Saturday, April 14, 2012

How to increase your AdSense revenue

My proper website has been around for about 12 years. For most of that time it had very few visitors and the money I made from advertising was minimal. Then a couple of years ago advertising revenue started going up. It’s now plateaued but I earn a nice wedge of cash ever month, not enough to give up the day job but enough to add a decent amount to my income. So what’s my secret and how can you do the same thing?

Firstly, you can optimise the placement, colours and number of AdSense units. Now this may well improve your revenue but the problem is it is almost impossible to figure out if revenue increased due to changes to your ads or just due to random fluctuations. Take a look at my daily income over the past month.


There’s a lot of volatility in those figures. Admittedly you can slice the data in different ways which can produce better results but even with no changes to my ad setup, the daily numbers are all pretty volatile. And if you aren’t making a lot of cash from your ads, your figures are likely even more volatile. So I figure if you want to optimise you ad setup, then you need to be looking at weekly or monthly numbers, so the feedback loop on changes is going to be pretty slow. To be frank the limit of my optimisation of ads is to increase the number of ad units to three (the maximum allowed and also probably the maximum number that wouldn’t be too annoying to a user of you site).

So what did cause the increase in my income? Simple really, an increasing number of visitors. My graph of monthly visitors and my graph of monthly AdSense revenue are almost identical. So unfortunately the answer to the question of how to increase AdSense revenue is another question, how to increase the number of visitors to your site.

And the answer to that question is actually pretty straightforward I reckon. The first part is fully within your control - Produce a lot of content of a reasonably quality. i.e Content that search engines will consider to be of value and hence index. The second part isn’t completely within your control, gain some inbound links from reputable sites. I actually think this will naturally follow from producing content that people appreciate.

In some ways I can’t help thinking this is the business model that Facebook has adopted, get a shedload of content (although in their case its helpfully created by their own users) and shove ads on it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun with flags

The Big Bang Theory hasn’t been quite the same since the geeks started to pair off with girlfriends (since half the humour was about them failing spectacularly in their endeavours with the opposite sex), but Sheldon’s recent video podcast ‘Fun with flags’ was rather splendid.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Creepy ads

I’m used to visiting a website and their adverts then following me round the web afterwards. It’s happened with Dell and some property website. They even seem to make an effort to show me relevant stuff (laptops I was looking at or properties in the area I looked at). Then after a few days they disappear. I find it a bit creepy and it’s a bit of an eye opener to realise what the ad companies know about me (or about the cookie that’s sat on my machine).

But there’s an advert that’s been following me around for months now, for LeanKit Enterprise Kanban. I’m pretty sure this ad can’t be getting shown to everybody on the web, since this is a pretty niche product, so I can only assume it’s appearing because I visited their site ages ago. This has gone beyond creepy, this is just plain weird. Is showing me the same ad for months on end actually effective? Are the advertisers paying a premium for it?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cross browser selectSingleNode for XML in Javascript

Internet Explorer has a non-standard method available in XML documents returned from AJAX calls called selectSingleNode. Pass in some XPath and it returns the first node that matches the XPath. Other browsers have ways of doing the same thing, but they are more long winded. So in short, I like the IE implementation and since I don’t fiddle with XML in JavaScript that often I often forget that selectSingleNode is not supported on all browsers (and if you’re wondering why I use IE as my primary browser, it’s because it’s still, just about, the most popular browser out there).

So here’s a cross browser version of selectSingleNode (not my own work, copy and pasted from somewhere I can’t remember on the web)

    function SelectSingleNode(xmlDoc, elementPath) {
      if (xmlDoc.evaluate) {
        var nodes = xmlDoc.evaluate(elementPath, xmlDoc, null, XPathResult.ANY_TYPE, null);
        var results = nodes.iterateNext();
        return results;
        return xmlDoc.selectSingleNode(elementPath); 

Update – This no longer works in IE10, since selectSingleNode has been removed from the XML document returned from AJAX calls. This can be worked around by setting the response type of the XmlHttpRequest, like so

xhr.responseType =  'msxml-document';

More info

Update – There’s a more fully featured version of this now available