Inside Online Advertising
By Diggers Realm

Testing Which AdSense Ads Will Show Up On Your Content Pages

So you're writing some nice content for a website that fits into a niche. You've done all the writing and spell checking and you've got your design all worked out. You've decided to go with Google AdSense for a little advertising on your page.


How can you be sure that the proper context related ads will appear on the page though? Well one way is to throw the pages up and reload and see what appears, but as I quickly found out this is a bad mistake!

When I was designing Our Family Adventure, which is a website I put together from content originally published on Diggers Realm about our family road trip across America, I worked out the design and reworked and rewrote some of the content.

In my hurry to get something up on the web that I could see and to help in designing, I had mistakenly left the META Keywords from Diggers Realm in the design! Now reading around the web you'd come to the conclusion that the search engines don't use META tags, but I'm telling you now they do! Or at least Google AdSense does.

I loaded up the homepage to have a look. Low and behold my family adventure website was adorned with immigration reform ads from Google! Aww lovely I thought to myself. So I went about working on the content, doing a little bolding on the keywords I felt were relative in the content here and there. I fixed the META keywords to something proper and saved it up.

I reloaded the page and BAM nothing changed. I hope my visitors who are looking for information on travel and trips are interested in the huge immigration problem in this country I thought.

How to fix this problem?

Well it turns out that yesterday I was browsing around and found this great article by Eric Giguere on targeting your AdSense a little more to your content. Boy did he read my mind, but he was about a week too late!

About developing your pages in a separate folder: one benefit to this approach is that you can place ads on your pages right away. If the ads aren't well-targeted, you can use section targeting and some careful rewriting to massage the page content to show the right ads. After the rewriting, you simply rename the folder and load up the pages in the browser again, causing the AdSense crawlers to come revisit the page (since the page URL is now different). You can do this as many times as you want until the targeting is just right, and then you move all the files to the root of the site.

Eric Has a great guide on creating niche websites called AdSense Case Study and it follows his development of a website on Invisible Pet Fence's from scratch. He starts with content then design all the way up to this part on making sure the content is readable for contextual ads by Google. You should really read it, it's very interesting.

Anyway, getting back to my problem. I had put the site in it's final location from the start and now Google AdSense had already crawled it. There was no going back. The only thing I could do at this point was to wait for a recrawl (which eventually did happen days later).

So, Eric recommends that you develop the the site in a separate directory before you move them to the final location.

In an entry today Eric follows up with one way of solving the problem I had above.

Here's the trick: any change to the URL will cause a recrawl. In other words, if I access a page using this URL:

Then simply adding a query parameter to the URL causes a recrawl:

This is fine if you're talking about one or two pages, but I had 13-15 pages and that would have taken a lot more time than I thought would be necessary. You see I'm an automation guru. I've been on the web coding since 1995 and programming since I was about 8, back in the days of Atari and Commodore. If there's a way to automate things I'll find it!

This got me to thinking, I mean if you're developing your site by hand or FTPing the page up this is a no brainer, but what if you're using blogging software or a content management solution?

I figured out an answer and that is categories!

Most blogs allow you to have the directory structure come out like DOMAIN/CATEGORY/page.html

So you can create a category called "test1" make the pages there (or move existing pages into that category with some sort of power editing mode). After you view them and change things a bit you can change the category name (say to "test2") and rebuild. The pages should now be in the test2 category. After you view them and go through the site and make changes you can change the category name again, rebuild and keep tweaking until you're happy.

If your blogging software keeps the final name the same for some reason -- some will keep the name the same even if you edit it in case you have incoming links -- you can always create the new category and then move the pages under that category rather than just changing the category name.

It's then simpler to go through the pages without having to dicker with the URL manually. When you're finally finished you can change your blogging software back to using DOMAIN/page.html, or into their final category or however you want to do it.

After I made comments at Eric's entry on this he did make this important note:

... you'd want to be careful that those bogus categories don't end up in your blog feed or are otherwise visible to the end user. Especially if Technorati comes crawling when you're in the middle of testing some postings.

So there you have it, a pretty easy way to see what ads and whether they're relevant on your pages before you go live!

Have any other suggestions? Comment below!

This entry is in the following archive(s):
Advertising Archive
Google AdSense Archive

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Posted on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Email This | Blogroll IOA! |


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