samedi 10 mars 2012

How To Choose The Best Colors And Fonts

Neutral, dark colors such as black, maroon, dark blue, dark green and olive, etc. work the best for me. Stay away from “exotic” and light colors.

ALWAYS keep the background color for the main body white. White background, black text is the tried and tested combination across the internet.
Don’t mess with it.

I always keep the links in the main body blue and underlined. What shade of blue you use is entirely your decision, but I prefer a darker shade (the standard blue is #0000FF).
In the sidebar, I keep all the links white and underlined. Visited links are kept
gray.
My fonts of choice are Arial and Tahoma. Arial is the “universal” font found on every computer and is used on a vast majority of sites. It provides a high level of readability, looks decent, and will match perfectly with the Adsense ads.

Effectively Using WordPress

As I’ve mentioned before, static pages outperfo rm blog posts by a big margin when it co mes to AdSense. But because I’m a big fan of Wordpress, and because I find HT ML terribly difficult to update, we have to use pages in
Wordpress to achieve out desired look.
How to do this?

Simple: instead of making new posts in Wordpress, we make pages. All our content goes in the ‘pages’ section. Then, from the ‘Reading’ section in the ‘Settings’ menu, we just have to choose a static page as our homepage.



This will give you a static site with all the power of Wordpress.
In the above examples, we used a 336x280 Large Rectangle ad unit directly below the article title. To place the ad there, we will have to modify the theme.

To do this, just click on ‘Editor’ in the ‘Appearance’ menu:



Then, click on ‘Page Template’ from the right hand side menu in the Editor:


Look for the place where the first heading ends (usually after the tag),and insert your Adsense code there:


This would vary by theme, but if you use the themes bundled with this eBook, this is where you will find the heading.
[Tip: I recommend using a plugin like ‘Advertising Manager’ for Wordpress to make managing ads a bit more easier:
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/advertising-manager/]
You also want to disable all comments since it distracts from the content andgives an additional escape route to the visitors.
Just go to ‘Settings -> Discussion

The Layouts Exp2 and 3

Exp2

The above layout is great for mini-sites with just a handful of pages. What about larger sites with 30+ pages?

In such a case, we simply incorporate a menu into the layout and keep everything else the same. The navigation unit (list of pages) and link unit is removed from the sidebar. The rest of the layout remains the same.


Let’s take a look at a real world example of such a layout.


As you can see, the layout remains largely the same. The only difference is that we now have a drop-down menu, and the sidebar has just one ad unit.
Such a layout gives a slightly lower CTR than the first one, but for larger sites with dozens of pages, it is pretty effective.

Exp3

This example is also good for mini-sites in certain niches. I don’t recommend it over the other first layout, but if you want some variety, you can give it a shot:

I have said it before and I will say it again: blogs do not convert as well as static pages. However, if you absolutely have to use a blog style layout, make sure you get a clean, flexible template. One such template I highly recommend is the Thesis Theme from DIYThemes.com. Another good theme is the Heat
Map Theme at
http://heatmaptheme.com/

An important factor you must keep in mind is to never put up the whole post on the homepage. Instead, use Wordpress’s inherent functionality to show just a snippet o f the post with a link to “Read More”. Take a look at

TechCrunch.com to understand what I’m talking about:


This would compel the visitor to click on the “Read More” button to get the full post. This has two advantages:
1. It increases your page views. If you were to sell ads based on CPM in the future, this would come very handy.
2. On the full post page, you could display an ad directly below the article headline, like in a static page.

You can break down a post in Wordpress by simply editing a post, placing the cursor at the desired spot where you want to break down the post, and clicking the “Insert More tag” button:


For any future sites you make, try to use pages instead of posts – you will see a much better CTR that way.

The Layouts Exp1

The Layouts

In this section, we will discuss some website layouts that have been proven to give a high CTR across different niches. I will give you a diagram of the layout and discuss why that particular layout is successful in getting a high CTR Please note that the colors used in the layouts below are for illustrative purposes only. Your final design would incorporate different colors (use the included themes as a guide).

Example 1

In this example, we will look at a layout for a mini-site with a dozen or so
pages. Such sites can be highly lucrative even with very little traffic and give
you very high CTRs, sometimes even going above 20%


This is a simple two column layout with three Adsense units: a 336x280 large rectangle, a 160x600 wide skyscraper, and a 160x90 Adsense link unit. It is my most successful layout to date and I use it across most of my sites.
The height of the header is between 100-150px, and the sidebar is between 180-200px wide. The main body area is between 600 to 620px in width The header is sparse, largely text based. You can use a logo, but keep the


graphics to a minimum. Make sure that the header has a dark background (more on colors later).

The sidebar is just wide enough to inco rporate a 160x600 Wide Skyscraper ad unit. The sidebar should be of a dark color, but preferably lighter than the header.
The navigation unit is made up of a list of pages on the website. This is the only element you should have in the sidebar, besides the ads. Y ou can also put in a blogroll, but make sure that you bury it at the bottom, beneath the ads.

The main body of the layout has a white background with black text. Immediately below the article title we have a large ad unit that immediately draws the attention of the visitor.
Why does this layout work?

