When Less Is More – Cutting Traffic by 20% for Higher Adsense RPM & Profits
This article is intended for anyone interested in making money online via Adsense whether a beginner or seasoned Adsense entrepreneur. I suspect this will be most useful for someone who is somewhere in the middle and has had some success with Adsense but ready to take it to the next level.
I never thought the day would come where I’d be preaching about how I purposely cut my website traffic by 20% and was happy about it.
Revenue & Traffic Obsessions in the Adsense Honeymoon Phase
When I first started monetizing web sites there were two statistics that I became obsessed with, the first and obvious one was revenue and the second was traffic. I needed to know how much money I was making and how many people were visiting my websites. I had been told that the Adsense novice will spend too much time obsessing with statistics and I was about as bad as you can get which ultimately just added time to the learning process. In the first few months of learning Adsense I can remember checking Adsense stats every single day and sometimes several times per day.
Eventually the Adsense “honeymoon phase” ended along with the desire to check the stats. There are several events that I equate with what I call the Adsense Honeymoon Phase and they are:
- Achieving your first site visitor, comment and link-back
- First Adsense ad-click (not made by a friend who felt bad for you)
- First Adsense check received from Google (at least $100 the minimum payout)
Boredom vs Ego during the Adsense Learning & Growth Phase
The period following the honeymoon was long, boring and filled with cycles alternating between optimism and complete disbelief. For me this phase lasted a good year and it is when I started to see that making a living with Adsense was like building any business, it would take a fair amount of time and effort. The effort came in spurts and time, well it went by too. I was pretty sure that making money online was simply a numbers game, and if you can figure out how to make one website profitable that you could duplicate that effort and make a living. My belief that it was a numbers game started to fade when traffic would increase but revenue would increase in diminishing amounts.
Rapidly Increasing Demand, Diminishing Revenue Gains and Choke Point
There was a point where things went downhill in a hurry, and the site demand exceeded the server ability. Continual CPU-throttling was causing outages and periods where the site was not available or too slow to be useful and there was a marked drop in traffic and revenue. At this point it was either spend more money for computing power or let the sites crash and burn. The cost of upgrading service exceeded the revenue generated so the decision to cut traffic was somewhat easy.
(Updated April 16, 2013: Added Finalized Google Adsense Statistics for March which were incomplete at the time this article. The earnings were about $10, or about 20% lower than my estimate of $50. My bad estimate illustrates the fact that Adsense income and statistics are extremely variable and shorter measurement periods will increase the size of statistic fluctuations, for example if you use daily statistics you might see huge fluctuations in earnings statistics > +-100%, and weekly statistics will be more steady at +-75%, monthly even better at +-40% which still sucks. Notice that it is common for my site to see monthly fluctuations > +-30% making it nearly impossible to estimate them with any degree of accuracy.)
- Page views: 8,550
- Clicks: 99
- Page CTR: 1.16%
- CPC $.0.51
- Page RPM: $5.87
- Estimated Earnings: $50.15
The Adsense statistics shown paint a picture of the progression from growth to traffic reduction and results from the actions taken. Traffic was pruned by about 20% and in the following months Adsense RPM has increased to levels not seen before and revenue back on a solid growth trajectory with plenty of computing power left over (cpu-throttling ended in Dec ’12) to support future growth and most importantly proving that making money online with Adsense is entirely do-able and simply a numbers game albeit a challenging one.
Traffic Reductions – Increases in Adsense RPM, Revenue
Traffic reductions were completed in two phases where I identified the most expensive consumers of the content. This was done by looking at web-logs and a identifying IP addresses that were hitting the site hundreds of times per day with little or no benefit. I was careful about the traffic pruning as I didn’t want to mess up somebody’s RSS feed so I researched each IP address that was being pruned. Nearly all were BOTS from companies known for aggregating data and creating junk sites with the sole purpose of generating revenue using other peoples’ content. The pruning was accomplished via .htaccess file.
Revenue typically declined over the holidays so it is hard to tell if the pruning had an impact on revenue, but I suspect it did not. Site performance is much better, cpu-throttling is non-existent, and revenues are back on a growth trajectory with plenty of computing power to handle the visitors of the future.
Continual Improvements, Goals & Adaptation
March 2013 revenue is set to exceed the highest monthly record set back in Oct 2012 and RPM has increased to a respectable $5-$7 range which isn’t too bad considering the type of websites. At this point I have learned that Adsense is a great way to make money online, and there is some great potential for residual type income, for example I have websites generating several dollars per day that have not been touched in six months or more. With hard work, dedication, and time there is no reason you can’t plan to use Adsense as a retirement income or as a primary income source.
Like anything worthwhile having goals is important. My goals have changed over the years but I remember the most difficult… reaching $.10 per day and reaching $1.00 per day in Adsense revenue were my two most difficult goals that took between two and three years to achieve. Reaching $10 per day was easier than reaching either of the two goals but still takes some effort and patience. I have not yet reached my next goal of $100 daily in Adsense revenue but I think that I’ll reach it before the end of 2013.
I hope this information was helpful and welcome comments or suggestions.
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