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12 Tips for Increased AdSense Ad Relevancy

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of March 2006 Adsense, Advertising 0 Comments

Pay per click advertising programs like AdSense, YPN and Chitika do rely heavily upon the positioning and design of their ads when it comes to performance – but another crucial aspect of them is ad relevancy. The principle is simple really – readers come to your blog in search of content on a particular topic – if they see an ad that relates to that topic they are more likely to both notice it and respond to it.

Irrelevant ads will almost always convert poorly so in the same way that publisher work on the design and positioning of ads they should also consider making sure ads are as relevant to the content they are positioned near as possible.

Each ad system will have different methods of getting ads more relevant. With a system like Chitika it takes some work and you need to choose keywords carefully (read a little more on how I recommend optimizing their ads here) where as with AdSense and YPN it has more to do with what you write than anything else as the ads are contextual. The following 12 tips for getting relevant ads are largely aimed at AdSense ads – but some will convert well also with YPN.

  1. Section Targeting – AdSense brought in a feature called Section Targeting last year that I know has helped some bloggers quite a bit. The idea is simple – you place tags around the parts of your content that you want ads to relate to and other tags around content that you want their ads to ignore. You can learn more about this directly from Google here. My own experience with section targeting has been that I’ve not noticed it really to have much of an impact. In fact at one point after adding it I noticed a downward relevancy of ads so I removed it and relied upon the following strategies more.
  2. Keywords in Content – Without stuffing your posts with keywords and thereby making them read poorly – it’s worth considering what words appear in your posts more than others because it is these words that are likely to be triggering your ads. To help AdSense out you might want to consider finding ways to use the keywords that you want to target more than once or twice in each post.
  3. Keywords in Titles – I find that if a keyword is in my post’s title it seems to have a real impact upon the type of ads showing on a post. This is particularly true if your post’s titles actually are your page’s titles (learn more about this here). Of course the extra benefit of thinking about keywords in these ways is that it will also help you with SEO. Similarly using keywords in <h> tags also seems to impact relevancy.
  4. Metatags – I’ve never seen the AdSense team talk about metatags but do know of a number of AdSense publishers who believe that AdSense does look at them in determining what a page is about. I’d recommend that you make sure your blog’s overall keywords are in your metatags in case this is a factor (it can’t hurt).
  5. Check your sidebars, header, footer and menus – If you’re not using Section Targetting (and blocking your sidebars from being read by AdSense as a basis for your ads) you’ll want to consider the words you have in your sidebars and menus. One common problem that some bloggers have is that they get ads for blogging related products even though they are writing on other topics. One of the common reasons for this is that they have the word ‘blog’ or ‘blogging’ in their sidebar in numerous places. Unless your blog is about blogging you might want to avoid the ‘b word’ as much as you can. Also scan what other words are being repeated in your sidebars that might impact your keyword density.
  6. Keep Posts to One Topic – The more focussed your posts are the more hints you’ll be giving AdSense about what you’ve written about. Posts that cover numerous topics tend to lead to unfocussed ads. This explains why sometimes front pages of blogs can be more difficult to get ad relevancy on than single posts. Front pages can be difficult and you’ll probably want to work on keyword density there.
  7. Keep your Blog/URL to One Topic – Some AdSense publishers believe that AdSense looks not only at the page that the ad is on itself but the whole site that it is on. I’m not convinced that you can’t get relevant ads if you write on multiple topics on the one URL (I have done it with some success myself) – but it does seem to help to have a URL all on the one topic (ie it’s not essential – but worth factoring into your blogging strategy).
  8. Check to see if Ads Exist – This rarely happens with AdSense as their inventory for ads is pretty wide (YPN has a smaller inventory so this might be more useful for those publishers), but occasionally I’ve done consulting for publishers who have struggled to get relevant ads and have found that there just are not too many ads in their niche at all because it is too specialized. It’s a little difficult to check this but one basic way to do so is to head to Google.com and do a search for the keyword that you’d like to see ads on. If the results page has ads on it that are relevant there is a fair chance that there are ads in the AdSense inventory on the topic. If not – they could be scarce and you might need to widen your niche topic.
  9. Check what Ads others See – The ads you see on your blog are more than likely to be different ads than your readers are seeing. This is largely due to the fact that ads are geo targeted to your readers. Advertisers are able to choose which countries or regions that they want to expose their advertisements to. As a result sometimes your region might have fewer relevant ads than other regions and it can be worth asking someone else in another part of the world to tell you what kinds of ads they are seeing on your blog.
  10. Block Irrelevant Ads – This tip is one of last resort and may not actually have much impact at all but I know of a few bloggers who do it. AdSense lets publishers block a ads via their Competitive Ad Filter. If you’re seeing ads that are irrelevant to your blog’s topic you can block them using this method. Of course you should keep in mind that the ads you see on your blog are specific to your location and your readers are probably seeing others – so blocking ads can be a somewhat pointless exercise.
  11. Ad Relevancy takes Time – If your blog is a new one and you’re getting irrelevant ads then it could simply be that your blog is not old enough. I find that some blogs seem to get good ads straight away while others can take a week or two to settle down. So give it a little time to see if they right themselves.
  12. When in Doubt – Ask AdSense – There have been a number of times when I’ve not been able to figure out why relevant ads are not being served to a blog that I own. In each case I’ve sent an email to AdSense via their feedback mechanisms and have politely asked them to take a look at the pages/blog I’m struggling with. I find that their responses can often be quite helpful. You might get a fairly automated response at first but if you persist and reply to that you tend to get a ‘real person’ responding.
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. When using the section targeting, double check to make sure you’re using it correctly. I’ve seen instances where sites have put in the “start” portion of the code and just copied and pasted it where they wanted to section to end, thus asking Google to ignore the whole page inadvertently.

