Tag Archives: Google

New AdSense Matched Content Ads

I started getting emails from Google saying that my sites are eligible for “Matched content.”

According to Google, Matched content is “a free recommendation tool offering you a simple way to promote your content to your site visitors.”

Okaaaaayyy….

By switching on the “Monetize with ads” feature you can also display targeted native-style ads.

Ah ha! Now, I understand what is going on.

New AdSense Ads Mimics Outbrain and Others

You have probably noticed at the bottom of many websites you visit there are some ads that are different than the others. Instead of advertising products, these ads suggest other stories or webpages you can read. Here is an example from the hyper-monetized Denver Post website.

matched content ads google adsense

I don’t know exactly how those ads work, or what kind of revenue they generate, but you can bet that Google, the king of all online advertising sees dollars that are getting away, and they aren’t going to stand for that. This new product offers a similar design and setup, but with a twist to make it more friendly for publishers.

How Google Matched Content Works

Unlike the Outbrain-type ads that send readers away from your page, the Matched content ads are pitched by AdSense as a way to keep readers on your site. The idea is that those “ad” spaces are filled up with links to other webpages on your own site. In fact, Google notes that it will ONLY match the same site, even if you have several websites on the same Google AdSense account.

Now, you can “opt-into” monetizing these matched content ads, in which case Google will replace one or more of your own site’s matches with an ad. The idea is that a particularly well-matched ad would draw more targeted visitors (Good for Google and advertisers), while a less well-matched ad would be ignored in favor of your own content (If they stick around maybe they’ll click a different ad later). Whether this is good or bad, depends on how you view your content.

Obviously, AdSense has no interest in people NOT clicking ads, so look for the whole don’t-monetize option to go away in favor of monetized, or nada.

How To Use Matched Content On Your Site

How to setup Matched content on your site is pretty much the same as for any ad. You create a new ad unit. You pick Matched content and then you name the ad and chose your options for how the ad is displayed. Then, you copy and paste the code onto your page where you want it to display.

Google recommends you insert the Matched content ad units directly below your content, or in the sidebar.

The matched content ads DO count as an ad slot toward your ad limit. After I pasted in the code on some pages, the last ad on pages that were at the maximum number of ads already the page went blank.

A Matched content example, or sample Matched content ad looks like this. The two things highlighted in yellow are the ads. The rest are links to my own articles, on that same site.

matched content sample example

How Well Does Matched Content Work?

What you really want to know is can I make more money with Matched content ads?

I don’t know yet, this is the first day I have them set up, but I’ll keep an eye on them and then post back when I have some data.

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Earn Money Writing Online with Ads

It takes more than just fancy flying.

Read to earn money by writing online? Selling advertising to monetize your published content online is one of many ways to make money by writing online. It is also one of the most popular thanks to being able to generate passive income for a long time without the need to do any additional work. That is the theory, anyway.

The catch to making money with Google AdSense once you have been approved or another advertising network is that people have to click on the ads you display.

Technically, that is not true since there are advertising programs that will pay you based on how many times an ad is shown, something known as cost per impression, or CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Unfortunately, the pay rates for CPM or impression-based ads are typically very low. Without tens of thousands of pageviews these ads won’t generate enough money to cover your morning cup of coffee.

When it comes to CPC or cost per click, advertising, the need for high amounts of traffic is much lower. One can actually make very good money on just a few thousand visitors per month provided you generate the right kind of content, that content ranks highly, and most important of all, that content leads people to click on the advertisements displayed.

It is that last piece that trips up most people. Just because something is popular, just because you rank #1 in Google for that keyword, and just because you get a million hits per day, doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is clicking on the advertisements displayed on your website. The fact is that certain types of people click on ads and certain types of people do not. One area that trips up a lot of new writers looking to build an online money making business writing, is that the more technilogically savvy a user group is, the less likely they are to EVER click on an ad.

Think it through.

A techie user most likely abandoned Internet Explorer for a better browser years ago. That same user almost certainly has taken advantage of the more powerful browser’s ability to use extensions by installing those that make surfing the Internet faster and easier. The first plug-in on that list is an ad blocking plugin, which means that not only are technically savvy readers not clicking on Google ads, they are never even seeing them in the first place.  This is not good news for those of us who are professional technical freelance writers.

In other words, if you want to make money writing with Google AdSense or any other advertising program, you will also need to write about non-technical topics.

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optimize google adsense experiments

Google AdSense Optimizations

Once you have started earning some money with Google AdSense, you may get some notifications about various optimizations that you can do to “improve your earnings.” Do the Google AdSense optimizations really work? It depends upon the optimization and how it applies to your website.

Google Optimize Suggestions

Remember, that Google works best for Google. Those search results that are scraped information from other websites that appear on the search results page? That helps Google. The ads above the fold, and links to Google properties. That helps Google.

