Tuesday, November 01, 2005 | 10:11:00 AM
You might make frequent changes to the position and design of your ads, but it isn't often that you completely redesign your website. The next time your site is due for a full makeover, take a tip from Engineeringtalk and incorporate what you've learned from your AdSense optimization.
Engineeringtalk has been a successful AdSense publisher since June 2003. When the site's old design needed a rethink, the team went back to basics on the site navigation and structure. Realizing that the vast majority of visitors reached the site through search engines, editor Chris Rand wondered: "Why are we prioritizing on helping visitors find their way around the site when they've already come straight in to what they're looking for?" Moving site navigation from the prime ad positions - across the top and down the side - to a more logical place gave the team more options for ad placement.
Next, the team experimented with AdSense designs, focusing on optimization through typography and placement. They found the biggest influence on CTR was the similarity between the AdSense type (size and font), and the main body text of the page. The more similar the type, the higher the CTR.
The Engineeringtalk team found little difference in CTR between between left-versus-right positioning. So they opted for the right side, which proved useful a few months later, when the final piece of the jigsaw arrived - the introduction of link units. After another round of testing, it was no surprise that the link units worked best in the "prime position" as seen on the "heatmap". The new design can be seen here.
From his experience, Chris learned that it's best to incorporate your ads into redesign discussions right from the start. After experimenting with a new redesign he walked away with this new perspective:
“The recommended positions for AdSense ads are a great place to start, but don't assume they'll automatically be the best for your site, which is unique. Even more important, however, is the relationship between the typography of the AdSense ads and your site's design. Ask yourself if your website's current fonts, font sizes and colors are really that important to you, or if you'd be prepared to change them for better AdSense results!"