  2. ohhh, look at me! I made $100,000 by being a marketing devil!

    You my friend are a waste of human life. Marketing serves NO useful purpose in human existance other than to turn people into mindless consumers and conformists which will distract them from making any progress on this planet becuase they are too concerned about saving that extra $ or getting the next gen Ipod.

    Please cease and desist with your marketing selfishness and do something which is of benefit to the world

    I thanks you

  3. “Thoughtful Police,” it’s too bad you think that way of Darren. Let me give you another perspective:

    The FREE advice that he continuously offers helps thousands of bloggers to do their job or hobbie better. In my case, almost all of my blogs are ministry related. Darren’s tips help me to help many other people. You see the point?

    People like him who contribute to the community deserve our respect, instead of imflamatory comments like yours. Would you reconsider your opinion?

  4. Great Adsense tips as usual I have been working on my placement and channels and have seen a steady increase in my stats

  5. Everyone makes the same mistake with AdSense’s section targeting. Section targeting is not about including content, it’s about excluding irrelevant or misleading content. See AdSense Tip #9: Use section targeting to exclude stop/poison keywords from your content for the details. Exclude judiciously with section targeting and do everything else that Darren lists and you’ll get better results.

    If you’re seeing a lot of ads about blogging, for example, you can use section targeting to exclude any of the page content that includes the words “feed” or “blog” for example. Check the keyword density of your pages, you might be surprised at how often those trigger words appear….

  6. Eric, according to Google’s own page about section targeting, it is about both emphasizing AND excluding content.

    At least that’s how it reads to me.

  7. When selecting ads, Google not only considers the page they’re on, it considers the entire site, and the entire account! I’ve seen plenty of examples where ads which are more closely targeted to one of my sites will appear on a site on a completely different topic. Generally this happens for the homepage, but I’ve seen it elsewhere, too.

  8. Thanks to this article, I’ve now incorporated AdSense section targeting and will assess the impact +/- (if any) over the coming few weeks.

