This material is adapted from my forthcoming e-book Uncommon AdSense. For more information on the book, join the Uncommon AdSense mailing list.
After you've been accepted into the AdSense program and have gotten the lay of the land, so the speak, one technique to try is the development of the single-page AdSense site.
I say after you're accepted because a single-page site isn't enough to get you accepted into the AdSense program. Acceptance requires a full-fledged site with several pages of navigable content. So you have to build at least one multi-page site before you can tackle a single-page site.
The Single-Page Site
A single-page site is a website that consists of, well, a single page. No “about” page, no sitemap (you don't really need one, do you? — note that you might still want to register the site with Google Sitemaps, but that's different), no “what's new” page, no blog. Just a page of content.
Here's another reason to provide good content: in multi-page sites, AdSense can determine a general theme for the site and use that theme to guide the selection of ads for pages on that site, even if those pages don't have a lot of content themselves. But you can't rely on that for a single-page site. In fact, if you're using a subdomain for the page (more on this below) then you'll see ads chosen based on the main domain's theme if you don't provide enough content.
You don't want too much content, however. The idea is to partially satiate your visitor's thirst for information. Ideally, if they want more they'll click one of the ads (but remember, you can't tell them to do so, either directly or indirectly with leading phrases like “see our sponsors for more information”) instead of hitting the browser's “back” button.
SEO is Key
As you might imagine, good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are extremely important for the single-page site. The page must target a specific keyword, ideally as narrow a niche as you can make it. Make sure you do all the standard SEO tricks:
- keyword in domain
- keyword in title
- keyword in heading
- keyword in bold
- keyword used near the top and bottom of the page
Check the keyword density of the page (important: do this before you place any ads on it) and make sure the focus is on the right keyword.
Getting the keyword in the domain name may be hard. You may find it simpler to use a subdomain associated with a domain you already own, since then you can name the subdomain whatever you want.
No External Links
The simplest way to encourage the visitors to click the ads without actually violating the AdSense terms and conditions is to not link to other sites within your content. If a visitor wants to leave the site they'll either click an ad or hit the “back” button, hopefully the former. If you did a good job with the SEO, the ads they see should be relevant and on-target.
You can, however, supply external links using the alternate URL feature to cover the case when no ads can be shown.
Once you've got your content written and you've tested the page, it's time to enable the ads. You don't want to go overboard with ads here. A horizontal link unit at the top of the page will work well here because it looks like a navigational item. Place an ad unit somewhere on the page. Following the AdSense heatmap isn't necessary here, and ads on the right side (a skyscraper) or at the bottom (a banner) will work just as well. Remember, you want the visitor to read your content so that they'll feel the urge to learn more. That's why an ad at the bottom can work, even if it's below the fold: if they go to the trouble of reading what you've written they'll be more inclined to click an ad. The link unit will catch the “early clickers”; the ad unit is for the “late clickers”.
One ad unit should suffice. Keep the page clean and simple. If the page looks too overtly commercial, the visitor is likelier to hit the “back” button to exit the page. You want to guide them gently to the ads, not hit them over the head with them.
Try a single-page site for your next AdSense project. It's not as easy as you might think — you really have to put a lot of upfront thought into the project, especially in find the right keywords to target — but the earnings could surprise you!
Eric Giguere is the contextual advertising expert who wrote Make Easy Money with Google and Uncommon AdSense. You can read this blog by mail if it's more convenient for you, just send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.