I was doing some testing with Adsense Ad placement not to long ago because my click through rate (CTR) was quite low. I run a website with both a WordPress blog and a phpBB forum installed. After doing a couple of days research on the topic I found out some basic optimizing techniques that would result in a much higher CTR. Not only does it improve the CTR but it also makes the website look much nicer. All the optimization I used is based around layout and styling. So here are 5 tips that should increase your CTR:
1. Wrap your Adsense code with its own div class and css style the background.
This works well with 728 x 90 banner ads, especially if your website is wider and you want to center the Adsense code. I would add a color to the div background (I use a very subtle shade of grey) and add padding so that it separated the ad block from the rest of your content. You can also add a border which works well and makes the Adsense ad look bigger. Often the ads can make a website look very messy so separating them from the rest of your website will help to clean it up and people will see them better. You will also want to add the same background color to your Adsense code as you have with your div background. Here is an example:
2. Not all ads are made equal. Only select the recommended ad sizes, these are:
728 x 90 – Leader board
300 x 250 – Medium Rectangle
336 x 280 – Large Rectangle
160 x 600 – Skyscraper
Though it is no secret and this has being reported all over the internet this is actually quite a big issue, especially for those who have only just started with Adsense. Though there are quiet a few other ad block sizes available, those 4 work the best by far in my experience.
3. Lay your website out to allow for Adsense. Though most people don’t like to design a website around ads it actually can help to improve your CTR. Sure content is the key to your traffic and thus getting more clicks, however without good layout for ads they will get overlooked and your CTR will be low. Ads that get overlooked tend to be ones which alert the reader “these are tacky ads” or they completely miss them. I have found the best ad placement for a forum is the banner ad at the top and bottom and also just below the first post.
This is an example of a forum layout I like to use when faced with a standard styled forum. If you feel confident in forum styling I would highly recommend a layout similar to a blog (with a sidebar with replies looking like comments on a blog), however since most forums are blocky and stretch the page this is what I have found works the best for me:
For a blog the best placements are just below the title using a 336 x 280 rectangle or in the sidebar above the page fold. Depending on your blog type you can also get good CTR by placing a 336 x 280 ad block or if wide enough 728 x 90 ad block at the end of your content. If you have just given advice on a product then the reader will be naturally incline to look for links to this product and Adsense will display ads which are relevant to your topic (most of the time). If you have a sidebar you will want to make it large enough to take 336 x 280 rectangles. I haven’t found the header ads next to the logo effective inside a blog. I think people are more inclined to skip the header and focus more on the title and body area of your blog.
Here is an example of the layout I have found best for my websites:
If you have a 3 column layout then the skyscraper blocks will work well. These work the best when you have them in the natural navigation areas, so usually on the left above the page fold. Here are the layouts I have found the best:
4. Use Link units and also Google Custom Search. The link units are great and often look similar to navigation bars. The best placement is usually in areas close to where you would expect navigation buttons. Though revenue is not earned when this is click, it’s only earned when the user clicks a link on search page it navigates to. These work surprisingly well. Custom search is great, on one of my sites I have a wordpress blog and forum so rather than using the inbuilt search systems in both the different applications I can use the best search tool available – Google. The best part is that you can create a custom search page, so the results look like they are within your own website. You make revenue when someone clicks a sponsored link in the search results. I find this has a very high CTR and also it helps my site with a great site wide search bar. The best placement for this varies according to the type of page. For instance on a page filled with articles and links you should put the search bar in a very obvious area and make it large, so users can easily search. For general pages usually the search bar is found on the right side near the navigation bar. I find users find it easy there.
5. Make sure you style the ads to fit in with your websites color and layout. Playing around with the color of your font on the ads is important and can often be overlooked or done terribly. The trick is to make the title a shade brighter than the titles on your website, keep the body copy black or a dark grey, make the link the same color as your links on your website and background and border should be the same color as the background behind them.
These are just 5 tips on how I managed to increase the CTR for my websites. You will need to play around with your layout and also the color of the adsense ads you use. Do lots of testing as its worth spending a few days ou need to make sure that your ads adhere to the strict Adsense rules.