Is your site too AdSense heavy?

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!

Usability testing

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. 

Don’t forget to sign up for the JenSense RSS feed as well as my Jennifer Slegg blog, where I talk a lot about blogging, SEO, SEM and making money outside of AdSense 😉

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12 comments to Is your site too AdSense heavy?

  • Jennifer, I don’t agree with you on that obsession. If one wants to earn as much as possible, he should maximize his income even if it comes at a price of having less visitors. I blog for money, so if I was given choice between having 100 visitors daily and earning $1 for each of them and having 80 visitors and earning $1.5 for each visitor, I’d choose the latter. 😉

  • The problem is how far over the line they go… when they hit the overboard point, they are going to lose far more than 20% of subscribers, and it will also hinder gaining new subscribers. So the impact does go far beyond that.

  • There is a premium publisher who google has used as a case study of an adsense success story who has up to 7 ad blocks

    now thats what i would call adsense heavy

  • There are definitely some premium publisher implementations that are quite good… but don’t forget that they have mant more options when it comes to customization than what regular publishers get :(

  • And a new JenSense post – Is Your Site Too AdSense Heavy? If you think it might be, it probably is 😉

  • RT @jenstar: And a new JenSense post – Is Your Site Too AdSense Heavy?

  • I understand that Jen but it does look spammy seeing as the site has its own ads on the same page as well

    plus the ads are blended which is one of the reasons google have been terminating publishers accounts over the last 12 months

    one rule for one and different rules for others 😉

  • I can guarantee that publishers are not being banned simply because their ads are being blended into their site design. There would have to be something else going on that got the account terminated, such as it being a spam site or inciting clicks.

  • I heard from about adsense misconceptions that works “view is many”in adsense placement is wrong idea,and at the other place it is said,that less adsense willmake more,well my question is for you,this is having only 1 “polite”adsense,my question is ,do you make “many “more then you put “fat adsense at your blog”please answer I keep searching and confused to chosed which format I should install in my adsense.
    thanks for answer

  • […] a webpage should have a maximum of 3-4 ads on a page, depending upon the rest of the content. In a blog post on a related topic, Jennifer suggests replacing your ads with boxes of the same size but making them an outrageous […]

  • @Jen,

    How it could be good for the arbitrage publishers? Google is still banning them for content quality, how it would be possible that Google will leave them for heavy adsense? Frankly, i don’t hink so..

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