Friday, October 12, 2007

Tip #2: Embrace advertising but respect your readers

If you have any form of advertising on your blog, there is no reason to shy away from it. It's there and everyone can see it. Embrace it! Don't hide from it. This is the first step into building a more harmonious relationship between your ads and your readers.

The next step is to look at your blog as a reader, not just as a writer/producer/creator. Think of one of your favorite blogs and imagine if they had your ads placed the same way. How would you feel about it? This can give you good insight on how some of your readers might feel :)

Next, blog readers are becoming more and more sophisticated. They can spot MFA (made for ads, adsense, etc) blogs from a mile away - assuming they have 2000/20 eyesight. So how do you approach ad placement?

Well, this is not an easy question to answer, because you don't always have creative control over the ads, as far as their design and their content. But here are some thoughts:

1) Try to make the ads organic to the content. And by that I don't mean stick the ads right in between your paragraphs or glue them to the first or last sentence of your blog. Sure, those may increase your hits, but look at it as a reader. It is extremely frustrating trying to read a story when you have to jump around ads from left and right, above and below.

2) Instead segway your ads with the content. If you are talking about product X, you can suggest at the end of the paragraph they can buy it at retailer X (eg for affiliate programs). This is an organic way of providing functionality and an opportunity for revenue.

3) Try to get ads that blend to your format and content. This can be done with unformatted text links ads and with ads that have an option to blend with your content, either automatically (Google Adsense, Blend Template as a Blogger Page Element) or can be manually configured (Google Adsense SetUp page on the AdSense website). Sure, the colorful ads and the cutesy animated graphics are nice, but your blog loses cohesiveness and looks like a carnival. Try an all-text link and see how much nicer it flows. Try this at least for Above the Fold because if you win the reader over ATF, then they are much more likely to page down and page down, bookmark your blog, subscribe to your feed, etc, etc.

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