Archive for the ‘Lead Story’ Category

Earn More Money With AdSense-Analytics Integration

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Recently Google made AdSense-Analytics integration available for my account.  I only have a few days worth of data, but I am very impressed with the information so far. As I analyze the data, I am beginning to see some potential uses. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you should start with this Inside AdSense’s article: Make a date with data in Google Analytics — make sure you watch the video, which is included below.

Make More Money With AdSense, The Basics

Before I go into more detail about how I am planning to use the data, let’s cover the basics. In short, your AdSense income depends on three key factors:

  1. Clickthrough Rate (CTR) — There are several things you could do to improve clickthrough rate.  This includes experimenting with:
    • Ad size (e.g., Skyscraper, Leaderboard, etc.)
    • Ad type (i.e., text versus image) — In general, I prefer text ads over image ads.
    • Ad placement (i.e., location or locations on the page) — Based on my experience ads below the Post Title perform very well.  Likewise, Skyscraper ad on the left also performs well.
    • Ad format (e.g., color, border, background, etc.) — My general preference is to have title link that matches the color of links on my site, no border, and matching background color.
  2. $ per click (CPC) — This is mainly determined by the topic and keywords of your blog/posts.
  3. Traffic — In general, the more the better.  However, different traffic type can have significant impact on the CTR.  For example, social bookmarking traffic tends to have very low CTR.  On the other hand, traffic via links from mainstream websites and traffic from organic searches tend to have much higher CTR.

    Use Integration Data To Improve Your AdSense Income

    Now that we have the basics covered, I want to go over two specific ideas on how to use the new data.

    High CTR / High $ per click Pages

    The first set of pages prime for optimization are the high CTR / high $ per click pages.  You want to drive more traffic to these pages because they are money makers that just need more traffic.  Here are a few ideas:

    • Link to these pages from your sidebar or from your home page.  For example, you can call these “Featured Articles”.
    • Link to these pages when you are writing new articles.
    • Link to these pages from your high traffic pages.
    • Buy ads that drive traffic to these pages.  This requires some tinkering since you have to figure out how to spend less on the ads than you are earning to keep some profit.

    Low $ per click Pages

    Another idea revolves around low $ per click pages; especially for pages with high traffic and high CTR.  For these pages there are several things you could try:

    • Look at the ads that appear on these pages and try blocking them. Hopefully, this will bring up the $ per click.
    • Tweak the keywords to attract higher paying keywords.
    • Stop showing AdSense and experiment with other types of advertisement — e.g., relevant affiliate ads, CPM ads, etc.  For example, I am doing this with one of my page that has high traffic and high CTR but with $ per click that’s around 5 cents.
    • Another idea is to replace AdSense with links to your other high CTR / high $ per click pages.

      Anyway, this is a relatively new and you may not have statistically significant amount of data to work with. However, it’s worth exploring and sees what you could do to positively impact your earning.  Here’s a good article I found on this topic: 10 Ways To Analyze AdSense Analytics To Make More Money from RobMalon.com.

      What’s Your Blog Exit Strategy?

      Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

      Okay, you have launched your blog, and you have been pouring your heart and soul into it.  You are gaining readers, made new friends, and enjoying the overall experience.  Since nobody can blog forever, have you ever thought about what you’ll do down the road?  I haven’t thought about this until a friend (DebtKid) asked me that question.

      exit strategy
      Photo by Will Foster via Flickr

      Seven Blog Exit Strategies

      As I went through the process and considered what I could do if I ever got tired of blogging, here are some of the options:

      1. Go Out Quietly

      The first option is to simply take it offline.  Let the web hosting run its course and the blog will simply disappear into oblivion.  This is probably the most common fate for blogs.

      2. Stay Online, But Stop Updating

      If you have a profitable blog with decent amount of organic traffic, leaving it online without updating may be a sensible option.  All you have to do is minimal maintenance and enjoy the residual income from all the hard work you have done.  I believe the official term for this is mothballing your blog.

      3. Stay Online, Update A Lot Less

      A variation of the one above is to keep it online and only update it once in a while as a post idea emerges.  One of my favorite blogs, Skelliewag, is following this strategy — hopefully for a short time only.

      4. Sell Your Blog

      There are many marketplaces that you can buy and sell blogs — i.e., SitePoint Marketplace and DigitalPoint Forums.  Just like any other assets, a well developed blog could fetch decent amount of money.  Yaro wrote about high-profile blogs for sale that’s worth reading if you are exploring this option.

      5. Sell Your Content

      Even if you can’t sell your blog as a whole — i.e., the buyer don’t want your domain name and brand — your content is still valuable.  Depending on the niche and the quality of your content, you could sell your articles for decent amount of money.

      6. Turn It Into A Group Blog

      If you are simply tired of writing, but you still want to stay in the blogging business, you could do turn it into a multi-author blog.  Of course, this only works if there are proper incentive for the potential contributors — i.e., money, traffic, recognition, etc.

      7. Buy And Republish Content

      The reverse of “Sell The Content” strategy is to buy content and republish them to keep your blog active.  I am certain that this is not a good long-term solution, but definitely a viable short-term patch to help you through the exiting process.

      Do you have a blog exit strategy?  If not, do you think you need one?

      Other articles about blog exit strategy:

      How To Add Image Thumbnail Using WordPress Custom Fields

      Thursday, July 31st, 2008

      Over the past few days, I have been toying around with the idea of setting up WordPress as the CMS for a web site directory. One thing I wanted to do with my personal finance directory is to show a thumbnail image of the featured site when I am on the main page, category pages, tag pages, and search result pages.

