My Monthly Adsense Report: February 2012

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Welcome to my February 2012 Adsense income report!

This is the second instalment in my monthly Adsense income series – the series in which I completely expose myself (mistakes, blunders, omissions, lucky breaks, and skilful, intelligent manoeuvres alike)!

I’ll spare you the blathering – let’s get into the details:

Adsense Earnings for February 2012

In February I made $947.30 in Adsense revenue.

That’s lower than January (and is certainly not moving me any closer to my goal to earn $10,000 per month in Adsense in 2012).

In the paragraphs that follow I’ll talk a little about WHY I think my earnings didn’t go up last month. But first, here’s a table showing the breakdown in Adsense earnings for February:

Some observations on February’s earnings:

  • A few sites still make up the bulk of my earnings.

In my January report, I noted that most of my Adsense revenue came from two or three sites. That was also the case in February.

Here’s a graph showing the distribution of income from my sites. It’s almost identical to January:

Why hasn’t much changed from January to February? Because I only made one change to my website portfolio in February – changing where the ads are on all of my web pages. (More on that in a second.)

You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result each time. Bottom line: if you don’t change things up, don’t expect to see improvements.

  • The change to my ad layout actually DECREASED the clickthrough rate on my sites. In last month’s Adsense report I mentioned that I was planning to experiment with different ad layouts in the coming months, to see what impact it has on clickthrough rate (CTR).

At the beginning of February I had my VA change the ad layout on all of my sites, so they followed the same layout as eHow.com. The eHow.com layout basically goes like this:

  • One “leaderboard” ad directly beneath the top navigation
  • One “skyscraper” ad in the left sidebar
  • One large rectangle ad at the top of the right sidebar.

Here’s the layout in action:

What was my reasoning for following the eHow.com ad layout? I assumed that if a successful site like eHow.com is following a certain page layout, then it must be good.

Wrong! Testing proved otherwise. My CTR fell by ~12%, which impacted my overall revenue.

This result is actually consistent with the conclusions of Michael Campbell’s excellent (and free) Ultimate Heatmap report, which states that the areas of a web page that attract the most eyeballs are (1) the content column of a web page (specifically, (a) the top of the content column where the navigation and article title usually are, and (b) the bottom of the page just above the fold) and (2) the left sidebar.

Adsense Lessons I’ve Learned Over the Past Month:

  1. Making money with Adsense is all about pageviews and clickthrough rate, NOT visits. Here’s what happened to the traffic on my sites in February:
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) actually went UP
  • But pageviews and CTR went down
  • Which resulted in fewer overall clicks

So even though CPC went up, my overall revenue was down. This is because fewer pages were viewed on my sites, and also because the CTR was lower.

What this means for you (and me) is that it’s important to get people to stay on-site for as long as possible, and view as many pages as possible – because the more pages they view, the more ads they’ll be exposed to, and the greater chance they’ll eventually see an ad that tickles their fancy and click on it!

Fortunately, this is in line with one of Google’s new rankings rules – reducing the bounce rate of your site. So if you make changes to your sites to encourage people to stay on the site, you’ll not only get more clicks, but Google will reward you with better rankings.

  1. Getting organic traffic takes patience. While I’ve been learning a lot about SEO lately, I still prefer pay-per-click advertising to drive traffic, because it’s SO much faster and straightforward. Having said that, paid traffic only works if you’re selling a high-priced product. For sites that are monetized largely with Adsense, paid traffic doesn’t work – so organic traffic is the way to go.

Related to that point, I’m thinking it’s going to take longer than I expected to sell my first sites on Flippa – because getting a good amount of organic traffic will take some time, and I’ve noticed that Flippa buyers want to see some site history before they’ll pay a good price for it.

  1. Writing publicly about earnings is a great analytical exercise. Writing this post every month is a great learning experience, because it forces me to (a) isolate EXACTLY where my earnings are coming from (b) think about where I should be putting my efforts to increase that income.

Plans to Increase My Adsense Earnings in March

Here’s what I plan to do to try to increase my Adsense earnings this month:

  • Add new content (really!). In last month’s Adsense post I said that I was going to regularly add new content to my “money” sites (i.e. the sites that have the highest rankings and are getting the most traffic, and that seem to be viewed positively by Google).

So in March my VA will be adding over 100 new articles to my sites (setting them up to auto-publish at regular intervals).

I’m also trying something new: I recently hired someone from Scriptlance to gather information on all the health centers in the U.S. that deal with a particular health condition. In total, there are over 1,500 such centers in the U.S. I also hired someone to take that information and add value to it by inserting a little extra information, along with an image and related Youtube video. When the posting of this content is done, I’ll have 1,500 pieces of content on “auto-drip” publishing on one site. I’m expecting that to bring in incremental traffic over time.

  • Monitor the progress of my new 13 niche sites. At the beginning of 2012 I was fully expecting to be able to launch at least 10 new niche sites per month, using the excellent Long Tail Pro for my keyword research. So far, though, I’ve only launched 13. The challenge has been finding the time for my VA to set up the sites, while still allowing her time to do other things. Bottom line: I’m still working on a process to fully outsource this in a smooth fashion.
  • Ditch the eHow.com layout and try new ad layout. In the next couple of days I’ll be changing the ad layout on my sites to a more “aggressive” ad placement to see how that affects CTR.

Here’s the placement I’ll be testing:

Wrapping Up

The learning continues! In February I learned that:

  • Making money with Adsense really is all about pageviews and CTR. (Duh!)
  • I need to be more disciplined in adding new content to my sites that are already ranking
  • The eHow.com ad layout doesn’t work well on my sites

Now your turn. Any questions?

Bueller? Bueller?   

About the Author Moe Muise

I've been making money online since 2009 and have a passion for research. My focus is niche research: finding profitable niches, keyword research, and competition analysis, as well as creating outstanding content.

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