Monthly Archives: March 2016

Google Adsense Competitive Ad Filter

Inappropriate Adsense On Your Pages

So you’re sick of the Muslim dating site advert that Google Adsense, in its wisdom, keeps displaying on certain pages of your “make money easy” blog and finally decide to do something about it. You have two options:

  1. Change your content to give the very clear message to Google that your site is as far away from the Muslim singles dating game as you can get. You can do this by using more “keywords” in your content and emphasizing them with the appropriate markup (<strong>, <em>, headings – you know the drill).
  2. Use the competitive ad filter in adsense.

Actually, the dating site ads are a bad example because there is obviously something wrong with your content if completely irrelevant adsense like this is being displayed. Unless of course, your site is about Muslim singles, and then these ads are fine! Moving on…

Using The Adsense Competitive Ad Filter To Avoid Giving Money Away

Let’s suppose instead that your site is in the money making ideas niche and adverts for your competitors in the same niche keep appearing on your pages. The last thing you want to do is advertise your competition and send your visitors over to your arch enemy’s site. Changing the content is not an option as it is already laser targeted on your carefully chosen money making keywords. The elegant solution is to use the Google Adsense Competitive Ad Filter to filter out ads you don’t want to display.

How The Competitive Ad Filter Works

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Get offended by an adsense advert that you would like to zap.
  2. Determine either the display URL or the destination URL of the advert.
  3. Access the Competitive Ad Filter section of your Adsense Setup.
  4. List the URLs whose adverts you don’t want to display.
  5. Take a break. Eat a kit kat.

If you’re like me and get offended by everything, step 1 is a doddle. Determining the display/destination URL of the advert’s, however, can be a little tricky because the display URL is not always present. You can’t click on the adsense to find out where it goes as this violates Google’s programme policies.

To find the destination URL you can go the convoluted route, where you right click on the adsense, copy the link location, paste it into notepad and extract the actual destination URL from the humungous googleads string of text.

Or you can go the slick and professional route by using a snappy little tool called the AdSense Preview Tool.

AdSense Preview Tool

The AdSense Preview Tool adds an extra option to the right-click menu in your web browser. To get it:

  1. Save the AdSense Preview Tool to your desktop. When I did this it mysteriously developed a .txt extension, so you may have to rename the file to remove it.
  2. Run the .reg file. This will add arcane information to your registry that will change your world as you know it.
  3. In Internet Explorer 6.x browsers (I couldn’t get this to work in Firefox), right click on an Adsense advert and select Google Adsense Preview Tool.
  4. Select the adverts that you want to remove and then click Show Selected URLs.
  5. A window pops up with the destination URLs. Copy these and add them to your Competitive Ad Filter list.

Website Development Process

Suppose you’ve just bought the website that’s going to make you an internet millionaire. Maybe you bought an expired domain with plans to start from scratch, or maybe you stalked the owner of an already established website and bought that. Now what? How do you get the best out of your new acquisition and make it successful?

This guide to the website development process outlines a method I’ve found to be useful when developing websites of my own. The process is split into three stages:

  1. analysis
  2. planning
  3. implementation

Developing Websites – Analysis

During the analysis stage of the website development process, we collect data over a period of time about the traffic that our site receives. Only when we have that data can we assess how the website is currently performing before we roll our sleeves up, get the bonnet up and tune up the site.

We analyse the traffic data to discover where our visitors are coming from, and to try to understand their behaviour on our site. Only when we understand that behaviour can we optimise their user experience by changing the site appropriately. These changes may include enhancing existing content (perhaps the internal navigation needs improving, or maybe it’s hard to find important material on the site), and writing new content (maybe visitors arrive looking for something in particular but leave disappointed because that content just doesn’t exist – yet).

We will also do some keyword research in the analysis stage to determine how we can expand our content to satisfy our visitors.

