Adsense Ante-Update! (How I’m Getting More Clicks and Where to Put Your Ads)


Dear Readers,

It was with just the right amount of fear that I launched the Adsense Ante Up in early December of 2013 (launch post here). Even the earliest readers know we’ve never fully been blog on how to make money blogging, and these series usually run on the blogs of Pat Flynn and Darren Rowse.

What if things totally flopped? It’s Adsense, afterall…

Yet, with your help and clever ideas, my Honest College blog was able to:

Practically double 2-month look-back revenue
Increase clicks by nearly 50%
Do it all with 16% less pageviews

As I said during launch, I’d give you a recap post after one month, and while I know I’m a bit late, I hope the takeaways in this post will show you that the time is now.

How to get involved and set your goal

Before we go into the numbers, I figured I’d drop off some instructions because obviously some of you are arriving now and missed the Ante-Up launch:

It’s simple, to get involved:

  • Drop by the launch post and create a goal, any goal you have with Adsense earnings
  • Check out the strategies our rather brilliant community has gathered so far
  • Add one from your blogging!
  • Check out the payout chart I posted to see how often I was earning a Google Adsense paycheck
  • Get a coffee or something and come back over here for the updated results

As I said, the idea is to make any goal and see any improvements. So many of us (myself definitely included) have had these ghost-like Adsense ads that just sit there and take up real-estate so we’re trying to change that right here.

Okay, time for the updates!

Adsense earnings before we ante’d up

Let’s look at how my college advice blog was doing before the Ante-Up began. At this point I was earning enough for a Paycheck about once a year, and things were verrrrry slowly improving:

For new readers here, Honest College began on Blogger, moved to, and through my guidance, luck motivation to try new things and always fall forward, we’ve done alright. Through the journey, I’ve tried a mixed bag of earning options:

  • Private advertising – a big time earner
  • Adsense earnings of $10 to 20 / month with $20.29 in this particular 2 month window before the Ante-Up
  • Affiliate marketing and Amazon associates (less successful; the blog didn’t began with this purpose and as you probably know it’s hard to blend them in midway through)

As my maiden blogging project, it was a smorgasbord of adverts and content styles, much of which worked (and a lot of which didn’t).

This makes the blog a good resource to test blogging ideas and bring them back here for everyone.

Seth Godin recently wrote a piece on how the corporations that help today and think of earning as more or less an afterthought are the ones who enjoy the most success. It makes sense, and while I was tweaking this blog in the early days, eager to make a few bucks, I’m glad it has become much more of a training ground than a short-term fix.

This can be a highly productive route, both personally and financially, for anyone who manages multiple blogs.

Adsense earnings after we ante’d up

Time to check out the earnings in the 53 days following the Ante-Up.

You can check out the date to keep me honest, and while I circled clicks, the other numbers are probably interesting too.

The initial strategy:

  1. Remove the existing ads from my header, top of post and bottom right footer location
  2. Place one large advert at the top of posts
  3. Place another ad mid-post and a third ad below the posts (#3 was all advice you guys left in the comments)

And I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out. Going from 28 clicks to 44 clicks for a 57% increase is awesome.

I don’t monitor this blog a whole lot (remember, training ground) but I did check out the ad content and was pleased Google was pulling in a variety of banners and links to match the topics.

We’re also getting more $3+ days than ever before, which makes the goal many of us set to earn $100/month seem a bit more likely.

Of course, as a blogger I’m also forced to think about optimal routes…just not in the sense of quick fixes, which rarely ever work.

Would earnings increase if I were to place ads on the homepage?

I bet you think this could be more powerful than the edits I’ve already made, and I would think so too if we do it right.

Because the homepage gets the most traffic, right?

Let’s take a look. Heading over to Google Analytics…


Upon checking out my traffic on Site Content / All Pages, I found this:


El wrongo. The homepage is not getting the most traffic.

The homepage actually gets a mere 756 visits while a post I wrote WAY back on the best college GPAs brings in 4439 visits.


So, the question shifts here.

How do we optimize ad placement on this internal post? This post just became more valuable, so what kinds of ads are going to convert the best?

These kind of findings occur on a blog where you basically don’t pay attention to what’s going on. I have to admit, even with the Ante-Up, I’ve been careless.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not still room opportunity 🙂

Take aways after round I

Let’s take a look at what worked in round I, what you can bring back to your blog, and what to expect in round II.