Because when a visitor comes to your site, he has just four options:
1. Click on the main ad unit (336x280 Large Rectangle beneath the headline).
2. Click on one of the ad units in the sidebar.
3. Click through to another page.
4. Leave the site.
By minimizing the number of escape routes and distracting links, we literally compel the visito r to click on an ad. In fact, by getting him to click on an relevant ad, we are probably helping him find the correct solution to whatever problem he wanted to solve.
The largest ad unit, the 336x280 Large Rectangle is placed directly between the article title and article body. Thus, if the visitor was looking for a “cure for acne” and he sees an ad directly beneath the article title promising such a cure, there is a high likelihood he would click through on that ad. The 336x280
Large Rectangle is one of the highest converting ad units and will make up for the bulk of the clicks. The other two ad units are there just to minimize the escape routes.
Such a layout is also very clean and puts the content up front. There is just one large ad unit in the main content area. The article isn’t cluttered up with multiple ad units that obscure your content. The end result is a happy visitor who gets the information he wants, while still bringing you the ad money.
A few additional tips:
Tip 1:
You can try centering the 336x280 Large Rectangle ad unit by
wrapping the Adsense code inlike this:
[Your Adsense code]
In some niches, this can give a higher CTR.
Tip 2:
As a general rule of the thumb, if you put the navigation (i.e. the list of pages) below the first 160x600 Wide Skyscraper ad unit, you will see a higher CTR at the cost of usability. By placing the navigation elements below the ads, you are literally forcing the visitor to click on an ad. If you want to focus a bit more on usability, I would suggest placing the navigation elements at the top of the sidebar.

Thus, you could have one layout like this with the ads above the navigation elements:


And another layout with the navigation elements above the ads (higher usability, slightly lower CTR)


Let’s take a look at a real world example of such a layout:


The background is a neutral shade of gray. The number of colors in this theme are very few – black, white, dark red, and gray. T he ads are placed in such a way as to invite clicks. At the same time, the content hasn’t been obscured by the ads.
The footer is pretty simple with a black backgro und and white text. The privacy policy, contact page, sitemap and about page go here.

The Best AD Formats For My Website

Use Image Sparingly

Carrying on with the idea of minimizing noise, as an AdSense marketer, you should strive to use as few ads as possible. Too many Adsense marketers make
the mistake of completely littering their site with ads. Goo gle allows for 3 Adsense text and/o r image ads, 3 Adsense link units, and one Adsense for
search unit per page. Just because they allow for 7 different ads on a page doesn’t mean that you have to use all of them. The less ads you have the better.
Why?
Because just like with AdWords, Google displays the highest paying or highestn performing ads first. Thus, if you have just one ad unit, your visitors will see
the highest paying ads first, giving you a higher CPC. With several ad units, the visitor may click on a low paying ad unit instead, lowering your average CPC.
Not only that, more ad units can confuse the visitor and give your site a messymlook. I personally never use mo re than 1-3 Adsense units on a page.

Images, for all that they are worth, actually distract a visitor from your contentand the ads. With AdSense, I consider images as another part of “noise” and avoid them as much as possible. If it can be said purely through text, then say it through text. Use images only when it is absolutely necessary.
If you absolutely have to use images, make sure to place them at the end of your post. The “above the fold” section should have just your article title, AdSense and main article visible. Any images or extra elements should go at the bottom of the article.

Stick To The Tried And Tested AD Siezes

There’s a reason why ad formats like 300x250 Rectangle, or 336x280 Rectangle are the most popular: they have been proven to perform consistently across a wide variety of sites. The best performing ad sizes are:
336x280 Large Rectangle
160x600 Wide Skyscraper
300x250 Medium Rectangle
We will discuss the exact layouts for getting high CTRs later in the guide. For now, you should stick to only these three formats.

Use Link Units Judiciously

Adsense Link Units can be a powerful source of revenue, provided you know how to use them properly. Don’t just place them randomly around your site.
The power of link units lies in the fact that they look like navigation elements.
Place them in positions where a visitor might think of them as such and click them.
I never use more than one link unit on a page.

Stand Out ,Dont Blend In

Take cue from the section on minimizing noise, one way of getting people to pay attention to your ads is to make them stand out just a little. Like I said, noise can be used to your advantage.
One advice almost any Adsense marketer will give you is to “blend” the ads with your site’s layout and design. They will tell you to have the same link color as the other links on your website, the same background, border, etc
However, in my experience, making the ads stand out usually leads to more clicks than making them blend in. You want the visitor to be attracted to an ad and click it instinctively. By blending the ad into the general design of your site, you are invariably making him ignore the ads and consider it a part of
your content.
I’ll give you the exact ad colors to use later, but for now, you should just know that dark blue (#0000FF) is recognized across the internet as the color for links. Use this to your advantage by making your Ad units in this color.