The analysis stage usually gives us the following information:

How much traffic the site gets.
Where it comes from: search engines, referrals from other sites, bookmarks.
What search phrases people are using to find the site.
Whether people are satisfied with the pages they visit (yes, we can determine that!).
Whether visitors feel inclined to explore other areas of the site after they’ve finished with the current page.

Exactly how we will determine the above from some dry looking traffic statistics will be discussed in Website Development – Analysis. That discussion will also explore how we can interpret that data. It’s all very well knowing what key phrases bring traffic to our site – but how can we use that information to get more traffic? Only when we have interpreted the data can we draw some meaningful conclusions from it, and then create a plan of action.

broke-the-websiteThe performance data we collect also provides a useful benchmark against which we can measure our improvements. At some stage we need to know whether we have optimised our site or have in fact broken it.

It’s difficult, but if you want to get the best out of your site, you must be patient and collect data over a long enough period of time. I’m currently a week into recording traffic stats for a new website acquisition and I’m determined to accumulate a month’s worth of data. Part of the process involves hand wringing and clock watching.

Developing Websites – Planning

Once the analysis stage is complete, we will understand how our site is currently performing and what we need to do to make it perform better. The planning stage involves making a list of exactly which tasks we’ll need to carry out and will usually include the following:

restructuring existing content. Perhaps there is duplication in categories, perhaps we need more categories in which to file our existing content.
improving navigation. It could be that we’re not giving users an easy way to get to the important content. For example, if we’re trying to sell something on the site, it wouldn’t be a good idea to bury the sales page in the darkest recesses of the site. Instead, it needs to occupy a prominent position.
creation of new content. Our previous analysis may have highlighted material that we should add to satisfy potential visitors.
rewriting existing content.There are a few reasons that we might want to rewriting existing content. Some of it may be badly written, or not well optimised for search engines.
migration to a new platform. If the site is hand coded in html, you may prefer to move it to a content management system that allows you to add new content/amend existing content more easily.
redesign. If you do decide to migrate to a CMS, you should be aware that many CMSs use themes or templates that you can buy to jazz up the look and feel of your site. It’s at this point that you decide what theme or template to use.

Developing Websites – Implementation

Finally, it’s time to actually do something! The website has been operational for a month in its old guise, steadily feeding our traffic statistics package, but now we’re going to put the wheels in motion and update it. I’ll list briefly some tasks you’ll need to perform here, but most will be covered in a later article. These are standard tasks that are independent of the results of the previous analysis stage. You’d need to address them whatever site you were managing.

standard redirects. Make sure that the non-www version of URLs redirects to the www version (or vice versa). Also do the same for index.htm and the root. You’ll be surprised at how many websites don’t do this.
install the CMS if required
copy old content to new CMS
sort out the redirects of the old URLs to the new ones
write, or commission someone else to write, new content

The job is not over once implementation is complete. Now, as well as being able to stand back and admire the view, you must monitor performance and make adjustments to maximise it. Stay tuned for an article on that too.

Traffic Down At Weekends

I’ve seen a lot of people fretting over the fact that their sites receive much less traffic at weekends than during the week. If I turn my attention to my own sites, I find that some of them have a very erratic traffic graph in Google Analytics, and some have that same established pattern of peaking during the week and troughing at the weekends. Here is a very simplistic breakdown for the established sites I own:

Site Type Traffic pattern
Entertainment/gadget erratic
Children’s entertainment fairly consistent with very few peaks and troughs but no pattern
Technical resource very pronounced troughs at the weekend
Musical, very niche fairly uniform graph
Technical resource peaks during the week, troughs at the weekend
Technical resource peaks during the week, troughs at the weekend
Shopping mall just plain random

Why Traffic Varies At The Weekends

Lower Traffic At The Weekends

I can see why traffic might vary at the weekend. Usually, peoples’ behaviour changes drastically at the weekend. I know that I spend a lot more time on the internet during the week than I do at the weekend. A lot of people have jobs that encourage internet use during the week. This might be because they need to do research for their work (programmers looking for technical solutions, brain surgeons in the middle of a tricky op). Alternatively, they might have a job that gives them the liberty of using the internet for entertainment in their breaks. Students do a lot of research on the internet during the week (yeah, right!) and have the weekends off. The list of reasons for high weekday internet use/low weekend use goes on.

