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Thread: Choosing Profitable AdSense Topics

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    Will.Spencer's Avatar
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    Choosing Profitable AdSense Topics

    Topic selection is one of the key factors for success in earning money with AdSense.

    In this context, I am not talking about the larger issue of how vitally important niche selection and keyword research are for generating traffic. Those are big topics that I have and will continue to discuss in other articles. This article will focus on topic selection as it relates directly to AdSense.

    Aside from the very important issue of traffic, topic selection affects AdSense earnings in two ways:

    • EPC (Earnings Per Click)
    • CTR (Click Through Ratio)

    Earn More For Each Click

    AdWords advertisers bid on the prices of their ad keywords. Popular keywords cost more than unpopular keywords. Profitable keywords cost more than unprofitable keywords.

    As an AdSense publisher, you have access to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool which AdWords advertisers use to do keyword research. They use to tool to find inexpensive keywords; you can use the tool to achieve the opposite goal.

    Start the tool by entering a keyword you either are competing for now or are considering competing for.

    Under "Choose columns to display", select "Show Estimated Avg. CPC." CPC is Cost Per Click, the mirror statistic to EPC (Earnings Per Click). CPC is what the advertisers pay, EPC is what you earn.

    You can sort the keyword results by clicking on the Estimated Avg. CPC Column header.

    The Advertiser Competition column is also useful, because keywords with more competition are going to be bid more highly over the long term.

    But CPC is only half of the picture...

    Earn More Clicks

    I use the same web template across dozens of sites. On some of those sites, that template earns a 2% CTR and on nearly identical sites it earns a 30% CTR.

    What's the difference? The difference is topic selection.

    The number on factor in selecting topics which will generate high click through ratios is visitor intent. Visitor intent is "what is the visitor doing on this page?"

    Visitors who are being entertained are the worst clickers. Visitors who are looking for information are better. Visitors who are shopping are the best clickers of all.

    Guessing user intent is more of an art than a science, but it is not all that difficult. Just think about how likely a hypothetical visitor is to spend money related to that page view. The higher that likelihood, the better your chance of earning a click.

    Another topic selection issue that can effect CTR is the relative ad-blindness or ad-hostility of certain usergroups. Webmasters tend to be horribly ad-blind. They look at ads so much that they don't really see them any more. Certain social groups are ad-hostile. They believe that advertising is an evil tool of capitalist swine. They are likely to run Firefox and AdBlockPlus. You won't make a lot of money selling to those folks.

    Customer group selection is also important. You will make more money selling to people with money than people without money. This makes a web site about power boats more likely to be profitable than a web site about refugee relief in the Sudan.

    A Final Note of Caution

    For many years, people have been publishing lists of high-paying AdSense keywords. The topics on those lists are extremely competitive and are high indicators of spam to search engine spam detectors.

    In addition, AdSense is smart to those tricks. The amount an AdWords advertiser pays is not indexed directly to the amount an AdSense publisher is paid. The advertiser may pay $50 for the keyword "mesothelioma", but you are not likely to see more than a few cents for that click.

    Chasing any keyword from a "high paying keyword" list is likely to be an exercise in frustration.
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    Excellent breakdown Will. I have a couple of questions tho.

    Most of the AdSense experts advocate creating new niche sites based on a single keyphrase allowing the webmaster to dominate and claim most of the AdSense income for that keyphrase, except that starting a niche site takes time to be indexed and by the time it is, another stronger competitor might have entered the niche so success is not guaranteed.

    So it seems to me that using an existing domain, preferably one with PR, even if it isn't specifically focusing on related keywords would be a good start. For example, let's say I have a general site/blog with PR and bunch of pages what aren't performing but are somewhat related to the keyphrase I want to dominate. The domain has no keywords in it. Should I go for it, or create a new niche site and use the existing site to give the new site a quick boost in backlinks?

    Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool I can already see how powerful it is and finding keyprases with high CPC is easy. But, what is the optimum amount of volume that a new entrant to the niche should be looking at to stand a chance of dominating it with a new domain or unrelated established domain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by menj View Post
    Seems that the template is a factor in your Adsense earnings. Where did you get it and what is the template layout?
    That's not how I read Will's comment. He seems to be saying that template is not as big a factor as people think, and on some of his sites he gets 2% whereas others he can get as much as 30% and he believes this is due to picking the correct keyphrase to target.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elbandelero View Post
    Most of the AdSense experts advocate creating new niche sites based on a single keyphrase allowing the webmaster to dominate and claim most of the AdSense income for that keyphrase, except that starting a niche site takes time to be indexed and by the time it is, another stronger competitor might have entered the niche so success is not guaranteed.
    Those people are usually counting on Google's exact match bonus for their rankings. That's nice, if you can get the domain -- and if you are willing to pay for it.

