Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

Placement Strategies To Maximize AdSense Income

Written By: SiteSell in CTPM | December 16, 2014

Placement Strategies To Maximize AdSense Income

The amount you make per click can vary tremendously, and so can the Click-Through Rate (CTR). Consistently high earnings are possible, if you can manage to keep low-paying ads off your pages. It’s a demanding strategic challenge, but very doable.

The following page placement strategies should give you a much greater Click-Through Rate for much less work. They all have been tested and proved by site owners, who reported their impressive results in the SBI! Forums.

Strategy #1: Draw subtle attention to the presence of the ads through smart positioning and formatting and frequency.

Strategy #2: Experiment with different ad formats and placement.

Strategy #3: Use quoted text or testimonials near your ad block.

All of these strategies are fairly straightforward and easy to implement. However, if you prefer to spend your time creating content and finding inbound links, a SiteSell Professional can implement one or more of these AdSense strategies for you.

See for more details.

Strategy #1) Draw subtle attention to the presence of the ads through smart positioning and formatting and frequency.

We would all love to increase the CTR. So position AdSense ads most advantageously… and place them up to the maximum of three times per page (plus an additional three Link Units if you choose to also use those).

Ad units at the top of the page are more valuable (the Cost-per-Click is usually higher) than those lower down, so position your best-performing unit above the fold.

Any other units you use will go in the middle of the article and/or at the end, or possibly in one of the columns, depending on whether the article is long enough to accommodate these extra units.

Be sure to keep a good content to ad ratio on your pages, especially above the fold. Google now looks at that as a quality indicator. Too many ads (not just AdSense ads) and not enough content could trigger a lower position in the search results.

Prime positions? Place an ad where your visitors’ eyeballs are most likely to flow. That will vary from page to page, and even according to how each page is structured. Common “best locations”…

  • above the fold on the left of the page, with the content flowing around the ad unit, and/or
  • at the bottom of the content (giving your visitor a place to go next).

Ad units with the best CTRs – according to Google – are the Large Rectangle (336×280) and the Medium Rectangle (300×250).

An excellent starting point is to place one of these units at the top of the page (to the left, so that text wraps around it) and the other at the bottom, right after the article. Use one size at the top, the other size at the bottom.

If you’re using WordPress, most themes and frameworks allow for insertion of AdSense code on a per-page/post basis via shortcode, or sitewide using a theme/framework option. Check whether yours does.

Two other strongly performing ad units – according to Google – are the 728×90 Leaderboard and the Wide Skyscraper (160×600).

A Leaderboard sits at the top of the page, usually just below the header image. The Skyscraper usually runs down the right column, or the sidebar on a WordPress site, although this has proved to be a poorly performing ad location for many people.

If in doubt, experiment. Every site is different, and what works (or doesn’t work) for others may not work (or will work) for you. Just like everyone else, you’re trying to find the prime location to place ad units on your site.

Learn from the “common wisdom.” But don’t be afraid to go against this wisdom to discover what works best on your site.

For Google’s advice on ad placement, including example site layouts, review this AdSense help file.

Simple. Harmonize the colors of your ad with the colors of your site…

  • If your links are “normal” blue, make the ad links the same blue.
  • If your background is white, give the ads a white background (so they blend more seamlessly into the page).
  • Try making the border of the ad unit white, too (so that it appears to have no border).

Bottom line? Position Google ads to best catch the eye, depending on how your page lays out. Leave breathing room to increase visibility.

Avoid being banned from AdSense, or having lowered search results rankings, by staying within those simple directives. Sometimes, the strategies that you do not do are the best (and safest) ones!

Strategy #2) Experiment with different ad formats and placement.

Google offers you the option to display AdSense in various ad formats (i.e., skyscrapers, banners, rectangles, etc.), allowing you complete flexibility when integrating ads into your content pages.

Proper combination of location and format can make gigantic differences to your income.

Use Google’s powerful channel feature to track results. Without channels, there’s no way to know which ad formats and placements are making you the most money.Channels allow you to track stats for every strategy separately. The more you use channels, the more ways you’ll think up to use them.This is a very important tip about AdSense. Ignore it and you’ll be leaving money on the table.You can compare performance of a banner versus a skyscraper, or track clicks on one group of keyword pages versus other groups of pages, or get results for each individual site (even each individual page) you manage.

When you log in for your reports, you’ll see page views, clicks, and earnings data for individual channels or for any combination of channels.

Click here for information from Google on channels.

You can determine which page, or groups of pages, or which sites, yield the highest Click-Through Rates, and the most money.

Google also offers URL channels. The advantages are…

  • easy to set up
  • you can track an individual page, or a directory of pages.

For more information about creating URL channels, click here.

To track your home page, enter, or if you use WordPress (changing “yourdomain” to your site’s domain name).

If you want to change an ad unit (from a medium to a large rectangle, say), you’ll need to delete the AdSense code on the page and paste in new code for the different ad size. Or change it in the WordPress theme’s or framework’s ad code option.

But some changes are even simpler…

You can change the colors used in a unit with a few clicks…

Go to the My ads section of AdSense, click on an ad’s name, and make all your changes on one page.

And that’s it! No need to change the code on your site. AdSense makes all the changes internally.

How do you know when an experiment works?

One of the most important factors in determining the success of your AdSense campaign is tracking what works and what doesn’t.

Bottom line? Experiment. Test. Try. Track. Keep the winners. Drop the losers.

You can multiply your AdSense income several fold simply by doing this.

