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Google AdSense Guide: increase earnings and escape low CPC

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Google AdSense Guide: increase earnings and escape low CPC


30-second summary:

  • There are many factors that affect your AdSense performance right from content quality, ad placements, media selection, and so on
  • High traffic doesn’t directly indicate high earnings, in fact, some of your practices may be equivalent to handing out money to your competition
  • Here are six informed steps to help you earn more from AdSense

Throughout this guide, you’ll learn how to increase your Google AdSense earnings by making some very simple changes and by following a few simple tips. In my personal experience, this can help skyrocket your AdSense CPC and results can increase your AdSense earnings by more than five times.

Your aim and objective throughout should be to gradually increase your AdSense CPC and CTR little by little and by following these simple tips you are bound to see results.

Don’t forget to keep on testing and your AdSense earnings will surely increase over time. Just don’t give up quickly!

1. Content is king on the internet and also on AdSense

The reason content is placed at the top of all the other tips is because it is the single most important rule to follow on your journey through SEO and internet marketing. It is the first thing your visitors, advertisers, and bots (ad bots and crawl bots) will notice after coming to your webpage.

If you are providing your users with low quality or outdated content, Google will rate your website much lower and your CPC (the bids advertisers make to appear on your website) will greatly fall. This can also get you smart-priced, even if you generate quality traffic on low-quality content.

So remember, always provide your readers and visitors with something unique and worthwhile which will actually acknowledge rather than something which has already been posted on a thousand other websites.

2. Ad sizes and placements are decisive

Do not neglect the placement and size of your Google AdSense ads as they play an important into delivering a better user experience and thus, improving your AdSense earnings.

“While creating ad sizes and placements, user experience and ad viewability should be the center focus”, explained SEO expert Boris Dzhingarov, in an email interview.

“Some placements and ad sizes will disrupt users, particularly if they’re covering content. Others, however, will fail miserably as the users never see them leading to a decrease in AdSense revenues”, he added.

So the question now is: where should you place your ad and which of Google’s display ad sizes are best for your business? The answer is pretty simple, place two ads inside your blog posts (or content) and one outside the post. Keep one 336 x 280 large rectangle ad on the top of the blog post just below the title and place the second ad in the middle of the blog post as a 468 x 60 sized banner. The remaining unit can be placed to the right of your post inside your sidebar.

Position your AdSense ad units as such to not annoy your visitors by popping right in their faces. Instead, perfectly fit inside your content, or in positions that you aim to get more clicks from.

For example, a site that provides file downloads can have an AdSense Ad Unit right near the download link to get a High CTR.

3. Monitor and limit the use of AdSense ad units

Have you tried limiting the use of your AdSense ad units? The biggest difference I myself have noticed is that by reducing the ad units which had the lowest CTR you can quickly and easily increase your AdSense CPC.

What usually happens is if you don’t have enough content to support all the ad units is that lower-paying ads start showing on your websites. This may increase your click-through rate (CTR) and bring in more clicks but because the ads may not be relevant to your website (public advertisements). This results in your CPC falling and your AdSense earnings decreasing. If you are increasing your ad units ultimately you are making it easier for advertisers to be shown on your website meaning an even lower CPC (because of low bids).

Remove the low CTR ad units and replace them with the higher paying ad units which have a higher CTR and your earnings will rise automatically.

Trying these tips for a couple of days will make you notice a real improvement and an important increase in low AdSense CPC.

Google AdSense Custom Channels will be necessary to keep track of things. This will give you a precise and clear idea of the best-performing ad slots. Measure the CTR, CPC, CPM, and earning of every ad unit.

Create custom channels for every ad slot and monitor their performance for at least two weeks to get an idea of things. If you keep changing ad units too often without testing them thoroughly you might get inaccurate results and miss out on better opportunities by placing your ads elsewhere.

How this is going to help in increasing your AdSense CPC?

Remove the low-performing ad units from your website (Compare CTR and final earnings of different units). Google should now serve better ads to other remaining ad slots which are performing well, so your earnings and CPC will increase.

4. Enable both text and image, media-rich ads

Always enable both text and image ads on your websites. Never limit your ad visibility to ‘Only image/media-rich ads’ or ‘Only text ads’ as this will lower the bids for advertisers to appear on your website. This directly means low AdSense CPC.

If you enable ‘Both text and image ads’ AdSense will automatically show the ad with the highest bid on your website which means a higher CPC for you.

