Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 16, 2007

Five Google AdSense Tips That Are So Obvious That People Rarely Mention Them

Five Google AdSense Tips That Are So Obvious TLook, I'll be straight with you here, because I'm not one of those guys who's going to tell you how to get rich from online advertising. I've got nothing to sell but I do hope you'll listen. Because there are a few secrets to making money with Google Adsense, but they're not really secrets: in fact, they're damned obvious. Here are five of them that I've found valuable. Employ them and your site or Blog may never become a Ghost Site.
  1. Listen to Google. The Web is filled with self-styled "Adsense Gurus," and while I wouldn't rank them with snake-oil salesmen, a lot of the information they'll sell you isn't just unreliable or out of date: it's dangerous. Game the system with Stupid SEO Tricks and you'll get slammed. Once a month, Google sends its Adsense publishers a very brief "tips" message whose aim is to make your site make more money for you and Google, your partner. Do everything that Google tells you: since I've started listening to Google and doing what it tells me, I've tripled my daily earnings. Believe me, they know much better than some blowhard at SES what your site needs.

  2. Don't Expect to Make a Living From Adsense. If you're running a web site to get rich, you shouldn't be running one. Unless you have something original that's going to be relevant to your target audience, you're going to tire of your efforts someday, and shutter up your shop. I'd say about 90 percent of people running Blogs, sites, and other Web properties are going to give up because what they write is done for the money, not because it's part of an enduring passion. Your whole objective is to find the five or ten thousand people in the world who will find what you do interesting. If you cast your net too widely you'll be lost among a thousand voices. Specialize and do what you do better than anybody out there, and you'll win in the long term. And unless you're publishing to win in the long term, you're not going to win in the short term. I consider the sites successes because Google Adsense pays for my monthly transportation bill. Maybe someday I'll make more money but I'm not going to let greed kill the Golden Goose.

  3. Use Blog Software as Your Site's CMS. Blogging software is great because it automates your archives. It lets you do a lot of other things as well, but this is the most important feature it provides, plus the fact that everything you publish will have a unique URL. The less you have to twiddle with publishing details, the more you'll publish. Sure, a Blog backend has its limitations, but if you can handle basic HTML you can easily customize its prefab templates to meet your needs. The point is not to have any roadblocks in your way to publishing frequently. Write well and write often: Google pays attention to this stuff and so do your fellow humans.

  4. Don't Take Comments Unless You Absolutely Have To. There's nothing sadder than a Blog or site that's written well with zero comments or comments that are obviously written by idiots or SEO spammers. I don't take comments on any of my Blogs because I've been burned so many times by people who've used commenting to hack into my site, or practice psychological warfare against me in the form of sock-puppeting. If somebody wants to respond to what you write, let them send you e-mail. I never communicate with anyone who's unwilling to identify themselves. I've learned this the hard way and any lost benefits are more than offset by the fact that I don't have to worry about ad hominem attacks or porn URLs arriving in the dead of night.

  5. Tag Your Content Religiously. On one of my sites, 90 percent of accesses through Google are through its image search feature. The only way Google's spider can find these images is through use of the ALT tag. People see the images, and often click on through to the content, which is where I want them to be. If your Blogging software permits it, tag your articles as well. Doing this provides measurable SEO benefits. It also helps you better understand the themes of your site, which may not be obvious to you when you begin publishing.

Labels: , ,

July 08, 2007

From the Netslaves Archives: The Agony of Pre-Google Web Publishing

It seems that few remember how difficult it was for small Web publishers to survive a few years ago. Unless you had enormous traffic, and by this I mean on the order of 250,000 monthly page views, big ad networks such as DoubleClick wouldn't touch you. Many web publishers were forced to deal with affiliate ad brokers such as EFront, which treated them badly.

Google's AdSense program, which launched in June 2003, provided a virtual lifeline for publishers, and is an important factor in terms of creating today's content renaissance. It's also been a tremendous success for Google, which relies on this contextual network to provide about 40 percent of its online advertising revenues. Without AdSense, Web 2.0 would have been unthinkable, and while Adsense isn't perfect (look around this page and you'll probably see lots of ads which could be targeted much better than they are), it's really the only way for small publishers to keep on publishing. Few of these publishers will ever get rich, but at least Adsense pays for the hosting bills, a couple of gallons of gas, and perhaps a weekly pizza or two, which is more than enough to keep many niche publishers going.

People love to bitch about Adsense (both publishers and marketers who believe that Google's contextual network is subject to higher levels of click fraud than on its own properties). Again, it's not perfect and may never will be. But it's vastly improved the lot of publishers, created more opportunities for diversity in the idea-stream, and in the long run may be judged to be Google's most important contribution to the general health of the World Wide Web.

But one can only see how healthy today's Web is by looking back at how desparately bad things were a few years ago. Content sites were dropping like flies, crooked ad broker companies were cheating publishers, and everybody was broke. No document better illustrates this dire situation than Webzines, eFront, and the Death of Dreams, an article written in March of 2001 by Netslaves contributor Emily K. Dresner-Thornber. Things weren't just bad in 2001, they were rotten to the core; she writes:

This is the crux of the death of the dream: people trying hard to make their passions a reality in a new medium with no editorial control, no old boy's club, no Ivy League mind-games, and no limits. While they work on their passions, other people openly and shamelessly take advantage of them. Sites are being co-opted and shut down for the minor sin of saying something bad about the advertising provider. It is a return to the same old American dream, full of shysters, scum, liars, and people ready to use other people for a quick buck. The Internet has become just like any other business in the world.

Thank God Google Adsense saved us from these awful people, saving a small but vital part of the American Dream for all of us.

Labels: , , , ,

Click Here to Return to the Ghost Sites Home Page