If you’ve ever used Adsense to generate click-revenue, you’ll probably be aware of Google’s heatmap image which I’ve reproduced on the right…
The idea of the heatmap is to indicate at a glance which areas of a webpage get the most attention from visitors. You can see from the image that the upper area and lefthand side are particularly “hot”. This information can be used to increase the revenue a web-property generates by placing ads in those positions. If you don’t earn via advertising, you can still use the heatmap information to judge where best to place things like navigation menus to optimise your visitor’s site experience.
In a very interesting report, Michael Campbell has taken data from various different heatmaps, clickmaps and usability studies and done his own testing to figure out which of a set of 30 templates got the most clicks and made the most revenue. You can download his “Ultimate Heatmap, How To Triple Your Advertising Revenues Without Additional Traffic” free report on which templates worked best and why from here. There’s no opt-in required.
I would’ve liked to know how well the templates fared over time because it’s my understanding that Google uses Smart Pricing so that different site owners earn different amounts per click depending on the quality of the click. If that’s true, over time a website using a template where the content predominates and people read the articles or watch the videos may get less advertising clicks but earn more than a site which uses a template with less content and more ads… even though such an “ad-heavy” template may get more clicks!
Improving your clickthrough rate by upping the number of ads on your pages and decreasing the amount of content may result in an immediate income boost at the expense of long-term revenue. Michael says he ran the “rude, rude, rude” template which generated the most revenue, “for several months” and “Google didn’t seem to have a problem with it”, but Google do say…
The best way to ensure you benefit from AdSense is to create compelling content for interested users. This also means driving targeted traffic to your site — advertisers don’t gain as much ROI when paying for generic clicks as they do for quality clicks that come from interest in your content. Good content usually equals a good experience for user plus advertiser, which can be much more valuable than CTR.
You may also want to watch this Smart Pricing explanation video which goes a little way to clarifying what Google wants to see from publishers (people earning from Adsense). Hint, it’s not a page full of ads with little genuine content!
Of course, as Michael says, the heatmap information holds true even if you don’t use Adsense, and in that case you wouldn’t have to be concerned with Smart Pricing.
It’s very important to strike a balance between ad-revenue and keeping your visitors happy. In his report, Michael lays out “rude, rude, rude” highest-earning template, but says he wouldn’t use it because of how aggressive the advertising is!