Case Study: How a 120-Word Post Increased AdSense Profits by 550%

By Gregory Ciotti

The post itself is only 120 words, little more than a blurb about a car parking game meant to kill five minutes for a bored visitor. More importantly, it has no external link juice or buzz of any kind (not counting this post). Yet it helped to boost its site’s profits by over 500% because it ranked well in Google.

Traffic Data

According to Google Analytics, two-and-a-half months after it was initially published, the post suddenly started ranking well in Google. Traffic to the page jumped nearly 550%.

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AdSense Data

I asked Google if I could disclose the bits of information that make this case study particularly juicy, like the post’s CTR or the estimated earnings. Their answer, unsurprisingly, was that I couldn’t. Thankfully, I am allowed to talk about gross payments, and a little creative math helps reveal the rest of the story.

The site in question received its very first AdSense payment in June 2006 for $110.92. It’s next payment in the amount of $106.36 didn’t occur until six months later in December 2006. From this, we can extrapolate that the site was earning about $17.73 per month at the time. Not stellar by any measure, but the site is personal rather than commercial in nature.

The next payment that was received was for $218.64 in April 2007, after the post had been running hot for a month. Given that AdSense payments are only assessed at the end of a month in which the account exceeds $100, the site’s total earnings for that month were at least ($218.64 – $99.99 =) $117.29. Comparing this to our baseline of $17.73, we come up with a 561.5% increase in monthly profits.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no way to infer causality with this data. After all, many other factors influence the profitability of a website. Suffice to say, though, that confidential data supports the implied conclusion. This one post did manage to vastly increase the profitability of the site.

Lessons

Obviously, there’s a lot to be learned from the success of a post like this. Here are a few lessons.

1. External links aren’t everything. This post had no external link love. It gained a PageRank of 3 by virtue of its internal links alone, which goes to show how a solid internal link structure can give any post a chance to rank well.

2. On-page SEO can really make the difference. Using your main keyword in the title and H1 tags, as well as several times in the body, is a solid way to rank. Tweaking your template to keep the heading and content near the top of the source code also helps. As with all SEO tips, though, be sure not to overdo it.

3. Even oddball terms can be monetized. This post was never expected to generate revenue. It was just a “Here’s a cool link if you’re bored” post. However, it goes to show how even an oddball term can have decent search frequency. More importantly, nobody optimizes for oddball terms, so ranking for them is generally quite easy.

4. Long-tail terms often out-perform short-tail terms. That is, you’ll get more traffic from terms you never thought up than from the specific terms for which you optimize. This post was targeted at the keyword “car parking game,” but more than half of the traffic resulted from unexpected variations on that term. This isn’t anything that SEO professionals haven’t been saying for years, but it’s worth reiterating.

5. Ad placement is crucial to clickthrough rate. Depending on your site, achieving a high conversion rate may be a monumental feat. This post achieved so much success due in large part to the placement of an AdSense unit within the body. If you’re not sure what works best, review the AdSense help center and, above all, never stop testing.

6. Money isn’t everything. A successful blog isn’t necessarily one that makes the most money, especially in the short term. AdSense profits come and go, but readership and credibility in a niche will result in more lasting and varied profitability. This post contributed to neither, and so its overall value to the blog will diminish with its rankings.

Monetize Your Site




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16 Responses to “Case Study: How a 120-Word Post Increased AdSense Profits by 550%”

  • Stephen

    Before anyone else beats me to it, I just noticed that the link to the game has been redirected to a car company home page. Linking ploy, perhaps? Whatever the case, link condoms have been applied; shady redirects don’t sit right with me.

    Then again, it might have worked out in my favor; visitors expecting a real car parking game might have been disappointed, hit the back button, and clicked an AdSense ad instead.

  • Daniel

    What are “link condoms?”

    A nofollow tag? I always wondered that :).

  • Stephen

    Sorry, sometimes I spout SEO jargon without properly explaining it. I had to explain a bunch of risque SEO terms at work last month after mentioning the term “link juice.”

    You are correct, though. A link condom is when you apply rel=”nofollow” to a link, preventing it from passing any search ranking benefit.

  • Shaun

    Excellent case study, I had no idea the post length had anything to do with CTR.

  • dudu

    Are you sure that Google allows ads in the middle of the post?

  • Daniel

    dudu, actually Google would be glad if people would put the Adsense units more often blended with content :).

    Google is concerned with giving visibility to the advertisers, and obviously with increasing the overall volume of the AdWords-Adsense system.

    As long as you are respecting the TOS (i.e., not deceiving readers, putting images close the ads and stuff) Google is just happy if you give the ads a good visibility.

    Your readers might not share the same idea though…

  • rahoorkhuit

    I sort of disagree with the “external links” aren’t everything comment. By having links to my site (by posting comments like this), in one day my site’s traffic increased ten fold (not the click through’s though).

    http://www.templatestaff.com

  • Daniel

    rahoorkhuit, notice that Stephen is saying that “external links” are not everything for SEO purposes, that is for ranking well within search engines.

    He is not considering anything else like traffic or visibility.

  • Stephen

    Daniel is correct, rahoorkhuit. This post is only an example of success with AdSense because it ranked well for organic search terms. My point is that many people become obsessed with acquiring external links without giving due consideration to other ranking factors, such as on-site optimization and internal link structure.

    You are entirely correct, though; external links are good to have for a variety of reasons, and are even the basis of a solid SEO campaign. They just aren’t the only methods of website promotion worth considering. No site does well based on links alone. 😉

  • The Suspect

    Being new to all of this, its great to pick up such good tips from professionals. I have found good success with posting comments, however, I get most of my hits from submitting my sites to a feed agregator like Afrigator. I will continue reading more tips from your site.

  • Terry

    Interesting how such a boring phrase as ‘car parking game’ could be so fruitful. I just did a keyword search with Googles Keyword tool and the phrase had quite a good search volume and little competition.

    Has this case study created the extra interest? Probably.

  • Suzie

    Hey, that’s really useful. I think people can get over-obsessed with the link side of things… especially when so many link ‘exchange’ programs get penalised anyway.

  • Andi Gibson

    I have only made $8 on adsense in two months but ive been working hard this week to increase traffic to my site and started posting a bit more content on there so hopefully time will tell!!

    If anyone is interested in my finding with adsense check it out here:

    http://www.andigibson.co.uk/2008/10/16/google-adsense-profits-and-making-the-most-of-free-money/

    would appreciate your comments on there loads as its a fairly new blog and has 0 comments at present!!

    Best to all,

    Andi

  • Bang Kritikus

    Thanks for your information

  • Accounting Teacher

    This is interesting case study,

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