Your CTR Vary From Niche To Niche

Anybody who has spent even a couple of months making websites will know that no two sites are the same, and no two niches will give the same conversion rates. With AdSense, your CTR can vary wildly across different niches. A
product based keyword such as “faux leather handbags” might give a far better CTR than an information based keyword like “how to use FTP software”. Don’t expect the same results from every niche. The audience for each niche, each keyword is unique. Consequently, your results will vary from niche to niche.
You will learn more about niche selection in later chapters.

vendredi 9 mars 2012

Minimize The Noise

Noise was a big feature of site design before Google happened. Do yo u remember those sites from 1999 full of text and links and images and banners?

Of course you do – if you are a web designer, you probably have nightmares about it.
But then Google happened. Do you remember the joy (and the surprise/shock) of seeing a simple page with a large logo and a search box? While other search engines of that era (AltaVista, Yahoo, etc.) were full of pictures and banners, here was Google in all its Spartan glory. No wonder people took to it like a fish to water. Not only did it have a superior search product, it offered the one thing other sites didn’t: noise
What exactly do I mean by noise?
It’s somewhat difficult to describe such a term since it can mean different things to different people. To me, noise means anything – a design element, a color, a link, a banner – that distracts from the main site content.
A color that doesn’t fit in with the overall site design, a text link that just doesn’t go along with the site’s font structure, a banner that just seems out of place, excessive flash animation, a jarring color – all these elements make up noise.
If you were (are) a member of MySpace, I’m pretty sure you know what I’m
talking about. Here’s an example, just in case:

Jarring colors, animated background...these are all elements that create noise
and distract from the content. Contrast this with the site design for NYT:


Sure, there are tons of links, but everything seems harmonious, in place.
Nothing “pops out” and grabs your attention excessively.
Noise is not the same thing as escape routes. An escape route is merely something that takes your visitor away from your site. Noise, on the other hand, is something that distracts your visitor and probably makes him click
the browser back button and head on to something else.
Do a quick analysis of your site design and identify any elements that might contribute to your site noise. Is your logo of a color that doesn’t match with the whole site? Are there excessive banners on your site? Do the images seem too big and appear abruptly in the middle of the content? It shouldn’t take you very long to identify the source of the noise and rectify.
For us AdSense marketers, noise can also be a very good thing. Noise, by virtue of its very definition, attracts a visitor’s attention. So rather than letting him get distracted by a flash banner of a jumping dog, why not distract him with your AdSense ad? In the later sections, you will learn how you should make your ads stand out from the overall design to attract attention to them.
Reduce the noise in your site design. Increase the noise in your ads.
Simple enough...

Blogs vs Static Pages

I’m a big proponent of Wordpress. Not only is it extremely easy to use and set up, it is also very powerful and can be made to do pretty much anything.
No wonder that top blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable run on this software
At its very core, however, Wordpress is a blogging platform. But blogs, by virtue of their very nature, are designed for
readership. Most blog themespromote browsing and reading. They provide multiple escape routes, have a
lot of content and update regularly to keep visitors coming back. If you are trying to build up a loyal reader base, nothing can beat a blog.Take a look at the po pular blog, CopyBlogger.com:


This is a great blog design (built on the Thesis theme from DIYThemes.com), but look at the number of “escape” routes (marked by red arrows). That’s a lot of ways for a visitor to get distracted. No wonder this site isn’t monetized by AdSense.
As AdSense marketers, our goal is to get a visitor to click on an ad and leave the site as quickly as possible. We don’t want him lingering on, browsing through our content and eventually leaving the site. For this purpose, blogs, unfortunately, are not the ideal solution.
When it comes to AdSense, static pages convert much, much better than blogs. Sure, some marketers would tell you that it is not so, but if you take the same design, in the same niche, a static site would easily outperform a blog. This is the reason why all guru sales letters are long, static pages with minimum escape routes (just one link – the “add to cart” button).
Since I’m such a big fan of Wordpress, I like to use it to make static sites. You will learn more about this in the later sections, but I would just like to say upfront: static sites convert much better than blogs. So make sure that the next site you launch is static, not a blog (you can still use Wordpress, though).

Minimize The Escape Routes




What do I mean by an “escape” route?

Virtually anything that can get your visitor away from your site (and thus, your ads) would be described as an escape route. A link to another site, an image slideshow, a banner promoting an affiliate product...if it can distract your visitor from the ads, you want to remove it from your site.
Have you ever seen a squeeze page? Here’s an example of one:

This squeeze page has no links other than the email opt-in form. It is designed for one single purpose only: to “squeeze” the email from a visitor. In the hands of a good mark eter, such pages can give conversions above 50% easily. Do you now understand why it’s called a “squeeze” page and not a “click-around-aimlessly” page?
When making your sites, you should follow a similar mentality. This means that you must try to “squeeze” clicks from your visitors by minimizing thenumber of escape ro utes. Ideally, your page should have just your article, a list of pages on your site (the navigation menu), the ads, and a foo ter. A visitor coming to your site should have just three options:
1. Click through to another page on your site
2. Click on an ad
3. Press the ‘back’ button and go to another site
You want to make sure that he chooses either option 1 or 2. Give him engaging content that will prevent him from pressing the back button. Limit his options so that he is literally compelled to click on the ads. Following these simple steps can increase your CTR dramatically.