As part of the AdSense 10th anniversary celebrations, Google published 16 AdSense success stories on their website. Each of these stories represented one website that has succeeded with the benefit of AdSense.
Whilst these may not be the world’s top earning AdSense sites, they are all sites that have done well. Most are also run by the sort of individuals and small teams who we most frequently encounter, meaning that there is the opportunity of other publishers to learn from their success.
To see if there were any patterns to be learned from, we analysed ad position, ad unit choice, ad implementation and number of ads. We’ve presented some of the findings in this handy infographic.
Some of the findings were surprising; here are a few key take-aways
Recommended ad unit sizes
The success story publishers mostly stuck with Google’s advice to use the recommended ad unit sizes. 728*90 leaderboards were the most popular overall, but this is partly because they lend themselves well to having multiple units of the same size on a page.
The recommended ad units don’t just work well because they attract good CTRs. Advertisers also use them more heavily, which means that there is more ads to choose from – which can lead to higher CPC.
Ads Following “F Patterns”
Users tend to scan web pages in an F pattern. Placing ads within that pattern can improve their visibility and therefore increase click through rates. The heatmaps show that the AdSense success story publishers are following that pattern without being slaves to it.
You don’t always need to show ads!
25% of the featured websites had no AdSense on their home page at all and only 6 out of 16 showed three or more ad units. That might seem counterproductive to some, but there are multiple scenarios where reducing or removing ads from the home page can make sense.
- Is a high bounce rate home page hurting the site overall?
- Are those users who explore more deeply more likely to return?
- Are clicks on your deeper pages more valuable?
4 or more units
Most publishers are limited to 4 AdSense units per page. Larger publishers, who are under direct account management with Google, and those working with Google AdSense Certified Partners can apply to be whitelisted for additional units. Where publishers have a proven track record of quality, they can be approved for this, providing a means to improve performance , particularly on long pages. It’s worth noting that those publishers have been approved for this because they are successful and have a proven quality record, rather than being successful because of additional ad units.
The big pattern
The most obvious pattern is one that we fully expected: There is no definitive pattern (well, not in ad implementation). AdSense success isn’t a secret formula to be discovered and replicated. What works for one website might fail miserably on another.
How ads are technically implemented doesn’t dictate the success of a website.
The common theme though is sites that add value and give their users a reason to visit and come back again. By creating great sites these publishers consistently attract visitors to their sites generating ad impressions. Once you have that, the rest is just good-practice and common sense.
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Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.