On the flip side of that coin are the people whose jobs don’t allow them to access the internet. When they get home, perhaps they need to attend to their responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, house chores) and then chill out. Maybe they don’t feel the urge to use the internet after working a full day and the weekend is a better time for them.

Higher Traffic At The Weekends

Interestingly, not one of my sites gets more traffic at the weekends. Are there any sites that experience this traffic pattern? If there are, I would imagine they would probably be in the entertainment niche, possibly in the NSFW (not safe for work) area.

In my quest for the answer, I thought I would prowl around Sitepoint Marketplace, as kind hearted sellers often display their traffic stats for all to see. This is what I found:

Site Type Traffic pattern
Social voting troughs at weekends
Vector art resources troughs at weekends
Guitar tuition fairly stable traffic with small peaks at the weekend
Search engine fairly stable traffic random peaks

I had to stop there because most traffic statistics provided in the marketplace did not show data at a daily level. The guitar tuition site had a very level graph, but you could just distinguish some peaks at the weekend – but then it could just have been coincidence. It wasn’t a marked trend.

In the interests of research, I’d like to know if any of you have sites that experience an increase in traffic at the weekends. If you have one of those freaks of nature, let me know. We can gather a posse together and burn it at the stake!

Don’t Fret

The bottom line is that no fretting is required. Nosediving weekend traffic is not a sign that the Google demigods are punishing you. It’s just a sign that they love you during the week.

Google Analytics And WordPress

Google Analytics is my tool of choice for tracking visits to my websites. WordPress is my CMS of choice (at the moment) for powering my websites. Google Analytics and WordPress, therefore, are a good combination for me. This piece explains how to add your Google Analytics code to your WordPress driven website.

Installing Google Analytics In WordPress

This article assumes that you know how to get your Google Analytics code to add to your WordPress installation. According to Google, you need to copy their javascript code block into every webpage you want to track immediately before the </body>  tag. As WordPress uses templates to construct your pages, it’s an easy job to find the one you need to amend and add the code in the correct place. Then the code will automatically appear on every page, and therefore track visitors to every page of your site.

In your WordPress control panel in the Appearance section, click Editor.

template-editorThis takes you to the Edit Themes page. Over on the right, underneath Theme Files, you will see a list of all the templates used to create your website. Different WordPress themes use different templates, although some are common to all themes,  so what I see in my list may not be the same as what you see in yours. We need to find the template that has the </body> tag in it so that we can insert our Google Analytics code immediately before it. As the </body> tag appears towards the end of a web page, there is a good chance that it may be found in the template called footer.php. In fact, footer.php contains the </body> tag and the </html> tag so this is the file we need to edit.

footer-fileClicking on footer.php loads its code into the code editor for us to amend. Place your cursor just before the </body> tag and press Enter a few times to create some space in which to work in. The blank lines aren’t necessary to make the javascript work, but it does make the code a littl easier to read. Copy and paste your Google Analytics code into the space preceding the </body> tag.

paste-google-analytics-codeClick Update File to apply your changes. With this mouse click you’ve just added your Analytics code to every page on your site. You can easily verify that this is the case by loading your browser with a page on your site and viewing the source. Navigate to the bottom of the source code and you should be able to see your Analytics code. To speed this process up, I usually search for the characters ‘gajshost’ as that variable name uniquely identifies the javascript code.

