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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fishing and Adsense content...

I used to go on a regular early summer fishing expedition with friends. I can remember one cool morning when the three of us were out on the boat. Neil was using some sort of crazy oversized lure that reduced his efforts to little more than casting practice. Sam was relying on slugs, casting toward the open water and coming up empty. I used a small jig-head with a chunk of worm, dropped it off the edge of the boat and bounced it around the rocks. I caught a lot of very edible perch.

Let me note that both of those two guys were (and are, for that matter) better anglers than I am. My technique is not as refined and their knowledge of those Minnesota lakes far exceeds my own. They were good, but they weren't catching fish. I was using the right bait for the job and was landing enough to feed us all that night. True, I was catching perch instead of those much-coveted walleyes, but I was still bringing home the groceries.

I thought of that morning when I read a post to a Q&A forum operated by well-known internet marketer Willie Crawford that argued quality content kills Adsense earnings. The author, who was seeking Willie's guidance, noted that when he filled a site with original, high-quality content he saw his Adsense earnings decline. This led him to believe that good content was a real blow to those seeking to earn via Adsense.

It's an interesting theory and I believe it has some merit. People click on Adsense ads because they want to find more information or to check out products that may meet their needs. If on-page content fills their needs completely, they are probably less likely to click on the ads. Thus, if your widget site provides all of the answers and information anyone would ever want about widgets, you may not get the number of clicks or CTR you'd like with Adsense.

So, does this mean that you should immediately give up on using decent content on Adsense sites? I don't think so. If you are looking for real Adsense profits you can still benefit from good content. It just has to be the right kind of content.

Those who read accounts like the one I found might just say "to heck with it" and start filling their pages with keyword rich gibberish or may even turn to content scraping to trick out their Adsense pages. This is really not a good idea. First, it risks running afoul of the Adsense TOS. Second, it creates an unuseable and unattractive page that is more likely to produce a click on the back arrow than anywhere else. Yes, you will get some "escape clicks" as people flee the mess. However, you are also going to lose some potential clickers. Quite a few of them.

Rotten content is a bad idea. Comprehensive, information-rich content might decrease clicks. What's the alternative? Content produced with Adsense sites in mind.

This kind of content is sufficiently keyword rich to trigger the right ad units. It is also highly readable and provides some valuable information and insight. However, it is not designed to answer all of the world's widget questions. Instead, it is written to provide a degree of value while simultaneously spurring additional interest in the subject matter.

Writing content for Adsense can be a tricky proposition. It requires an understanding of SEO, Adsense and surfer behavior. It can be something of a hybrid writing form lingering somewhere between copywriting and straight exposition.

The kind of copy that really makes clicks happen is designed with Adsense in mind. It keeps people around long enough by being well-written and accessible. It provides enough real information to be perceived as a valuable resource. It also serves to increase interest in the subject matter, resulting in more clicks.

What did all of this have to do with fishing in Minnesota? You can catch dinner with the right bait. In this case, the base is Adsense-compatible content. That kind of content may not be what one wants on a sales page or their front page but it is the kind of worm that can get you a meal's worth of perch in a hurry. Use the top-drawer stuff to catch walleye. Toss the garbage overboard.