For many publishers, Google AdSense is a major source of revenue. But most don’t put a whole lot of thought into the details of this revenue source, taking a “set it and forget it” approach to display advertising.
Below are some tweaks that you can make to your AdSense ads in a matter of minutes, with no development assistance required. We will assume that you have set up your AdSense account already; if you need assistance getting that up and running check out the official Google AdSense FAQs. (By the way, you can sign up for the free MonetizePros newsletter to get more AdSense tips delivered straight to your inbox. You may also want to check out our AdSense Optimization tool, or our in-depth e-book, 101 Ways to Make More Money with AdSense.)
Tweak #1: Set Your Text vs. Image Preference
There are two primary ad types that fall under the display advertising umbrella: 1) image / rich media ads and 2) text ads. The difference is pretty obvious, but below are a couple screenshots of these two ad types in action.
Here’s an example of an image/rich media ad:
And here’s how a text ad looks:
Within AdSense, you have the option to choose whether your ad units will display :
- Text ads only
- Image/rich media ads only
- Text & image/rich media ads
In our experience, text-based ads will generate more clicks and therefore more revenue for your site than image ads. But of course each site is unique; for some, image ads may deliver the superior performance. So if you have any of your ad units set to “Image/Rich Media Only” there might be an opportunity to boost revenue by bringing text ads into the mix. (The trade-off is that text ads often look less “clean” and can lower the quality impression your site makes.)
The best approach is to give Google the most flexibility to optimize your earnings for you; let it serve both text and image ads, and you’ll get the highest performing ads regardless of appearance.
How To Get There: AdSense Home >> My Ads >> [Click on Ad Unit Name] >> Select “Ad type” Dropdown
Tweak #2: Experiment With Font & Colors
If you do include text ads in your display advertising efforts, you’ll want to spend some time experimenting with the color scheme you use. The default colors you set when you set up your account are just the beginning; you can (and should) experiment with countless settings for your ad appearance.
Each site is different; often, a color scheme that blends your ad units into the rest of the site will deliver the best results. But in many cases a sharp contrast–for example, red links on a site with a green color scheme–will result in a big jump in the CTR and earnings.
How To Get There: AdSense Home >> Ad Units >> [Click on Ad Unit Name] >> Find “Ad style” Field >> Select Desired Setting
Tweak #2a: Create Some Custom Layouts
Above we showed you the path to several options for your text ad appearance. But the options AdSense provides you with are really just the tip of the iceberg; with the custom settings option you have the ability to assemble endless variations on your ad unit. Specifically, you’ll have the ability to customize:
- Border color
- Link color
- Background color
- Text color
- URL color
- Font type
- Font size
- Corner styling
Again, experiment liberally here by including both combinations that you find visually appealing and others that offer more contrast while perhaps being less aesthetically pleasing. Simply changing color schemes is of course no guarantee to boost revenue, but if you experiment enough the odds are that you’ll come across a winning combination.
How To Get There: AdSense Home >> Ad Units >> [Click on Ad Unit Name] >> Find “Ad style” Field >> Click “Use custom settings” >> Experiment!
Tweak #3: Pick Your Targets
Google is always striving to serve ads on your site that are most likely to generate clicks and earn you (and them) revenue in the process. And it generally does a pretty good job of matching up ads with publisher websites.
But there are ways for you to help out by narrowing down the types of ads that can appear on your site.
As a rule of thumb, the greater the overlap between content (the original material on your site) and creative (the ads) the greater the CTR and the higher your earnings. So Google will generally serve ads for products and services that are at least tangentially related to the topic of your site. You can lend a hand in this process by telling Google to avoid certain types of ads that might be irrelevant (or undesirable for the image of your site).
How To Get There: AdSense Home >> Allow & block ads >> General Categories
Note that you can get incredibly detailed here, diving into the specific sub-categories. For example, within the Apparel category you can drill down to Jerseys and Knit Shirts:
If you get into this, be sure to keep an eye on a couple of extremely helpful stats that AdSense provides. Comparing the % Ad Impressions and % Earnings fields tells you a lot about what’s working: if the former (% Ad Impressions) is much smaller than the latter (% Earnings), those types of ads are performing very well.
There are a few variations of this process that might be productive as well:
- Banning Specific Advertisers. By selecting “Advertiser URLs” you’ll have the option to make sure certain undesirable (or competitive) ads don’t show up on your site.
- Banning “Sensitive” Categories. Be sure to check out the “Sensitive categories” option; this dashboard lets you approve or disable certain types of ads with which many publishers may be uncomfortable (for example, “get rich quick” ads or pharmaceutical ads).
For more reading on AdSense optimization, including thoughts on page layouts that can improve your earnings, we recommend these articles:
- 5 Placement Strategies to Boost Your AdSense Income by Jimmie Luthra
- Increase Your Google AdSense Earnings by Josh Dunlop
- 5 Simple Adsense Layout Examples for Increasing Click Through Rates by Spencer Haws
- 3 High CTR Adsense Layouts – Some Simple Strategies To Dramatically Increase Your Google Adsense Earnings! by Brendan Mace
The tips above are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s plenty more that you can do to optimize your AdSense configuration and boost your earnings. But these tweaks are a good place to start; they’re all very easy to implement and the impact on your earnings can be substantial.
The best advice we can give is to be creative, and embrace the experiment. You should be constantly changing and experimenting with your AdSense design and layout. Not every experiment will be a win, but if you stay at it you will come up with combinations that lead to higher earnings.