That is true for optimizing AdSense as well.

optimize google adsense experiments

The good news is that as an AdSense publisher, you get a cut of what Google earns putting ads on your website, so that puts you on the same team. However, that doesn’t necessarily make what Google suggests the best for you. It doesn’t mean that they are trying to reduce your earnings either. Remember that Google has an enormous number of websites to fill with ads. They think in the aggregate. You, however, think about what is best for your specific website.

For example, I have a freelance writing blog that I publish with tips and information for both freelance writers, and clients of freelance writers. The people this website are directed at are people doing freelance writing — or wanting to do freelance writing — now, which means that ads for colleges or other writing programs aren’t very effective on this website. Unfortunately, ads for writing courses were essentially filling up every ad slot on that blog.

This isn’t Google’s fault. The website is an educational website for writers, after all. However, the kinds of people reading it, generally won’t be the people looking to go to school to be writers, especially at the sketchy kinds of institutions that often show up in those particular AdSense ads.

I turned those ads off. Google allows you to restrict certain ads, or even ads from certain domains. Ironically, they don’t really provide this opportunity in order to let you maximize profits, so much as to prevent competitors from advertising on your own websites. For example, if I ran writing school, I wouldn’t want other writing schools publishing ads on my website. However, you can use the blocked ad categories as you see fit, and I block the Education & Training category. I blocked Ringtones and Downloads on my personal finance blog because those took a lot of impressions for little returns. (It makes sense that people looking to improve their finances aren’t dropping money on costly ringtones, right?)

This bugs Google AdSense because it knows that overall, on its millions of sites, that these ads make money. But, you know your website better than Google, so should you trust your gut, or go with Google’s non-specific data?

Google AdSense Experiments

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose blindly. AdSense allows you to run optimization experiments. What it does is run half your impressions with those ads blocked, and the other half with them unblocked, and then it reports back how it affects your earnings, including things like number of clicks and cost per click. It does take a few days to fully run an experiment, but you can usually tell which way the data is going pretty quickly.

In my case, blocking the Education and Training category performed much better (+48%) than not blocking it. So, I kept it blocked.

However, it turns out unblocking the other subcategory, Job Listings, actually improved my earnings. I’m not in this for purity, so the block for those ads came off.

Click the Optimization tab from time to time to see what, if anything Google suggests. When they do make a suggestion, click that Experiments link and check it out. You may even want to repeat the experiment later on, especially if you writing focus changes.

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Google Update and Writing Online for Money

One of the keys to making money by writing online is to get enough traffic to your money making websites. Ranking highly in search engines for frequently searched terms is one way to accomplish this. While Google updates the algorithm that chooses how to rank websites on their search engine results pages (SERPs) on a frequent basis, most of those tweaks can be ignored by writers looking to profit by writing online. However, when the big updates come out, it is important to at least check and see how you are being affected.

Google Counting Links

There are really only two main parts to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The first part is how closely a particular webpage fits the phrase searched. In this case, the best thing is an exact match to the title tag of the webpage. Or, if there isn’t one of those, then an exact match to a header tag, and so on. Of course, a close match comes next, and so on.

search engine updates

In a place as big as the internet, there is a pretty good chance that for any given search term, there is more than one page that matches. When this happens, Google essentially counts how many links point to each page that matches and then ranks the one with the highest number of incoming links at the top.

Everything else Google does is basically a tweak to the above formula in order to keep people from cheating. Many of the supposed 200+ ranking factors at Google are nothing more than the increasing or decreasing the value of incoming links. Links that are nofollowed count a little less than those that are do follow. Links from comments are less valuable than those in the middle of content. Links from higher ranking sites count more than those from tiny abandoned sites, and so on.

As a writer building online websites to earn money, you probably check to see what you rank highly for, and how much traffic that drives to your website. For the most part, changes in these rankings come slowly and infrequently. That’s because, your site and the other sites that rank don’t necessarily gain a bunch of incoming links, without you (or them) doing something to manually boost them. When, that happens, it generally only happens to one page, so you’ll see your webpage go from ranking 4th to ranking 5th. That’s just normal.

Big Google Updates

But, sometimes, Google makes a big update and that can dramatically shake up the rankings. Not only can you go from 4th to 12th, or from 8th to 1st, on one page, that same thing can happen to multiple pages across several different websites.

It’s best to keep at least one ear open for these kinds of changes. A quick check of the headlines at seroundtable.com (it stands for Search Engine Roundtable) can let you know if a big algorithm update is underway, or if it’s just strange things afoot at the Circle K.

The important thing is not to panic. These changes often lead to big movements, but wait for them to settle down and see what is, and is not, permanent. Then, maybe go through, and update and tweak the pages that you lost some ranking on. Most importantly, keep adding fresh, useful content.

If there is one static thing in Google rankings it’s that the search engine values sites that are current over those that have gone stale, and that more content means more pages to attract links and gain authority.

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