we start looking at different colour combinations a brief discussion of what we are trying to achieve, and how we think our website visitors we react to the color of our adverts is necessary, as it's not quite as simple as it first seems.

Our goal to earn more from Google's Adsense programme, and if we're just looking at how we can increase that revenue on individual pages, rather than increasing overall visitors or adding more pages, there are two ways of doing it, or a combination of both. We can increase the number of visitors who click our ads per page, and / or we can increase the cost we get per click.

Lets take the first example, increasing the number of visitors who click on our ads per page. We have to do this in a way that will benefit our advertisers - if you try to trick your visitors into clicking ads, by making them click by mistake, they will not convert when they reach the advertisers site, so in the long run your earnings per click will go down, because the ads on your site will not "convert" well. Google has many ways of detecting this, and it is also against the Adsense TOS, so you may end up getting banned from the programme as well.

New Adsense ColourExamples of Adsense trickery could be changing the code so that the ads appear part of your navigation, or making your navigation look identical to the ads so that visitors get confused, or by having no way to leave the page unless by clicking on the ads. These sort of sites may make some money in the short-term, but in the longer term they will get banned or "smart priced" where Google decides that the ads on your pages aren't worth much money at all, and your earnings take a nose dive.

The second example is to increase the cost per click. We do this by attracting advertisers that are bidding higher values for their Adwords Campaign, which translates into higher earnings for us. So we write pages on specific subjects that are normally about things that people pay a lot of money for. The higher priced the item, and the more popular it is, the higher priced clicks we will get. It can also help to funnel your content more, so it is more targeted. This will lead to browsers coming to your page for specific information about a specific item, which means that if they see an ad they're interested in, when they click it they will be more likely to convert at the other site, which will lead to higher earnings per click.

The downside to going after high-earning clicks is that there is a lot of competition out there for those visitors, so you may find it difficult to get ranked well in the Search Engines to attract those visitors in the first place.

The simplest way to increase your Adsense earnings per click to to use the Competitive Ad filter, where you choose not to display ads from certain sites, usually MFA's, Amazon & eBay, as these pay lower, leaving room for higher bidding sites. To use the filter you'll need the Adsense preview tool, you can't click on your own ads!, then you have to manually add their URL's into your Adsense account, and at this time you only get space for 200, so regular maintenance is required.

Right, back to the colors of our ads. Ads that are blended nicely into the colour scheme of your page keep it looking professional, but may fool visitors into clicking ads by mistake, increasing your number of clicks, but over time making those clicks worth less and less. Unless of course the visitors to your page are so highly targeted that the content matches the ads very well, so that by clicking on the ads and visiting another site they are likely to convert and spend money on the other site.

The alternative is to have ads that stand out from the background of your web-page, that immediately catch the eye of visitors, making them more likely to click, so your click-thru rate will increase. If your page is highly targeted then those click-thrus will convert, but if they're not, your earnings per click will reduce over time.

There is another aspect to this debate - the use of affiliate links on highly targeted pages. If you're attracting potential buyers to your site, and they're at the "I'm ready to part with my cash" stage", it could be argued that you should place some buy it now type links to an online retailer, such as Amazon. there is a strong possibility that affiliate or associate links harm your search engine rankings if used too liberally, but a well placed "Buy it now from Amazon" or "Read more reviews at Amazon" could convert well, and if your site targets high ticket items the earnings you get from these links could be much higher than any Adsense click.

So where does this leave us? We want our ads to be clicked more regularly on our highly targeted pages, so we'll make them stand out more, and we might even remove Adsense from low-paying, non targeted pages, or at least not have the ads stand out as much. We'll add associate links to our product destination pages to pick up some nice affiliate revenue.

All this means nothing without some cold, hard figures to back it up, so I'll be doing an experiment on this site, which although still immature in terms of visitor numbers, does get just enough to see a trend over a whole month.

At the moment this site uses blended ads, the same color as the body text, and very nice they look too, with no affiliate links at all. I'll change the colour of my Adsense banners on all my pages (if I miss a few - my apologies - I just use Find & Replace in Dreamweaver).

Remember, as far as Adsense goes you're not aloud to talk about earnings or you risk getting banned, so we'll be talking in terms of percentage changes from the October '06 average.

Check back here for updates at the end of November and we'll see if the changes have made a difference to the sites earnings.

Update: Right, I've been using adsense ads that stick out more for a whole month, and these are the stats: Page impressions up 25%. Number of Clicks up only 4%. Click Thru Rate down 21%. eCpm down 29%. Income down 11%.

Conclusion: Time to use blended ads again, then I'll report back after December to see if the stats rise again!

Update: It's now almost the end of January '07, so here's a quick table of the results. October is our benchmark month (100%), where I used blended ads, so for example in November (with loud ads) Click Through Rate dropped 15% versus October. In December Click Thru rate was 2% lower than October.

  Blended Ads Loud Ads Blended Ads Blended Ads
Month Oct (%) Nov (%) Dec (%) Jan (%)
Page Views 100 127 154 114
Clicks 100 86 104 90
Click Thru Rate 100 85 98 82
Income 100 93 142 84
Earnings per Click 100 107 133 92

So what does this show us? That the colour of ads might not make as big a difference as I first thought, on my site, and that seasonal variations have the most effect.

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