Wednesday, 17 January 2007

AdSense Myths: A Quick Follow-Up

Yesterday I posted a short article about common AdSense myths, offering my opinion as to whether each myth was untrue or simply unsubstantiated. In response to a comment to this post, that has since been deleted by the author, I realize that I missed out some pretty important information. For the myths that I marked as unsubstantiated (unsub), I missed out my personal opinion as to whether those unsubstantiated myths are true or false. For those marked as untrue, I didn't give my reasons. So here goes (with the myths numbered as per the previous post).

1. Google gives more weight to words in bold (<b>) tags when allocating the ads to display (unsub)

I personally don't believe this is true at all. For what it's worth, I also don't believe it's true for regular search engine optimization ("SEO") purposes either. I do think that some people have thought to themselves "maybe if I put my keywords in bold the AdSense bot will take more notice of them" and that thought has somehow developed a life of it's own until it's been promoted as a valid means of emphasizing keywords for AdSense.

Now, as far as I am aware the only way for regular AdSense publishers to emphasize some words over others is to use Section Targeting, as described in AdSense Help.

Note, I think exactly the same thing is true of the <strong>, <em> and <i> tags.

2. Google gives more weight to words in H1 tags when allocating the ads to display (unsub)

My thoughts on this exactly echo my thoughts on the <b> tag, with the single exception that I do think H1 possibly has some benefit for regular SEO.

3. Google uses the keywords meta tag to determine the ads to display (unsub)

This is possibly the myth that I am most on the fence over. I think the AdSense bot may read the keywords meta tag but I've never read anything authoritative indicating that it does. The only way to find out would be to create a page with no other textual content and see what happens! For the moment, my opinion is a "definite maybe!"

4. The higher your Google Pagerank, the better paying ads you get (untrue)

I think this myth is a complete load of hogwash. Pagerank is an element of ranking search results, not which ads get displayed on your site. I also don't think Google has any mechanism in place whereby it gives better paying ads to one site as compared to another site that has equivalent content. I personally believe the only differences that occur are a result of Smart Pricing.

5. You are more likely to get CPM ads if you select the "image ads only" option (untrue)

As discussed in my earlier AdSense Nonsense post, there are both image and textual pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Furthermore, you only get CPM ads if an AdWords advertiser handpicks your site to advertise on. Thus, all selecting "image ads only" does is to limit the type of PPC ads you'll get.

6. The main source of differences in earnings per click is Google's "smart pricing" (untrue)

As I discussed in my article AdSense: Making It Work for You, on, the amount you earn is affected by the number of ad units displayed on the page because Google always puts the best paying ads in the first ad unit (as determined by the position of the ad code in your raw HTML). Thus, the more ads and ad units you have, the more lower-paying ads there will be for the visitor to click on. I personally believe this probably has a greater effect than smart pricing in many cases. Having said that, smart pricing is certainly not something to be taken lightly.

7. You may not display any other ads on the same page as AdSense ads (untrue)
8. You may not display any other ads that are related to the content of the page on the same page as AdSense ads (untrue)

I'll tackle these two together. You may display any other ads on the same page as AdSense ads provided three conditions are met:

a) That the ads are not "contextual." By this, Google means that the ads mustn't be automatically displayed as the result of some algorithm that determines the type of ads to display based on the page's content.

b) That the ads do not "mimic" AdSense ads. By this, Google means that the ads mustn't look like AdSense ads.

c) That the site as a whole does not contain "excessive advertising."

[Update: As of the January 2007 AdSense Program Policies update, the Site Content restrictions no longer expressly mention "excessive advertising." Google's policy on Competitive Ads and Services has also been updated, as I discuss in my more recent posts, "New AdSense Program Policies" and "AdSense Now Allows Other Contextual Ads?!"]

9. It is forbidden to edit the color codes of your ads directly in the Javascript code, you must do it via the AdSense setup interface (untrue)

I'm sure I'll get hung, drawn and quatered by many people for this but editing the color codes in your AdSense Javascript code is permitted. There is absolutely no difference whatsoever between using the AdSense Setup interface of the AdSense web site to edit the colors and simply editing the colors yourself. You are not permitted to alter the code but editing the colors isn't altering the code at all.

10. Google will close your AdSense account if your CTR is too high (untrue/unsure!)

As indicated, I am a tad unsure about this particular topic. However, I tend to believe that having a consistently and unusually high CTR may trigger some pretty severe monitoring by Google to ensure that those clicks really are valid but I can't imagine Google closing an account just because of a high CTR with no other causes for concern . . . but then again, I'm generally less than impressed with the way many AdSense accounts have been closed down without warning!

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