  1. People do still click ads
    A big risk in asking people to get involved in an experiment like this was that our strategies would have no effect. If people simple weren’t clicking much on my blog, in the whole niche or in general, it would have been like redecorating an apartment for sale that was already off the market.
  2. Ads and images don’t belong next to eachother
    I had to replace the images at the top of posts with the larges square ad units. While this was a hit to post design, many of the images were random and ineffective. I quickly realized that this can save you time spent in publishing a post too.
  3. $100 per month is getting closer
    As I pointed out above, the number of days where the blog brought in over $3 from clicks and views is increasing. If we could span a whole month like this, and I’m hoping we will with further improvements in round II, then our goal will be reached.
  4. Single posts can perform better than the homepage
    This one is still more of a theory, and I’ll be toying with it in round II. I do think the post on GPAs mentioned above has the ability to get lots of clicks, if not for the awesome writing then for the post-view count, so we’ll work on that from both a structural and content perspective.

I’m really curious about the sheer fact we’ve improved here, and enough to write a post on it 🙂 Round I was more of a test, where I wanted to gauge interest on your part and performance on mine, so the question begs, what will happen if I do focus a ton of effort on Adsense in round II?

Lorraine introduces our next (simultaneous) series

I’m going to end the Ante-Update here to see if anyone has comments. Thanks again for all your input, and double thanks for those who dropped by this update post. I hope you’ll use these strategies back on your own blog, and use Honest College as a resource. It’s a good example of a blog than jumped from Blogger to WordPress, has both failed and succeeded, and more and more, I keep it live for you and for posts like this.

Now, I’ll turn things over to Lorraine, who’s got a little note for you about coding, which is both useful for placing Adsense ads and going to be a topic at Dear Blogger in the next few months.

Not to mention, also probably her favorite aspect of blogging…

I’m Not a Coder!

Coding? Codes? Code? These very words scare the bejesus out of me, and so when Greg asked me, the self-proclaimed non-techie, to edit his upcoming posts on guides to Image HTML Editing + Styling, I was a bit frightened.

I’m not a coder!

I don’t understand code. Never have, never will. Well, maybe I will. . . now!

Coding in itself it actually not as scary as it seems.

(Good lord, is this me, really writing this???)

(Sigh. Yes, it is.)

The reason for this note is twofold. First of all, it’s to introduce you to coding using baby steps. Secondly, it’s to announce three of the upcoming posts on Dear Blogger. Greg (AKA The Blogger) is going to be publishing the following:

A Guide to Image HTML Editing + Styling: Part 1 (Beginner)

A Guide to Image HTML Editing + Styling: Part 2 (Intermediate)

A Guide to Image HTML Editing + Styling: Part 3 (Advanced)

Where you have seen code before?

Now, most of you may have seen code at some point in your life, especially if you are a blogger, and if you are anything like me, the only ones understand are the really easy-to-understand ones like the ones used for bolding or italicizing something.

If you are a blogger (and I’m assuming you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading posts on Dear Blogger) then you are probably familiar with the two types of editors: the visual editor and the text editor. For more information on using these, you can refer to this support document.

I mention these two editors because if you are an average Joe (like me) then this will probably be the only time you encounter code. Unless, of course, you are some techno-geek (sorry, I’m being a bit mean) who actually enjoys writing code and does it for fun.

Personally, I like the visual editor. I like to see what I’m doing. I like things to look nice and neat. I don’t like funny brackets and lines and all that other stuff that goes along with it. I also don’t understand what preview=true?#%* means – but I don’t have to. Not yet, anyway. . .

But there will come a day, I’m sure, when being a techno-geek will come in handy.

For now, let’s just take things one at a time.

And answer me this: Are there any coders out there? Or are you like me. . . a code-hater? Rate yourself on a one to ten scale, and let me know. (I’m a ONE. I hate code.)

What number are you?

Finally: I hope that’s some good content for you to munch on today and the rest of this week. As Lorraine’s note tells us, we’ll be running a couple series, The Ante-Up AND A Guide to Image HTML Editing + Styling side by side as 2014 unfolds.

It’s going to be super fun, obviously, and we should probably get some donuts to celebrate.

Excited? We are!

Greg and Lorraine

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23 Responses to "Adsense Ante-Update! (How I’m Getting More Clicks and Where to Put Your Ads)"

  1. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and
    sources back to your website? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you provide
    here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thank you!