In short, the more advertisers that are bidding to appear on your website the higher your AdSense CPC will be.

5. Keywords, keywords, and more keywords!

Try researching to find keywords with ‘High AdSense CPC’ and a ‘High Search Volume’. Searched globally using the Google Adwords keyword tool. Search, search and search some more to find specific keywords which have low competition, high CPC, and high search traffic.

After researching you can start creating your website pages, blog posts, and articles on such high-value keywords. Always use these keywords naturally at the beginning, the middle, and the end of your content. It is also very useful to add them to your headings or tags.

Try not to bother with keywords that pay a few cents and those that have a low CPM. Ideally, I would recommend grabbing keywords with a CPC higher than $2.50.

This should be the most important part of your mission. You would never want a page that earns one dollar from five to 10 clicks. Rather you want a page that pulls an impressive four to five dollars out of just two ad clicks, or maybe even $40 dollars out of just eight clicks!

If you don’t concentrate on your keywords, even if you have a lot of traffic you will be wasting it and not earning a substantial amount. Imagine this as handing out money to your own competition! By targeting the right keywords you can make a lot more with a lot less traffic.

Research on the Google keyword tool today and increase your Adsense CPC and earnings.

6. Reduce fraud, accidental, and useless clicks

Do you have an ad unit placed near the top of your content that gets a high CTR? Can this also be because of the awkward location that some people end up clicking on your ad by mistake? When this happens, the visitors often back out or close the ad. This is counted by Google as either an accidental or fraud click.

You may temporarily get earnings from these clicks but they will most probably be reverted due to the low-quality nature of the click.

So always try to minimize any accidental or useless clicks on your AdSense ad units and NEVER ask your friends or family to click on your ads!


Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, inbound marketing consultant, and founder of Write Minds. He can be found on Twitter @jmcmillen89.

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A Simple (But Complete) SEO Tutorial for Beginners in 7 Steps

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A Simple (But Complete) SEO Tutorial for Beginners in 7 Steps

Starting with SEO can be overwhelming—many technical terms, checklists of tens of tasks to do, learning resources contradicting each other, and the list goes on. I remember when I got into the game.

This SEO tutorial should get you on the right track. We’ll go through seven essential steps to help you increase organic traffic and ensure you have the right foundation to advance your SEO skills further.

Let’s dive into it.

1. Understand what keywords people are searching for

People look up information around your brand, product, or service in tons of different ways.

Our job is to find these keywords and choose the best ones to target with relevant content. This process is known as keyword research.

You’ll need a keyword research tool to do that. There are a bunch of free ones, such as our free keyword generator, so you can get started right away. Simply plug in keywords that describe your business, products, or problems your audience might need to solve.

Let’s say we have a coffee equipment shop, so discovering what people look up regarding espresso machines and how frequently is a good starting point:

Keyword ideas from Ahrefs' free keyword generator tool

Are you used to saying “espresso maker” instead? Well, this is exactly why we do keyword research because “espresso machine” has 15 times the monthly search volume:

Monthly search volumes of "espresso machine" and "espresso maker," respectively
Screenshot from Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, which allows you to get data for many keywords at once.

To me, these two keywords are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. But maybe others imagine two different things? Let’s use Google as the best verification method here since its goal is to deliver the most relevant results to any search query.

If there’s a big overlap of the search results, then Google sees these two keywords as synonymous, meaning that most people think that way too.

You can either open up two Google search tabs or use the SERP overview comparison feature in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. As you can see, the overlap is huge and there’s not a single page targeting the keyword “espresso maker”:

SERP overview comparison of two synonymous keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

So clearly, “espresso machine” is the right keyword to target here. And we also just touched on the topic of the next step.

Learn more: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

2. Create content that searchers want to see

Chose a keyword that you want to rank for? Then you need to create a piece of content that aligns with search intent. In other words, figure out what people searching that keyword are looking for and deliver it to them.

We just went through the example of people searching for “coffee makers” actually meaning “coffee machines,” which is more commonly used. In general, we can assume that what already ranks at the top for any given keyword is something most searchers want to see.

Let’s keep up with the coffee equipment theme and target the keyword “burr coffee grinder.” Here’s what Google’s top results in the U.S. look like:

SERP overview for "burr coffee grinder"

We’ve got two types of pages here: product reviews with recommendations (in blue) and e-commerce category pages (in yellow). Since the category pages are in the minority and only the biggest players like Amazon or Target rank with them, I’d go with the listicle kind of post recommending multiple coffee grinders.

