It's week four of our five-week educational series about speeding up your business in a slowdown, which we kicked off three weeks ago. Today, you'll hear tips from Mel Ann and Tim, two AdSense Optimization Specialists from our Sydney, Australia office as they take you through a complete optimization. The series will conclude next week with tips to attract more advertiser spend. Keep on commenting with your own suggestions for growing your business! You can also follow the series at

Mel Ann and Tim are two AdSense Optimization Specialists from the Google office in Sydney, who work with publishers to help them improve the performance of their ads. Today, they'll walk you through a 5-step process to optimize the AdSense ads on your sites, and will also share tips that many publishers have found successful.

Step 1: Analyze your webpages

The first step to a successful optimization is to analyze your webpages. Ask yourself the following questions as you think about where to place ads on your site:
  • What type of content do you have? People interact differently on articles, forum, and video sites, for example, so think about how people will be interacting on your site.
  • Where is visitor attention likely to be focused? You should place ads where your users are most likely to look, but as Ricardo Prada mentioned in week two of this series, make sure that they won't get in the way of users trying to complete tasks on your site.
  • How can you integrate ads into an area without getting in the way of your users? You can view a heat map we've put together showing where ads perform well, and keep in mind that above the fold ads and ads close to primary content tend perform better.
  • Don't forget to think about how advertisers would like to appear. If you can make your site more appealing to advertisers, while keeping the above tips in mind, you're more likely to be able to attract advertisers and placement targeted ads.
Step 2: Set up custom channels

Custom channels will help you figure out how different ad units are performing based on a number of variables you can choose, like placement, size, and color. Create a channel for individual ad units and categorize them to see how they're performing. For example, you can track your leaderboard and medium rectangle to see which performs better, and use this information in step four below. Custom channels will also allow you to track and measure results from your optimizations.

Step 3: Optimize your ad unit design and placement

The next step is to look at color, position, and size of your ad units and optimize these for user experience, advertiser experience, and performance. We've found that the medium rectangle (300 x 250), wide skyscraper (160 x 600), and the leaderboard (728 x 90) tend to perform best. You can also opt in to image ads to receive rich media and video ads, which tend to perform well too. It's important that you implement your ads in a consistent manner and in a way that is desirable to advertisers. Use colors effectively. Blend ads in, but not too much that users don't see them. Borderless ads tend to work well, as does highlighting the link and URL. Test different colors and placements, and then keep the changes that perform best.

Step 4: Maximize revenue from multiple units

We recommend adding multiple ad units to your pages, while still keeping the user experience in mind when deciding on placements. You can use custom channel reporting to determine which ad unit performs best, and structure your page to optimize performance based on that. The highest paying ad we have for your site will be shown in the first ad unit that shows up in your HTML code. If you have a leaderboard at the top, but learn with custom channel reporting that a medium rectangle halfway down the page is outperforming it in terms of CTR and eCPM, try putting the medium rectangle first in your HTML code. You can do this by switching the location in the HTML if you're comfortable editing the code, or by changing the actual location of the leaderboard on the page.

Step 5: Track and measure results

The last step is to understand whether your optimizations have made a difference. Here, use the custom channels you set up earlier to generate reports on your different ad units. Generate reports on your custom channels and group results by channel (remember, this depends on how you've set them up) to see how different sizes, colors, and placements are performing. You can also look at placement targeting reports to see which ad units are receiving placement-targeted ads, and if they've resulted in improved performance.

We hope these steps and tips are informative, and strongly encourage you to take the time to try an optimization on your own.

Additional Resources:
  • We'll be re-hosting the optimization webinar from last month again on Thursday, July 23 at 11am PST. Sign up if you're interested in attending.
  • You can also see valuable information in Analytics after linking your AdSense and Analytics accounts.
  • For more advanced optimization, you can use Website Optimizer to run live experiments based on ad placement, format and more.