I have often spoken at conferences about how some websites are too “AdSense heavy”. Now, this isn’t so much about using all the available ad units per page – although this can sometimes be a factor depending on the ad unit placement – but rather leaving a visitor with the impression you are only wanting them on the site in hopes they click an AdSense ad to leave. And while some publishers, particularly those doing arbitrage, are quite happy with the “Click an AdSense ad and get off my site already” approach, for those hoping for more than one page view per visit, this approach isn’t really the best one 😉
What is AdSense heavy?
So what makes a site AdSense heavy? One dead giveaway is having two large or medium rectangles above the fold, so a visitor cannot even see the actual content without hitting page down at least once. A second common AdSense heavy implementation is using an AdSense frame – meaning while you might see content above the fold, it is framed on all four sites by AdSense ad units and ad links. Too often though, publishers are either blinded to the fact they are too AdSense heavy, or they made the implementation and kind of forgot about what they did, since it is a site they seldom ever visit themselves.
Testing for Heaviness
A quick test is to make a second copy of one of your most popular pages, and anywhere you have an AdSense ad unit or ad link unit, make an image the same size as each ad unit, and make the color an obnoxious shade of orange or hot pink. Then swap out the AdSense for the colored images, and what do you see? Do you feel you are being hit over the head with said obnoxious color? Or does it seem to be more of a smattering of color on your website? If you are being hit over the head, it is probably time to evaluate those ad units, and make sure they are all working for you, and get rid of the duds for more whitespace or for something else in its place.
Earning the most with the least
So when you have multiple AdSense ad units per page and you are thinking that you might want to get rid of some of the excess, you need to make sure you are tracking the revenue properly, so you know exactly which ad units are the ones that are performing well, and which ones barely get any clicks. If you are unsure how to do this, I have full instructions on how to tell which ad units are the best performing ones for you at Does your Highest CTR AdSense Ad Unit Have the Best Spot for Revenue. And yes, it will also tell you how to ensure the ad unit you have with the most clicks is actually placed so it will make you the maximum amount of money possible. Ideally, you want to make the most money with the least amount of ads on the site as possible, so you have the right balance of ads to content.
Too focused on the money at all costs?
Sometimes publishers become so focused on the goal of making as much money as possible in any way possible that it completely turns off readers. This will cost you both potential new subscribers and visitors, as well as current and recurring ones. If you fear this may have become you, I just wrote a new article Have You Become Too Money Obsessed With Your Blog? So make sure you aren’t that person!
You can also easily do some usability testing, with a particular emphasis on the advertising on your site, both for AdSense and other advertising you are using. You can see what kind of impression you are leaving… if someone is commenting that “wow, this site has ads everywhere” and you aren’t an arbitrage site (and let’s face it, there aren’t many arbitragers out there who do much in the way of usability testing on their arbitrage sites!) you should definitely re-evaluate your ads, and perhaps ask your testers which ads seemed to be most annoying to them.
Supplementing AdSense with other ads
Don’t forget that your sweet spot might be a single AdSense ad unit which you supplement with another affiliate ad. For more on this, read Supplementing AdSense with Affiliate Ads.
It is always a good refresher to go through your sites and double check them for AdSense heaviness, and doing testing to see which ones are worth keeping and which ones can be eliminated so you can have a cleaner webpage or blog.