I’ve been asked a lot recently about the best ways to monetize sites and how to squeeze the most out of the ad inventory you carry. Today I’m going to share a strategy I’ve used over the last 1.5 years to consistently get a $100 – $260 sitewide eCPM. To put that into perspective that means my sites are earning $100 – 260 per 1000 page views.
Sounds crazy right? Well it’s actually not THAT difficult if you develop a plan to achieve these goals and set everything you do around achieving them.
I’ll first go over 5 general tips to maximizing your eCPM and then give you 9 actionable steps you can take.
Here are 5 things you must do to achieve the highest possible eCPM:
1) Choose a targeted niche.
You want to create your site around a very targeted niche that has high paying affiliate offers. Think offers in the $18 – 40 range. I’ll tell you why this is important later. In the meantime perfect verticals for $100+ eCPM’s are finance, insurance, auto loans, education, payday, foreclosure and credit reports.
It’s important to find niches with high paying affiliate offers because that means competition on adsense is also high for these terms thereby increasing your eCPM whether you eventually go with CPC monetization or affiliate sales.
2) Test different ad placements.
There are two schools of thought about the placements of your ads – (a) blend your ads with your content or (b) differentiate your ads so they stand out from your content. I have split tested both methods in-depth a year ago and concluded that blending ads got me the highest click through rate (CTR). Since CTR is what you’re optimizing for when test ad blocks, you’ll want to blend your ads.
Here is an ad placement heat map provided by Adsense.
3) Test different ad types.
Test everything when it comes to ad types – CPC vs CPM; text vs image vs video; adsense vs tier 2 cpc networks vs direct sales; capturing leads yourself and emailing vs selling leads; affiliate offers vs adsense. Everything you can think of testing – TEST IT! I’ve discovered amazing things testing all of those things and I can’t emphasize this enough.
4) Have dedicated pages.
If the majority of your site’s content does not specifically relate to the MOST profitable keyword in your vertical then you must have dedicated pages with articles focusing only on your profitable keywords. These are the pages you will want to SEO the most and optimize for highest eCPM.
5) Focus on search engine traffic.
Organic search engine traffic is the most engaged type of traffic there is. These visitors are specifically searching for your topic and will spend the time to read your site more than people who find you through other sources like social bookmarking, external links, etc. Spend time catering to the needs of your search engine traffic and make it easy for them to navigate your site. Think about those visitors the most when writing and designing.
Now for the actionable stuff – take these steps to making money online using this method. I’ll include a hypothetical example under each step.
1.) Choose a very targeted niche.
Example: online schools and education
2.) Find the 1 most relevant keyword.
Use the Adwords keyword tool and find the most profitable keyword while still being realistic that you can rank for it. For example say you’re doing education, don’t go after the keyword “online school” instead go after “online school for nursing” or “online schools in Los Angeles”. You’ll get much less traffic but these clicks will convert, and most importantly you’ll have a realistic chance of ranking for these terms.
3.) Get that keyword in your domain.
You are not building these sites for branding. You are merely trying to take the least path of resistance to rank quickly for highly profitable keywords. So you must get the keyword in the domain even if its messy and not as memorable as it could be.
The only domains worth getting are .com, .net, .org and all those variations with a dash (-). Using our example even if the best domain you can get is Online-School-Nursing.net, get it.
4.) Get 10 articles written for this keyword.
Go to an English speaking online forum or oDesk and find a content writer. You’ll want these written perfectly in fluent English.
5.) Do on-page and off-page SEO.
If you don’t know how to do this read SEOBook. Make sure you do at least the basics and you shouldn’t have trouble ranking for the term you select.
6.) Start with Adsense.
7.) Test affiliate offers.
Sign up for some affiliate networks (ask me if you want recommendations) and test a nursing education offer. Remember step 1 told you to find a targeted niche that has high paying affiliate offers? Well now is that time – Either create your own ad blocks that look like adsense or get creative. There are plenty of opportunities to creatively get people to click your ad and best of all you’re not restricted by an ad networks terms of service.
For nursing I’d test having a zip code box or state drop down menu that allows visitors to search for nursing schools around them. Fake functionality ads will increase CTR dramatically.
8.) Look for additional opportunities.
Depending on your niche there could be opportunity to capture leads and sell them to companies. I recently attended LeadsCon and there were plenty of buyers out there. If your niche can be applied locally pick up the phone and call local businesses. Using the nursing example you can look up LeadPoint and LeadPile as additional sources to sell to.
9.) Optimize this mix.
At this point you will have tons of data so lay it all in front of you and make a decision on what worked best. If you’ve done this correctly you will be well into the $100 – $300 eCPM range.
I’d implement this strategy on 1 site first. Spend a month or two growing and SEO’ing the site before moving onto your next one. I started doing this 1.5 years ago in my free time and now have 6 – 7 highly targeted niche sites with $100 – $300 eCPM’s.
The beauty in this method is when you get that handful of sites all making money. But it takes one success for this to really hit and gain momentum. It becomes easier with each site you succeed with.
Let me know how this works for you guys and you can always email me on the contact page with questions.