      As you know the thumbnail feature is not common in free WordPress themes, so I had to do some work to get it working. You can see how the directory looks below:

      How To Add Thumbnail Image To WordPress Template

      Now, let’s take a look at what we need to do to enable this feature.

      1. Modify the main page (index.php) to show image

      Note you could make the same changes to archive.php and search.php to get the same result. Note, I added the following code right under the title inside The Loop:

      <a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><img style="float:left;margin: 0 10px 10px 0;border:1px solid #000;height:90px" src="/wp-content/uploads<?php $values = get_post_custom_values("Image"); echo $values[0]; ?>" alt="thumbnail" height="90" /></a>

      There are two parts to this code, the <a> tag and the <img> tag.

      • The <a> tag is the same as the one on the post title. I am adding it here so that users can click on the image to get to the full post.
      • The <img> tag has a couple of components:
        • The style attribute tells the browser to float the image to left, add some white space around the image, surround it with a black border, and make it 90 pixels high.
        • The src attribute tells the server to grab the image from /wp-content/uploads directory with the rest of path and filename information coming from a custom field called “Image”

      2. Add custom field called “Image” to each post

      Now, when you are writing a post, you need to add a custom field called Image to the post with a value that reflects the rest of image path and filename information. In this example, we will use the same image that is shown inside the post itself. To do this:

      • Upload an image to the post
      • Switch to HTML mode and take note of the image path (see image below) — note the image path is /wp-content/uploads/2008/07/annualcreditreport.png in this example.

      • Next add the custom field called Image. Note that we already defined some of the path information in the template — i.e., /wp-content/uploads. So you are adding the rest of the path information and filename in the value field — i.e., /2008/07/annualcreditreport.png. (see image below)

      • Save and you’re done!

      That’s it! Your blog should start showing thumbnail image next to each post once you completed these two steps.

      Things to consider

      Right now, if the Image custom field is not defined, the template will show missing image error. With a bit of PHP programming using if-then statement to detect the if the custom field is defined or not, you could show the thumbnail only when the Image custom field is defined.

      This article was featured in:

      How To Start A Blog in 9 Easy Steps

      Monday, March 17th, 2008

      Over the past few weeks, my friends and I wrote about different aspects of blogging and how to position your blog more successful. In this post, I would like to take a step back and talk about how to start a blog. Specifically, I will discuss how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog since we already established that it’s one of the best platforms to start on.

      Launch
      Photo by rocatis via Flickr

      Please note the discussion below assumes that you are interested in monetizing your blog and attracting readership. It’s not as applicable to if you want to blog casually.

      1. Establish a business plan for your blog

      This doesn’t have to be a full business plan since blogging has a very low cost of entry. But before you begin, there are several things you need to consider:

      • What’s the main focus of your blog? — I discussed this in Key to Successful Blogging. Be sure to pick a topic that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
      • What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? — Do you want to start a blog to complement your business, products, and services? For side income? For notoriety? To open doors to other opportunities? To help others? To keep yourself accountable?
      • What are your expectations? — How much time are you willing to commit? What level of traffic, subscribers, income do you expect 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now? What would you do if you fail to meet those expectations?

      2. Find and register a domain name

      Once you have identified your blog’s topic, it’s time to find relevant and brandable domain name. I discussed this topic in detail in How to Create an Amazing Domain Name. I currently use GoDaddy.com and I do recommend them for domain name registration.

      3. Find the right web hosting company

      Finding the right web hosting company is probably one of the bothersome aspects of starting your own self-hosted web site. I have used many hosting companies in the past, including GoDaddy.com Hosting.

      I am currently with Media Temple and have been very satisfied.

      I think the four most important things to do when you start out initially are:

      • Pick the Linux package over Windows. With Linux you will have greater flexibility with .htaccess and working with PHP.
      • Pick a host that offers cPanel and phpMyAdmin administrative interfaces.
      • Use the lowest cost package. Don’t worry, you won’t go over the limits any time soon.
      • Sign up for 1 month only. Extend an additional month if you are happy and slowly work your way up to full year commitment. Use the money back guarantee if needed.

      Here are a few more web hosting companies you could choose from:

      4. Install WordPress

      Installing WordPress is not too difficult, but it could be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the web. The basic steps are as follow:

      1. Download WordPress
      2. Unzip and FTP files to your web host
      3. Set up database
      4. Set up database username and password
      5. Update wp-config.php file
      6. Run WordPress built-in installation
      7. 5. Find and install a WordPress theme

        One of the nice thing about WordPress is that there are literally thousands of theme to choose from. With minimal effort you can make your blog looks fairly unique. I discussed this in detail in How to Find the Right WordPress Theme.

        6. Install and set up essentials plug-ins

        Plug-ins are add on programs that enhance the functionality of WordPress. You can find hundreds of plug-ins at the WordPress plugin directory. However, the ones that I considered essential are:

        7. Set up companion accounts and integrate their functionalities

        Companion accounts are other online services that make your blog more effective. I shared more information in 12 Essential Companion Accounts for a Successful Blog. Basically, these accounts will help in different aspects like monetization, marketing, traffic generation, search engines optimization, and so on.

        8. Configure your WordPress installation

        Once you have everything set up and installed, you’ll have to make everything works together. This involves making configuration changes in the administrative control panel, as well as some minor tweaking of your WordPress theme. This latter part will involve a little bit of HTML and PHP programming.

        9. Start blogging

        That’s it! You’re done and ready to share your ideas with the world. At this point, you’ll want to read How To Grow A New Blog Efficiently and other fine articles to help your blog grow.