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Change Adsense Colors to Increase Adsense Clicks

If you’re a blogger, and you’ve decided to monetize your blog with Google Adsense, you’re in the right place. I’m going to outline a quick tip you can use to increase your click-through rate or “CTR” in web-speak.

Default Adsense AdBy default, your Adsense ads look a lot like the ads on Google’s search results pages. Blue links, black text–pretty standard stuff. Like this —–>

“Hey, that’s great, right?” Well, maybe, but…

In our experience, people tend to click more on ads that look like they’re part of the content of the site.

Here’s a fun analogy to illustrate my thinking:

Let’s say you’d like to advertise your product on some traditional outdoor advertising, like a billboard. OK, sure, maybe 50,000 people a day drive by your billboard, and some of them look at it. They look at it and because they know it’s a billboard, they know it’s an ad, and some of them absorb your message.

That’s what the default Adsense ads are like. People look at them through the lens of “this is an ad, so someone is trying to sell me something here.” For a lot of people, that puts a wall up. They don’t pay attention, and they don’t click (even if the ad is for something totally relevant to their needs).

Now, let’s say you have a chance to re-design that billboard.

Instead of making a billboard that looks like a billboard, make it look like a regular highway sign.

You might be thinking, “Hey that makes total sense! People pay more attention to regular highway signs than they do to billboards. If our ads can look like they’re a regular (and important) part of the environment, they’ll get more attention!”

I couldn’t agree more. So, how do you do it?

Standing Out by Blending In

If you followed our Guide to Installing Adsense, this will be super easy for you.

In your WordPress admin panel, under Settings, click on Adsense. This will open up the configuration options for the All in One Adsense and YPN plugin.

Scroll about half-way down the page to the section called “Colors”.

Here you can enter your HTML color codes and tweak your ad borders, background, links, text and URL so they blend in with your site. It usually takes a little trial-and-error to get the colors right (for me anyway, because I’m not a design genius), but give it a shot.

Now, the fun part is trying it for yourself. Let me know how it impacts your Adsense earnings. Or if you’ve tried a strategy that works better, shout about it in the comments.

Here’s a before and after (click each image to enlarge it):

Adsense BeforeAdsense After

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How To: Monetize Your Blog with Adsense & Affiliate Ads

Just as there are many reasons to blog, there are many ways to monetize a blog. Today, I’ll be going over the nuts and bolts of setting up advertising on your blog. Specifically, setting up Google Adsense and Commission Junction affiliate ads on WordPress. I’ve created some helpful step-by-step videos to walk you through the whole process. Before I jump in to the technical “how-to” stuff, let’s talk very briefly about content strategy.

Developing Your Blog Monetization Strategy

Before you try to monetize your blog with ads, ask yourself a few questions. What type of relationship do you have with your blog readers? Why do they come to your blog? Do they read you because you tell them about all kinds of great resources, or because you are the great resource? Are you the intermediary between your audience and all the content your audience wants…or are you the end of the road?

If people come to you because you write 2000 word articles about your original research about your topic, why would they click on an ad? They’re seeking deep content and you’re providing it. They have no reason to go anywhere else.

If, however, you write 400 word articles about what other people are doing, it makes sense for your readers to click away. If your topic is “vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco”, and you just write reviews of different restaurants, you’re acting as an intermediary, rather than the end of the road. To monetize with ads, try to build a niche audience and train them to click on things they might find interesting.

I’ll write more about strategy in a future post. If you’re a blogger with some specific questions or ideas, don’t be shy in the comments.

Want to go through it step by step? Watch these videos full-screen for best results.

Installing Commission Junction Ads in WordPress

This is the first video in the series and covers installing the two plugins we like to use, as well as setting up Commission Junction ads.

Once you’ve finished installing the plugins featured in the above video, move on to…

Installing Google Adsense Ads in WordPress

The second video, showing how to get Adsense ads up and running on your self-hosted WordPress site.

Did I miss anything? Get stuck? Have a better way? Shout about it in the comments.

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Where to Find Great WordPress Themes

This is another one of those questions I get asked all the time.

“Where can I find the best themes for WordPress?” I’m glad you asked…

There are a lot of great reasons to use WordPress as a content management system for blogs and small-business websites. It’s a powerful platform that can scale to work brilliantly with small and simple sites, or big and complex sites. Another great thing about building on WordPress is plugging into a huge community of developers and users who have built great themes and plugins you can use to make your site look and work just the way you like.

These are our go-to resources for great WordPress themes. Most of them are Premium Theme sites, which means you’ll pay a little bit up front (but almost always save money overall). We strongly prefer the back-end options and support that come with these paid themes, and the cost is quickly recovered because making changes to the design and architecture of a site are far simpler than with most free themes. It’s the difference between buying a gorgeous pre-fab home versus building the same home from scratch–better to pay early and pay less. All of these resources have earned a reputation for quality and value.

Here’s the list:

StudioPress

StudioPress makes some of the best WordPress themes around, especially for business websites. We’ve built two of our own websites using themes from StudioPress, and we have been extremely happy with both the design and the support we’ve received. There are lots of goodies on the administrative side that make customizing a breeze. Prices for individual themes are about $80, with their special themes for real estate agents starting at $99.95.

The best deal (ever), if you’re going to be setting up multiple sites is the All-Theme Package which gives you all 20 of their current themes, plus all future themes for $349.95. If you’re a developer, you can buy this once and use it on as many sites as you want. See more at StudioPress.com

ThemeForest

ThemeForest is an online marketplace for premium WordPress themes. This is a great place to go when a client wants a site “that doesn’t look like a blog”. That means they have a clean and custom look to them, many with lots of bells and whistles like multiple color palates. Some are specifically designed for e-commerce. Most of these themes are developed by individuals and priced around $30. No kidding! We recently set up a gorgeous site using a theme from ThemeForest, and the client liked the theme so much, our customization time was less than an hour. Talk about getting good value for money. See more at ThemeForest.net

ElegantThemes

Nick Roach from ElegantThemes has been making extremely high-quality and good-looking WordPress themes for years. They’re a dream to work with, and to look at. They release new themes often, and two of the latest to come out are stunning. I can’t wait to try the Minimal theme or the Polished theme. This is what it’s all about, ElegantThemes make you look good. You sign up as a member for $39 per year and get access to all the themes. It’s a pretty amazing deal, considering all you get. Sign up at ElegantThemes.com

Thesis

What can I say about Thesis? If you’re serious about blogging and internet marketing, and you like to have your hands on the wheel, and you like the idea of controlling the design of your site without messing with a bunch of code, take a look at Thesis. Watch the video on DIYthemes.com to see some of what Thesis can do, and how easy it is to use. Great SEO options, support, and pricing. It’s $87 for one site, or $164 for unlimited use on sites you own. You also get 30 days to try it, risk free. How cool is that?

WordPress Free Themes Directory

WordPressMore than a thousand free themes for WordPress. Some of these are great, others are not so great. We’ve built plenty of sites using free themes; and a few free themes are as good as a premium theme (a few out of a thousand). Be sure to check out the tag-filter to help sort through the list. We tend to like features like theme-options, custom-header, and custom-colors–as much because they’re handy as they show some sophistication of the developer. Watch out for themes with spammy links in the footers. We’ve been seeing more of that lately, and sometimes they’re a pain to remove, so just be sure to take a close look.

Know of a great resource we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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