Showing posts with label Optimisation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Optimisation. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chasing the perfect layout with AdSense for search

AdSense publisher Next Small Things has long understood that search is the entry point for users to find what they're looking for on the web. In fact, the idea for, a MySpace layout creation and customization site (and Next Small Things's largest business to date), came from the observation that many web surfers were using the company's search engine to find instructions to change their MySpace backgrounds. The observation and ensuing business idea has paid off, and in just one year has gained a loyal user base: over 200,000 users are now finding or creating layouts on the site every day. "CoolChaser has become a one-stop-shop for layouts because of the ease of use and the choice and ability for users to express what they feel at the time," says founder Chao Lam.

With over 20 million user-submitted layouts (and 3,000 created every hour), it was becoming increasingly difficult for users to find the layouts they were looking for. "We were getting a lot of requests from users to provide some sort of search mechanism so that they could easily find what they were looking for," developer Sachiko Kwan says. As an existing AdSense publisher, Kwan decided to try AdSense for search and was immediately impressed by the quick setup process and the accuracy of the results. With the new SiteSearch feature, Kwan was able to restrict the searches so users didn't have to leave the site to find what they were looking for. In addition, the new watermark feature allowed Kwan to add the search box without any rearrangement in the navigation bar.

Most recently, Lam and Kwan began optimizing their search for better performance and user experience. If a user wasn't creating a layout, they were looking for one. So Kwan moved the search box from the upper right corner of each page to the center of the header and also added a second search box to the bottom of every page, in case users who were done browsing needed to search again. On the search results page, she changed the ad borders to a lighter color to better blend in with the site's pages.

Within a week of making these changes, Lam and Kwan saw their daily search queries on CoolChaser increase by 40% and earnings more than double. Since implementing AdSense for search on CoolChaser, search has become the second most popular functionality behind creating layouts. Lam and Kwan continue to focus on user experience, and they are now working to refine search results using keywords and labels. "There's such an enormous variety of things people search for," Lam says. "AdSense for search is really working for us."

Have you had success with AdSense for search, or our new optimization tips? If so, we'd love to hear from you.

Optimizing your search box

Following on the five tips on AdSense for content optimization our Sydney team presented a couple weeks back, now let's turn to AdSense for search. As you may know, we recently integrated Custom Search Engine into AdSense for search to provide additional customization options and improved targeting. Whether you've already implemented an AdSense for search box on your site or you're just getting started with this feature, we recommend these five optimization tips:
  1. Place your search boxes in visible locations.

    Integrate your search boxes in easy-to-find locations, such as under the header or in your left navigation. Also, keep the placement of your search boxes consistent on all your pages, so users will know where to look if they need help finding something.

  2. Add two search boxes to content-rich pages.

    For pages with a lot of content or which require scrolling, try placing one search box at the top of the page and another at the bottom. A box at the top of the page will allow users to perform a search immediately, and a box at the bottom will provide a search option to users who've just finished reading your content. You can also track and compare the performance of each search box by creating custom channels.

  3. Host your search results on your own site.

    To keep users on your pages, you can host your search results and ads within your own pages. If your users don't find what they're looking for in the search results or ads, they'll still be able to to navigate to other sections of your site using your site's template. In addition, you can further integrate your search results into your site by customizing the colors of the results page.

  4. Add a search box to your search results pages.

    Similar to #3, try placing a search box on your search results pages so users can perform additional searches from your site.

  5. Customize your ad locations.

    Place ads at the top and right sidebar of your search results pages. This layout offers added visibility, and our tests have shown that these ad locations can improve monetization.
After you've optimized where search boxes are placed on your site, don't forget to try new targeting options such as keyword refinements and vertical search. To generate AdSense for search code and take advantage of these features, sign in and visit your AdSense Setup tab. You can also find more information in our Help Center.

Optimisation Essentials (Part II)

Dress for success - impressing your audience

The video below is the second in our "Optimisation Essentials" series, demonstrating our top three tips for maximising your AdSense for Content performance. Last week, we reinforced the importance of bigger ad units. This week, we're showcasing how a better ad unit design can result in improved AdSense performance.

*Please note that no leopards were harmed in the making of this video!

Over the years, we've seen some colourful ad unit designs. Some publishers design ad units that contrast with their site so that they stand out. Although this can work in some cases, we've found that ad units that match your site's design tend to perform better in terms of revenue and click-through-rate. Users are more likely to read ads when they're well integrated into your site.

When you design your AdSense ads, keep these tips in mind:
  • Use colours that either blend with or complement your site's colours. Make the ads a part of your site.
  • Use lighter colours for borders, or no border at all.
  • Try rotating colours or occasionally switching the location of your ads on the page.
  • Save sets of frequently-used colours as a palette.
So give your ad design and colours some thought, and you'll notice the difference!

Optimisation Essentials (Part I)

Bigger is better - for AdSense ad units

AdSense for content is the bread and butter of many of our publishers, and we often receive requests to recommend strategies to improve AdSense performance on publisher sites. While we refer to this as 'optimisation', we understand that this term can make the process sound more difficult than it really is. In response, we're releasing a three-part video series that demonstrates, in plain English, our top tips for increasing your AdSense earnings.

This week, we're recommending you think big - big ad units, that is:

Publishers often ask us what the best ad sizes are to include in their site's design, and we always point them to these three:
  • 300x250 medium rectangle
  • 728x90 leaderboard
  • 160x600 skyscraper
These ad units have proven in the past to deliver better results for both publishers and advertisers. Advertisers favour these formats, and if you've receiving all ad types, you'll find that advertisers will specifically target your sites more often. If you position your ad units well, users will be more likely to see these ad formats and find an ad that they're interested in.

When you're considering how to design your site, our testing has shown that displaying at least one of these ad formats on your page can increase your AdSense earnings potential. So remember, sometimes bigger is better!

Optimisation Essentials (Part III)

Position for performance - be noticed

This is the final video installment in our three-part series on Optimisation Essentials for AdSense for content. We've covered the best-performing ad unit sizes and taken a look at how to design your ad units for good-looking ads. However, even if you have large, well-designed ad units, they won't perform for you unless your users can see them!

So what can you do to ensure your ad units get noticed? Place your ads where users are likely to look.

We've also made a heatmap to show you where the best placements are on a typical page. Great positions include:
  • Above the fold of a page (the section of the page a user can see without scrolling)
  • At the end of an article
  • Aligned with content
But don't just take our word for it - every website is different. Make sure you use your judgment of how visitors interact with your pages to determine good ad placements. Position your ads so that they're visible, but be careful of intruding on the experience of your site's visitors. Most of all, think like a user and you'll be able to balance your website's content with a successful ad strategy.