  2. I’m going to try to implement some of these suggestions to my website. I just got adsense recently and I’m still trying to figure out what works the best for my website.. Ads to the right column definitely do not generate any click heat for some reason. Great article.

  3. I’m glad I’ve found this, it’s pretty interesting to see how your clicks have increased. I thought that adsense wasn’t for me, but maybe now I will reconsider! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. No prob at all. Can be helpful to have some underused traffic on your hands 🙂

      Traveloguer is sweet Christine, bet you’d get some good exotic banners over there.

  4. Great info on Adsense, though, like Jeri I’m not quite ready for it yet. But, like all things blogging it takes time to settle in and become part of your known vocabulary/understanding. When the time is right, I’ll be back asking questions for sure. Now code – yes code phobic, but telling myself I needn’t be. Glad I’m not the only one in the bunch:-)

      1. Hey A.K. Susan and I were talking below about how Adsense ain’t good for every blog, but worth trying and happy to help if you do. Do I recall that you run a few blogs? That could work well…

        Took me forever to realize HTML and CSS are basically just English with some more punctuation. WAY easier than javascript and PHP and C+ and all that. More on this soon though…later!

    1. Niekka — As a starting point, try putting a large rectangle ad 336 x 280 at the top of your blog posts. Because this is also a code post, I guess I’ll reveal what I did!

      Within single.php:

      <div class="entry entry-content">
      <div style="float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 0px;">
      <script async src="//"></script>
      <!-- ante up ad -->
      <ins class="adsbygoogle"
      (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

      This one gets clicks and relieves you of having to find a clever image! Daily Blog Tips also uses this method well.

    1. Any time Susan.

      I have the unique benefit of using this blog for discussion and affiliates, and the other one to test things in a more messy way. Adsense on someone’s main blog can be harmful if readers aren’t used to it so be careful, as I’m sure you are.

      I’d buy through your affiliate links, especially the white wines 🙂 Are you having success with eBay and others?

      1. My greatest success is on Amazon with links to items for my recipes and books. Wines are coming along because Amazon is now starting to partner with small, medium and large vintners. I was just accepted into the eBay affiliate program so I don’t have any data at this point. 🙂

  5. Will now leave same comment you left for my post on impact investment (i.e.not a comment on the post), Greg:

    As an entrepreneur, what are your thoughts on specialization vs diworsifcation? (included your spelling mistake on diversification:-)

      1. That doesn’t change the fact that it wasn’t a comment on impact investment:-)

        Definition: “diworsification,” the counterintuitive idea that carrying all your investment eggs in one basket might be a better idea than old-fashioned diversification. In recent years, tactical asset allocation and trading out of trouble seemed to protect capital better than traditional approaches.

        The kind of comment you left on my site is the kind that Google mistake for spam and I get punished for. The point I’m making is we should comment on the post itself and not on something else that will get us punished by Google.

        1. Awesome definition, thank you. But gotta disagree there and here’s why:

          I openly chat about blog traffic and social media with readers on a post about “where to blog” because it’s all niche relevant.

          It answer questions.

          More importantly, it builds community. Maybe I’m too much a fan of random ideas but I’m definitely not the sort to make people read my stuff to closely.

          Blogging is 99% consumer choice driven and I think we should be happy if people are choosing our space to discuss, when they could just as soon go to Mashable. If people want to talk about the cheese sandwiches they had for lunch, so be it. I had brie today.

          And yes, that could be “considered” spam in your sense.

          At the end of the day, I believe this will lead to more creativity and better answers for the community.

          1. Agree with you completely, Greg.

            Catch is Google changed their algorithm last year. Comments that don’t contain key words from the post the comment is for are classified as spam and the blog is penalised.

            A lot of us, including top bloggers, were penalised by Google for comments without keywords in them. Doesn’t matter if they are posted by spammers or not.

            If you had just included a key word, such as investment, the comment would have met with Google’s approval.

            What Google did to their algorithm is lamentable and we all disagree with them. Catch is we have to adapt to it because they have the power.

            1. It’s quite disheartening to read what Catarina has to say about comments that don’t contain keywords—especially because I’m not great at picking keywords other than the extremely obvious ones. Greg, your comment on Catarina’s blog post was following up on her expertise and might have sparked a conversation that she could have steered back to impact investing. I’m not sure what to do going forward. When someone goes to the trouble of commenting in good faith on one of my blog posts, I’m loath to delete it or not approve it based on whether it has the right key words. Akismet has been awesome for me at blocking spam comments, so that’s not an issue.


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