If you look closely, some of those review pages don’t even specifically target the “burr” grinder type but focus on the best coffee grinders in general. Those naturally mention a few burr grinders, so they’re relevant too.

Both ways here are fine, although focusing on “burr” specifically will likely result in a higher chance of ranking well for this keyword, especially for websites that aren’t huge authorities in the niche yet.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that searchers also want to see valuable and trustworthy information. A good rule of thumb is not to cover topics that you’re not very familiar with and can’t provide value. There’s too much regurgitated information on the internet already, so don’t just create content for the sake of it.

3. Get more clicks with compelling titles

Want to squeeze the most clicks out of your SERP impressions? You need to catch searchers’ attention.

Now, the truth is if your page’s title is plain bad to begin with, you’ll have a lower chance of ranking well. It’s hardly a surprise that search engines assess title tags for ranking the pages since the title is the most visible SERP component:

Google's SERP for "grinding coffee for moka pot" search query

Which result would you click on here? The second one caught my attention immediately because the title promises I’ll find the answer quickly in some sort of chart. The rest of the titles are good too, but they don’t stand out to me despite higher relevance to my search query.

Yes, you should absolutely use your primary keyword in your title. Also, the example above just proves that there are other variables at play. Here’s a short list of the best practices for writing great titles:

  • Include your primary keyword in a natural way – This means you can transform “grinding coffee for moka pot” into something like “How to Grind Coffee for a Delicious Moka Pot.”
  • Make it descriptive – It should perfectly sum up the core of your content.
  • Try to stand out – Always check pages that already rank for the keyword and think how you can differentiate your own.
  • Avoid overpromises and clickbaits – Try your best to deliver what you promise in the SERP snippet.
  • Fit into Google’s pixel limits – Titles truncate (or even change) when you go over a certain pixel length in your title tag. Use a SERP snippet preview tool like this.

4. Provide a good user experience (UX)

Ever came across a promising search snippet that you clicked through and then a messy website that you didn’t really want to engage with appeared? Yeah, me too.

That’s why Google is looking at multiple UX factors when it comes to ranking its results. Visitor satisfaction isn’t only dependent on the provided information but on the whole experience of your page and website.

Think about these UX factors as a solid foundation for your other SEO efforts, not a silver bullet to skyrocket your rankings:

Mobile-friendly website 

How your website looks and behaves on mobile matters more than its desktop version. Most searches take place on our small devices, and that’s why Google predominantly uses mobile versions of pages in its index.

Yet this factor is easy to overlook since we use our desktop devices to create websites. Here are a few tips to make both human and robot visitors on mobile happy:

  • Use a modern CMS that can easily make both desktop and mobile versions of your pages look good. Most popular CMS choices should be fine here.
  • Keep the important content visible on both mobile and desktop. Small variations are fine.
  • Check and troubleshoot mobile reports in the Experience section of your Google Search Console:
Page Experience report in GSC

Learn more: Mobile-First Indexing: What You Need to Know

Solid website structure and navigation

Website structure is how your site is organized and webpages interlinked. Having a logical site structure helps visitors and search engines easily find and navigate content while improving conversions and supporting your SEO efforts.

We could go really deep into creating an optimal website structure. But listen—don’t go deep here. Instead, choose a flat website structure like this:

Flat vs. deep website structure

The top-level pages should be your most important ones, and they should be linked from your header navigational elements that are accessible at all times. Since we just talked about mobile versions, here’s an example of the popular “hamburger” menu at the top-right corner:

Hamburger navigation element on mobile

Learn more: Website Structure: How to Build Your SEO Foundation

Easy-to-read content

Would you get this far if this article was all just a block of text? Probably not.

Notice how we’re making use of headings and subheadings (from H1 to H3s) to add proper hierarchy to the content. But that will still make for a rather dry-looking page. Here are the three most important tips to make your content easy and enjoyable to read:

  1. Add relevant visual elements to cut through the text.
  2. Use multiple text formatting options (like I just did with this list and bolded words).
  3. Write like your audience talks to avoid trying to sound smart with big words and overcomplicated terminology.

By the way, even your URLs could be considered part of your content. It’s something people see on the SERP, along with the title and description. Making your URLs short and descriptive is the best way to ensure they’re SEO-friendly.