WordPress Themes That Handle Your Google Analytics Code

Some clever designers out there have made the task even easier (but let’s face it, the above procedure is hardly rocket science) by providing an input box in the WordPress control panel that appears if you use their WordPress theme. Woo Themes, for example, provide a theme specific options page in which you can supply your Google Analytics javascript code and this means that you don’t even need to be in the same room as a template file’s code.

woo-themes-google-analytics

Use Expired Domains For Affiliate Sites

Back in April 2009, I was watching an expired domain that was won by someone in the Godaddy Expiring Domain Auctions, and recently I decided to check on the progress that the new owner had made since their purchase. Doing this is good practice if you want to get ideas of how to monetise expired domains. The domain in question is mistertab.com and the statistics that the domain claimed in the auction were:

  • Traffic – 4037 unique visitors per month
  • PR – 4

Using An Expired Domain For Your Own Purposes

The site used to hold a huge library of guitar tablature and one of my concerns when I was thinking about bidding on the domain myself was how on earth I would maintain all that tablature. It seemed too much like hard work to me. What the new owner has done, though, is slap a sales page on the domain’s homepage that hard sells a Clickbank guitar learning course. No maintenance necessary here. The site receives an impressive 4,000 unique visitors per month who are all interested in playing the guitar. The traffic is not as targeted as “buy guitar course” PPC traffic, but the traffic is free and in the guitar playing niche.

Checking Inbound Links

The site now consists of only one page, but what about all the old pages that used to be on the site that may still have links to them? In Yahoo Site Explorer, I found a staggering 57,581 links to the entire site and 57,398 to the domain only. That means that there are only 183 links to internal pages of the site other than the homepage – i.e. pages that don’t exist anymore. When buying an expired domain, it’s a good idea to look after all the existing links and make sure they don’t lead to any “page not found” errors. This is done by redirecting them to another page on the site. An expired domain’s inbound links are like gold dust and must be taken care of. However, in this case the vast majority of the links are to the domain anyway so even if the new owner is lazy and doesn’t bother with their redirects, most of the link juice will remain intact. I’m making the (potentially dangerous) assumption that those extra 183 links aren’t exceedingly valuable (for example, from places like dmoz, wikipedia, .edu sites etc)! In that case, you wouldn’t want to lose them. The only way for me to tell what the owner has done with those 183 links is to find each URL they point to, visit it and see whether it redirects to the homepage. But, of course, we don’t know how to identify those links and it is only a distraction from the main focus of this page – how to monetise an expired domain. I suspect that the value of those links is negligible, though. The next public toolbar PR update will tell us whether they passed any significant amounts of PR.

The Dangers Of Using Copy And Paste Sale Pages

I worry about that sales page. There are multiple versions of it spattered around the internet and duplicate content is bad news for search engine rankings. Although some duplicate content does escape the Google detector vans, using duplicate content is at risk of being filtered out of the SERPs or of being removed from the search engine’s index completely. It’s best avoided. It could be that the new owner knows the risks and the 4,000 UVs/month arrive via the humungous number of links anyway, so search engine rankings are of no concern.

Expired Domain Development

If you had bought this domain, one option you would have is to do a little development on the site yourself. This would involve doing some keyword research on guitar related phrases to determine what people are searching for in this niche and then writing a page about each phrase. See my article on using keyword research to drive content creation for more information on how this can be done. Although the domain receives more than 4,000 uniques / month anyway, I feel confident that the strength of the PR4 domain would help internal pages to rank well with minimal effort. In other words, it wouldn’t take long to boost the traffic numbers to much more than 4,000, simply by writing more highly targeted content. And just maybe, the search phrases that bring those visitors would match some other affiliate products that could be pushed. More mazoola you’ll have a hard time spending.

A Quick Way To Monetise Expired Domains

The lesson here? If you find an expired domain that has the following properties, you can quickly put it to work by using it to drive traffic to an affilate sale:

  • Decent traffic. This is important, as you don’t want to work too hard to build traffic from scratch yourself. Don’t buy an expired domain on the strength of its domain name, links or PR. If you read my 5 Minute Guide To Buying Expired Domains, you can find out how to quickly sift through the thousands of expired domains up for auction at Godaddy – and find a gem.
  • The domain is in a niche that is served by an affiliate product.

Only the owner of mistertab will know how successful their endeavour is, but there is nothing stopping you experimenting with similar expired domains. And if it works, rinse and repeat.