  9. Cary: I realize what Google says, but to be honest Google already does a good job at the targeting already. The section targeting works best to exclude content, that’s all.

    Michael: If you read the AdSense patent closely, you’ll see that the entire site and other related sites all play a part in the ad targeting. I wrote a little report about it as PDF, drop me a not and I’ll send it to you.

  10. I think what Eric is saying is that technically site targetting does both things but perhaps it’s most useful with what it excludes rather than what it includes.

  11. ‘thought police’ – thanks for stopping by and expressing your opinion. All I’d ask in future is that you consider not leaving the same comment on multiple posts. While you might feel your comment is relevant on them all my comment spam detector does not and you’ll get yourself banned automatically by doing it.

    I’m not sure how to respond to you allegations of me being a ‘waste of human life’ as I have no idea who you are or how you’ve come to that conclusion. I tend to take criticism pretty well from people who try to get to know me and who stand behind their criticisms in person so I guess I’ll just let your comment sit there unanswered.

    Feel free to email me any time with your concerns – more than open to dialogue – but if you’re after a flaming comment brawl then you’re in the wrong place.

  12. Darren, thank you for a wonderful blog. Every time I come here I learn something new. My blogs are not about marketing, just my farm and my battle against the USDA to stop NAIS, but what I find here on your blog is immensely useful for thinking about how to design my blogs. I just recently switched to WordPress so I’m learning a lot of things all over again. The Google Section Targeting was something I had not heard of and it explains why I’ve been getting ads about Blogging. Thanks for being a wonderfully useful human being and a teacher of what you have learned. -Walter, in Vermont USA

  13. Great articles for adsense user, i will patient to make my ads relevance.

  14. […] 12 Tips for Increased AdSense Ad Relevancy: ProBlogger Blog Tips: […]

  15. #13 – Stop words :)

  16. […] Introduction to Advertising – Ad Relevancy […]

  17. Hey Darren,

    A Big Mistake I made was to use an example of what not to do in Keyword use for AdSense Ads.

    Now, I seem to be selling Pet Food instead of Work at Home services.

    Live and Learn.


  18. […] 12 tips for increasing your adsense revenue – Every web-master using adsense should read this. […]

  19. […] What the heck, now that I hopefully have their attention, I might as well kill two birds with one stone. Is there any chance that the AdSense scripts will ever validate? I was hoping back in mid-May (when Co-op first came out) that we would soon see Google’s own Map and ad scripts let our pages return to 100% validation. Unfortunately, I’ve just started using AdSense, and have discovered that not only does the script prevent my pages from validating, but the ads still have a ways to go before they are completely relevant anyway. Luckily, the text ads at the end of my posts seem to be fairing a little better so far; now I see what all the fuss has been about. […]

  20. […] looked to keywords to help improve my AdSense relevancy after reading this post 12 tips to increase AdSense Relevancy at […]

  21. […] 12 Tips for Increased AdSense Ad Relevancy Pay per click advertising programs like AdSense, YPN and Chitika do rely heavily upon the positioning and design of their … https://problogger.com/adsense-relevancy/ […]

  22. […] 12 Tips for Increased AdSense Ad Relevancy Pay per click advertising programs like AdSense, YPN and Chitika do rely heavily upon the positioning and design of their … https://problogger.com/adsense-relevancy/ […]

  23. Darren, that was a very classy reply you gave to “thought police.” Very often, angry criticism says much more about the giver than the receiver. You showed a tactful way to handle it.

  24. Darren, thanks this great tips.

  25. I everyone, i also face this irrelevant ads issue sometime by google. and i am unable to catch the reason behind it, some times google shows perfect ads and some totally irrelevant ones. :-(

  26. I found this post through Google and it has really helped me out a lot. I have 2 sites that are showing irrelevant ads and its been about 2 weeks now so I will follow your advice and see if I can get my ads relevant.

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