Otherwise, how will you ever discover that you could be earning three times as much?

How To Do “Quick and Dirty” Testing

Your testing does not have to be complicated to give you good information. You only need to track two things… the number of page views, and the CTR. These two numbers will give you all the information you need to make the right choices.

A larger number of page views will give you more reliable information. And as the CTR increases, the number of views needed to make an informed decision decreases.

For example, if you’re getting a 5% CTR for one page and 1% for another, you may be able to decide that the increase (or decrease) is accurate and reliable after only 250 page views.

But if you’re getting 0.1% CTR vs. 0.15% CTR, you may need 10,000 impressions to be sure (although you would probably want to change both those pages due to the very low CTR).

Ideally, rather than comparing one page to another, compare one page to itself…

1) Track the page by adding a channel to the AdSense code.

2) Write down the date you start a new format.

3) Get the channel report from AdSense for the applicable dates (i.e., before and after the format change).

4) If your change has decreased your income, switch back to the original format, or try a third format. If your income has gone up, keep the change, or experiment to see if you can increase it again.

While probability theory is rather complex, the key is to have enough data, and enough of a difference, to make sure that any difference you do note was not just a sheer fluke.

People make the “untested cause-and-effect-conclusion” mistake all the time, in all walks of life. By testing everything, and testing them one change at a time, you’ll know exactly what’s causing which effect.

How To Do A/B Split Testing

While quick and dirty testing can give you some answers over a long stretch of time, A/B testing can give you answers in a much shorter period. How? By testing two different formats, colors or placements simultaneously.

If your site receives seasonal traffic, by the time you’ve completed your serial testing (one after the other), you may be into either a high or low traffic period. This will skew your results, which could cause you to make the wrong decision about your ads.

There are a few things to remember when doing A/B split testing…

  • Make only one change at a time. Change only the format of the ad, or only the color of the ad, etc. Never make more than one change. If you do, you’ll never know if the difference in numbers is due to one change over the other, or a combination of the two.
  • One of the two ads you test must be the one you are already running. You need a baseline (or control) from which to measure results.If you’ve had a 10% Click-Through Rate (CTR) for the past several months, it’s safe to assume that the same ad will receive the same CTR during the test. This will allow you to compare the new ad’s CTR with the baseline number.If, however, you start with two new ads, you’ll have no baseline from which to compare one ad to the other.
  • The tested ads must run concurrently, to avoid seasonal and other fluctuations in CTRs.

AdSense provides a tool to do A/B testing. Called Experiments, you can reach it in your AdSense account by clicking on My ads, then on Experiments in the left column.

Setting Up Your A/B Testing

There are two types of experiments you can run: Allow and block, and Ad unit.

Allow and block

On the Experiments page, click on Create near the top. Give a name to the experiment. The goal is Revenue. Add any notes you want.

You can change the general categories, or the sensitive categories, or the types of ads being served.

Leave the Traffic Split checked to let Google optimize the split.

When you’re done, click on the Start experiment button to begin the A/B split test.

Ad unit

On the Experiments page, click on the Create button farther down the page. Give a name to the experiment. The goal is Revenue. Add any notes you want.

Under Variations, choose the original ad unit (the control, as discussed above). As soon as you select your ad unit, you’ll see a new Variation section, which allows you to choose various options, including the ad type and the text ad style.

Let’s test the effects of a colored background on a rectangular ad placed in the top left corner of your home page, just below the first paragraph. You will not change the location of the ad, or the size/shape of the ad, just the background color. Below are the steps you need to take…

If you saved colors when you created your ad, click on the box for the saved colors. Then click on the Use custom settings button. This will give you the option to change the background color.

Leave the Traffic Split checked to let Google optimize the split.

When you’re done, click on the Start experiment button to begin the A/B split test.

Checking the Results

Depending on the number of ad impressions you normally receive, log in to AdSense after a week or two. Click on My ads, then on Experiments. You’ll see your experiment running. Click on it for details.

Google offers the Impressions and Revenue (RPM) for the original and the variation. It also tells you which is doing better than the other, and what confidence level Google has for this comparison.

You can leave the experiment running for more confident results, or end it and keep the original, or end it and make the variation the new ad.

Only switch to the variation if your Revenue is higher. Before you make that decision, compare the Impressions numbers.

Google is supposed to show each ad roughly the same number of times, but you may find a discrepancy in the hundreds or thousands.

Determine whether the lower (or higher) number of impressions may be affecting the Revenue (which is based on 1,000 views).

Strategy #3) Add quoted text or testimonials near your ad blocks.

Many webmasters found that placing images near their ads increased the CTR and income from ads on their sites. When this strategy became overused, Google banned it. But this modified version of that strategy may help you to achieve higher CTRs and income.

Place quoted text just above or just below your ads. This can be a quote highlighted from the page’s content, or a quotation by someone of importance to your niche.

Or try testimonials that you receive from your site’s visitors. They do double duty, pulling other visitors towards the ads, and giving your site a credibility boost.


What works to create a solid income from AdSense on one site is different than every other site. While not every placement strategy here will work for you, the one that will work is to test everything you do.

If you do that, no matter what the strategy, you’ll always wring the most income out of AdSense.

Subscribe to the SiteSell Newsletter for more tips around building and monetizing your website.

SiteSell is a privately held Canadian-based company that helps everyday people start profitable online businesses.

Join The Solo Build It! Community

Get the latest in best-practices and advice for your online business. Let each new article be delivered to your Inbox for free.