Ads and pop-ups in moderation

The best way to ensure your visitors leave your pages ASAP is to overwhelm them with stuff they didn’t come for. Like here:

Example of a page with too many ads and pop-ups

By all means, monetize your website with ads and grow your email list with pop-ups—but do them in moderation. Potentially higher short-term gains are not worth losing in the long run.

HTTPS

Providing a secure connection between your server and visitors has been a must for many years already.

New websites should come HTTPS-enabled by default with good hosting providers. Just double-check that there’s a “lock” icon next to your domain name in your browser signaling a valid TLS certificate that’s needed to run on this secure protocol:

Secure connection via HTTPS

Internal links are links within the same website. Their main roles in SEO are to provide paths for search bots to crawl websites and pass link equity from linking pages.

Think about the link equity as votes that pages get in the form of links from other pages throughout the whole internet. Since internal links are fully within your control, it’s something we should tackle first.

Simply find suitable internal link opportunities every time you publish a new piece of content. Then add the links.

The easiest way to find these opportunities is to use Google. Surprised? With the help of the site: search operator, Google will show you all your website’s pages that contain a certain keyword (or similar ones). Like this:

Looking for internal link opportunities with Google

I even narrowed down the search to our blog section of the website and used the quotation marks as another search operator to return exact matches on that keyword. Voilá, we get a list of pages that talk about “internal links” to internally link our articles on this topic. OK, we’re getting too meta here.

Replicate the process for each new piece of content and its target keyword, and you’ll get ahead of many competitors.

Learn more: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide

6. Get high-quality backlinks

Now we get to the part of links you don’t control because they come from external websites: backlinks.

Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors, meaning that there’s a huge demand for them. Getting worthy backlinks isn’t a piece of cake.

There are tons of ways to build links. The overarching rule of thumb is to provide enough (non-monetary) value to motivate the other side to link to you.

Let me explain the “non-monetary value.”

If you’re trying to get backlinks to subpar content or products, then you’ll most likely have to buy the link or provide something else in exchange for it. Not only would you be unlikely to even get responses to such pitches, but Google could also penalize you for this unnatural link acquisition that violates its webmaster guidelines.

Your biggest asset for building high-quality backlinks is stellar content others find valuable and interesting. Not only can asking for links become quite effective, but you’ll also have a chance to grow your link profile passively without having to write a single email.

Take a look at our five most popular linked-to pages (excluding the homepage):

Best by links report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer
Screenshot taken from the Best by links report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Two of them are free tools providing valuable data, and one is a data study with important insights for our industry. This type of content is called link bait, and it’s arguably the best way to land high-quality links—as those often come naturally, not from you asking for them.

So how do we qualify backlinks as high-quality?

Generally speaking, the best links you can get are “followed” links placed within the main content that’s published on a highly authoritative website in your niche.

To sum this up: Building links is an important part of SEO, and you’ll do well if people find your pages so valuable they’re naturally inclined to link to it on their own.

Since link building is a whole SEO discipline, I recommend you also check these two guides to learn more about it:

7. Ensure your website has a good technical foundation

Perfecting all the steps above won’t matter if search engines can’t access your content. You need to make sure a search engine can discover, crawl, and store the pages in its index.

Luckily, severe technical errors that could cause your content to not rank at all are rather rare. Unless you click on random things in your CMS, you’re probably fine.

But there are quite a few issues that can hinder your success in search engines.

Well, the good thing is that you don’t need to have any deep technical knowledge to discover and troubleshoot technical SEO issues yourself. All you have to do is to use a tool like Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, set up a regular SEO audit, and keep an eye on the issues it finds.

You could do this for free right now. Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool will crawl your website (like search engines) and check it for more than 130 SEO issues. It will then give you a comprehensive overview showing all the issues with explanations on how to fix them:

Issue example in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

This will guide you on the spot. If you first want to learn the theory, we have a guide for you too.

Learn more: The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO

Final thoughts

There are multiple guides referenced throughout the tutorial, so come back to each step whenever you want to learn more. But don’t fall into the “learning” rabbit hole, as nothing can beat hands-on experience.

Go and apply what you just learned. Then monitor your progress, learn from your mistakes, and double down on what’s working. Once you get stuck, try to perform an SEO audit.

We could go on and on. So here’s my last important piece of advice: be patient. SEO takes time, and there are no guarantees.

Got any questions? Ping me on Twitter.  



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