AdSense: Blocking out unwanted and miserable CPC sites to improve your earnings with same CTR

I’ve been using AdSense over quite sometime (almost an year) – though I can’t really claim my average income to be anything great. It’s just borderline decent. Now I’ve got a unique advantage in terms of sites. I help maintain a bunch of sites/faqs/forums etc and have direct access to their hosting accounts, thus enabling me to spread my AdSense content over a whole lot of sites rather than concentrating them all on my own homepage. For each site, I create a separate channel and keep track or the income through them and upon payment share a percentage with my friends. This deal was working out pretty effectively and I was happy with the context-relevant ads that AdSense handed out for all the sites till it came to my own site.

Problem:

You might have noticed that my own site is still in it’s infancy.. I launched it just a couple of weeks back. I tried putting in a lot of varied content right from the beginning to make it interesting for a wide range of readers as well as to get diverse ads related to my content. The ads that started coming up were mostly irrelevant and dealt with either RSS, Blogs or some totally unrelated subject. I ignored it for the first couple of days, giving AdSense it’s own sweet time to properly index my content. However a week down, to my utter surprise, I kept getting the same block of ads on almost all of my pages and both my CTR (Click-Through-Rate) and CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and thus my earnings were at an all-time low. I’ve rarely seen AdSense repeat the same ad-block for more than 2-3 days, let alone a weeks time.

Now the low CTR was self-evident as I wasn’t getting good & relevant ads. Studying the CPC reports revealed that none of the clicks had fetched me anything above $0.01 !! Extremely strange since I didn’t have any dearth of keyword-rich content that I’d get such lousy ads with miserable CPCs. I’ve managed to do far better on sites with lesser content than me.

A little investigation revealed that quite a few of these were what’s known as MFA or Made For AdSense sites.

If you’re not familiar with term MFA (Made for Adsense), the shortest explanation is this: it’s a website with content that is primarily made of adsense ads, or any other advertisement system. So you might ask yourself, what does this have to do with me? Well, these webmasters pay loads of money to advertise their MFA sites on Google Adwords which then serves their contextual ads on your own website(s) through Adsense program.

Both of them (Google and the MFA Webmaster) make some serious money while doing what they’re doing, at cost of your visitors and reader who’re turning their backs to contextual advertising because of the bad reputation caused by these advertisers.

The rest were simply lousy low paying ads for single-paged sites. Quite often these sites hook up their ads with a bunch of unrelated but highly ranked keywords so that they keep showing up persistently on all your pages – as it happened in my case. The result is that visitors mostly don’t find the ads appealing and there’s a sharp decline in your CTR. On top of that the few clicks that you get fetch horridly low returns thus lowering the overall CPC of the whole site.

Solution:

There’s a little used (to your best advantage) tool called Competitive Ad Filtering provided by Google, that can be found under the AdSense Setup section in your AdSense account. While it helps you block out ads for competing sites, this tool can come in handy here. All I had to do was enter the display URL of those low-paying sites into the Ad Filter and instantly they were GONE from my site 😀 However, there was still the question of weeding out the MFA sites, which kept coming up every now and then.

Delving further into this, I came across this site called AdsBlackList which really helped me along the way. The folks at AdsBlackList maintain a pretty large database of MFA and badly-behaving low CPC sites. All you’ve to do is enter your own site’s URL in their search engine which then analyses your site and based on keywords concentration of your content, provides you with a list of such rogue sites which are likely to show up through AdSense. You can then simply take that list and add part/whole of it to your Competitive Ad Filters, as you see fit.

Note: Keep in mind that the maximum number of sites you can add to the Competitive Ad Filtering is 200. So choose your targets wisely.

If you register with them you’re given of the option of enlisting any such new sites that comes to your notice. They analyse the site and if your claim is true the site is flagged in their blacklist and made available for public viewing. If this tool is used wisely it’ll greatly benefit the whole AdSense earners community.

Coming back to the point – once I started using the Ad Filtering, not only the unwanted sites went away… my CPC took an immediate jump although I had about the same CTR. While for the whole of last week I earned a meagre $0.02, now with the filtering in effect, my returns totaled to some $1.83 in just a days time.

Hopefully with the filters in place, once my site starts drawing big traffic there should be a big boost in the returns, for good ads or bad ads – the ultimate key to success is high traffic.

All the best 🙂

Google experimenting with the “Ads by Google” link in AdSense

I’d read about Google experimenting around with the “Ads by Google” link in AdSense content but came to experience it myself only today. The previous examples I’d seen were of a miniature of the colourful Google Logo itself, shown below…

New AdSense Logo

What I encountered today was quite different from the prior illustration. Concerns were being raised about the decrease of click-through rates because of presence of the logo and seems like they reached Google’s ears. Either that or someone at their labs was smart enough to figure it out. They’ll probably settle for a smaller and more unobtrusive logo – the one that appears as their favicon on the Google sites. Not just that! In my case the logo came up matching uniformly with the colour palette of my ads. I’ve got my ads sets to show only black text on white background and that’s how the logo in mine appeared. Here’s how it looks..

AdSense according to palette

What still beats me is the purpose of this logo – as if the words “Ads by Google” weren’t enough!! However, they finalise on this, I don’t think the publishers are going to have too much of a problem with it.

What say you ?

Google’s New Offering: Google Patents

Google’s at it again and this time with a much-needed patent search engine. It sports the same minimalistic interface that’s a trademark of Google and allows you to perform fulltext searches on a database of over 7 million patents and view the details of each patent along with all the drawings / sketches. The scanned pages of the original patents are displayed in a PDF-like format with the ability to zoom in/out on the scans.

Apparently it uses the same underlying technology as Google Book Search. For those who’ve cracked their skulls over the notorious USPTO search engine this one is a mere breeze 😉

Here’s a screen-shot:

Google Patents Screenshot

Check out some funky patents that came up by default on the search page…

This might act as great tool for patent lawyers. Any comments ?