    If a single keyword has enough traffic and revenue to justify building a niche, you're probably not going to get the domain for $9.

    Personally, I'd rather take the time to build authority domains and chase a lot of keywords with each domain.

    Quote Originally Posted by elbandelero View Post
    So it seems to me that using an existing domain, preferably one with PR, even if it isn't specifically focusing on related keywords would be a good start. For example, let's say I have a general site/blog with PR and bunch of pages what aren't performing but are somewhat related to the keyphrase I want to dominate. The domain has no keywords in it. Should I go for it, or create a new niche site and use the existing site to give the new site a quick boost in backlinks?
    How far are the new keywords from the existing theme of the site? If a Google Quality Rater could look at the new pages and think "these pages belong here", I think you're good. On the other hand, pages about Viagra on a site about your hometown -- not so good.

    The answer also depends upon how serious you are about the new niche. If it's going to be a page or two, then it makes more sense to dump them onto a related site. If you're going to build hundreds of pages of new content and become an authority in that niche -- build a new site.

    Quote Originally Posted by elbandelero View Post
    Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool I can already see how powerful it is and finding keyprases with high CPC is easy. But, what is the optimum amount of volume that a new entrant to the niche should be looking at to stand a chance of dominating it with a new domain or unrelated established domain?
    I can't really think in terms of "optimum", I can only think in terms of better and worse. But also, I'm not sure that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the best tool for evaluating the competitive landscape for a keyword or set of keywords.

    For a large list of kewords, WordTracker is good at performing high-quantity low-quality competitive analysis. For a single keyword, like the domain name, competitive analysis should be performed manually by performing a Google search and analyzing the top ten search results.

    Quote Originally Posted by menj View Post
    Seems that the template is a factor in your Adsense earnings. Where did you get it and what is the template layout?
    That seems like the exact opposite of the lesson here. The sites both use the same template, which shows that the template is not a factor in the wildly differing click through ratios.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will.Spencer View Post
    That seems like the exact opposite of the lesson here. The sites both use the same template, which shows that the template is not a factor in the wildly differing click through ratios.
    This is quite true, though there is one other important factor that might mix the variables even more, which is the visitor referral.

    When a visitor comes from a Search Engine you'll have a much higher CTR than when he gets to your site coming from a direct type in or link referral.
    The search engine rule doesn't apply to images, for example, images.google.com is the worst referrer I have - people looking for images just don't click on ads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shenron View Post
    This is quite true, though there is one other important factor that might mix the variables even more, which is the visitor referral.

    When a visitor comes from a Search Engine you'll have a much higher CTR than when he gets to your site coming from a direct type in or link referral.
    The search engine rule doesn't apply to images, for example, images.google.com is the worst referrer I have - people looking for images just don't click on ads.
    This is very true. I didn't mention it in my original post because it's not directly related to niche.

    Image search traffic has the worst CTR. Slashdot/Digg/StumbleUpon is almost as bad.

    Search engine traffic is the best, but not all search engines are equal. Yahoo traffic is much better than Google traffic and MSN traffic is the best. I once looked at stats for 300k page views and Yahoo users were almost twice as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad. MSN users were closer to three times as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will.Spencer View Post
    This is very true. I didn't mention it in my original post because it's not directly related to niche.

    Image search traffic has the worst CTR. Slashdot/Digg/StumbleUpon is almost as bad.

    Search engine traffic is the best, but not all search engines are equal. Yahoo traffic is much better than Google traffic and MSN traffic is the best. I once looked at stats for 300k page views and Yahoo users were almost twice as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad. MSN users were closer to three times as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad.
    I've been noticing that about referrers, in particular Entrecard and StumbleUpon. So far Digg users have been clickers but not in great enough volumes for me to want their traffic, mostly because they tend to increase my bounce rate.

    I wasn't aware of the increased CTR from Yahoo or MSN, might have to research optimizing for them

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    Dr. Stavros is offline Net Builder
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    I'd have to agree about the traffic from Digg, Stumbleupon, etc. These people are bored, and are looking for something funny and/or interesting to occupy them for a while. Why would they click on ads? They're not looking to buy anything specific and neither are they really looking for any specific information; they wouldn't be digging or stumbling if that were the case. It's nice for the traffic boost, and there may be some webmasters in there who might eventually link to your page, but it's not the magic solution!
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    keryanjames is offline Newbie Net Builder
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    Yahoo traffic is much better than Google traffic and MSN traffic is the best. I once looked at stats for 300k page views and Yahoo users were almost twice as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad. MSN users were closer to three times as likely as Google users to click an AdSense ad.
    Well, well! This is an important information to know. Until now, I barely paid attention to those two search engines even if I made an account for their shared Webmaster tool (Yahoo and Bing). I used it only once. At least that tip woke me up. Thank you for this remark

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