Low CTR. Good niche, I'm doing something wrong.

26 replies
  • SEO
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Hey guys, I'm glad to have found the site. I know one of the common questions asked (or issues rather) from adsense users is low CTR, which is my issue now. I am new to adsense and still have a lot to learn; I have read several threads and faq about low CTR but I'm still not having much luck after I've made some suggested changes.

My website is for free drumline music.

FreeDrumlineMusic (dot) com

I update the site weekly, adsense says I have an average of 2,300 views a day (not sure if that is unique or not) and I have close to 10,000 real, honest Facebook likes on the facebook page from true fans of the site. (The site is only about 3 months old)

However, my CTR is still at an average of 0.3%. The website is designed by using several images. Most of my ads seem to be irrelevant. I keep getting ads for electric scooters and Zune tablets. This afternoon I went in and added alternate text to the images in hope that that might bring more relevant ads (does adsense crawl image alt. text for ad selection?) The site consists of many... MANY pages. But I only have ads showing on the most active pages. (The home page, sheet music, cadences page, and the individual Level cadence pages, as that is where most of my traffic goes)

I'm hoping the addition of the alt. text descriptions, filled with info about drums might bring some more relevant ads. (Most of the ads I use are full image ads) I feel as though if I had more ads for drum related products that the CTR might increase. Most of the traffic to this site is from high school students, and the majority of them probably aren't interested in electric wheelchairs and other generic products that the ads are displaying.

If anyone has any suggestions I would be truly grateful. I started this website with the intent of making NO money, but to only assist school band programs around the world that suffer from a lack of information and proper material, after finding out about adsense I felt as though it may allow me to update the site even more and make it even better if I can can make a little money off of it.

Thank you so much for your time! I'm open to any suggestions!
#ctr #good #low #niche #wrong
  • Profile picture of the author Blue445nm
    The one thing I absolutely hate about sites is when you have to move the scroll bar to see the whole thing.

    1) Remove the left hand side ad so users don't have to scroll
    2) Make your ads jump out the page - Use white
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
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    No offense, after looking at the site, Wow!

    The page is extremely distracting from the Adsense Ads, way too many wild colors/images going on.

    Needs a complete overhaul IMO.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikeshinobi
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by mikeshinobi View Post

      Your ad colors are terrible. Light text on a dark background? Have you read Ca? The ad block blends in almost entirely into your background. People can't click what they can't see.

      Not that they would want to, anyway, because your visitors are obviously looking for "free drumline music" while the ads are for things like "Watch TV Online" and "No Essay Scholarships". Completely untargeted. I'm not sure why you think this is a good niche.

      "Lots of traffic + adsense" isn't an automatic winning combination, contrary to what many will try to tell you.

      But hey, your site looks pretty nice. However, it loads extremely slowly, and even scrolling is slow. Just thought you might want to take care of that.
      I have changed the text ad colors and have also simplified the site a little. It no longer has "so many" distractions and the ads appear to blend in a little better.

      After adding the alt. text I am seeing a few more slightly relevant ads.
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  • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
    Thanks for the input guys. I agree that it is a little flashy, a little much, and bright. I was just trying to keep the site unique and different, and really stand out to students.

    I agree that if I dull it down that the ads will stick out more, but the ad content is.... not anywhere near relevant to my site. Shouldn't that be the top priority?
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    • Profile picture of the author jamaks
      Hi, you certainly need a lot more text to page weight ratio but simply making it an image alt text will not do the trick. Accessability guidelines say the number of characters in an alt text should not exceed 100. This figure is likely, although I do not know, as far as the search engine would take notice of a single image alt text. If adsense is to play a part in your overall plan then it needs to contain enough content to made contextual advertising viable.

      Jim
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      • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
        Originally Posted by jamaks View Post

        Hi, you certainly need a lot more text to page weight ratio but simply making it an image alt text will not do the trick. Accessability guidelines say the number of characters in an alt text should not exceed 100. This figure is likely, although I do not know, as far as the search engine would take notice of a single image alt text. If adsense is to play a part in your overall plan then it needs to contain enough content to made contextual advertising viable.

        Jim
        Thank you Jim,

        I have actually seen an increase in relevant ads after a few lines of alt. text has been added to a few of the images. Perhaps I can find new ways to add a larger bulk of text to the pages.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    OP, why do you have 2 sites with the exact same content?

    1) hxxp://www.cassidybyars.com/
    2) hxxp://freedrumlinemusic.com/




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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      OP, why do you have 2 sites with the exact same content?



      Yukon,

      cassidybyars(dot)com was my old website, I have the site under both URL for users who know the site by the old name before I turned it into freedrumlinemusic.com. Eventually I will lose the cassidybyars(dot)com. Is that an issue that I should be concerned about?
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
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        Originally Posted by cassidy0998 View Post

        Yukon,

        cassidybyars(dot)com was my old website, I have the site under both URL for users who know the site by the old name before I turned it into freedrumlinemusic.com. Eventually I will lose the cassidybyars(dot)com. Is that an issue that I should be concerned about?
        As you can see in the screenshot I posted earlier, Google is confused what's the correct site & yes I imagine that will mess with SERP rankings for whichever sites/pages you want ranked in the SERPs.

        If both sites are exact copies (looks like it to me) I would do a 301 redirect from the old site URL to the new site URL, maybe a message explaining to old traffic what's going on, on the new landing page of the new site.
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        • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
          Originally Posted by yukon View Post

          As you can see in the screenshot I posted earlier, Google is confused what's the correct site & yes I imagine that will mess with SERP rankings for whichever sites/pages you want ranked in the SERPs.

          If both sites are exact copies (looks like it to me) I would do a 301 redirect from the old site URL to the new site URL, maybe a message explaining to old traffic what's going on, on the new landing page of the new site.

          The main page is listed under both URLs, I don't have two websites. I will try to get that redirected though, I still don't fully understand why google has that confused. FreeDrumlineMusic.com is listed as my primary domain name.
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  • Profile picture of the author Blue445nm
    It looks better than before but like I said before, get rid of having users scroll to the right... It's annoying!
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by Blue445nm View Post

      It looks better than before but like I said before, get rid of having users scroll to the right... It's annoying!
      Blue,

      I was completely unaware that you had to scroll over to see the rest of the page. The site has looked fine on several computers/ipad/phones for some time now. What screen resolution are you viewing the site at?
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      • Profile picture of the author Carl Brown
        I do too. It's not the screen resolution. The pages are aligned to the right instead of centered. The site fits on my 1024x768 but you have to scroll right

        Here's what I see:

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        • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
          Originally Posted by Carl Brown View Post

          I do too. It's not the screen resolution. The pages are aligned to the right instead of centered. The site fits on my 1024x768 but you have to scroll right


          Carl, I think I have it fixed now. Took me a little while to figure it out. Everything was centered but I had some funky stuff going on with a few of the tables. Thanks for posting the picture I had no idea it was that bad.
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      • Profile picture of the author Blue445nm
        Originally Posted by cassidy0998 View Post

        Blue,

        I was completely unaware that you had to scroll over to see the rest of the page. The site has looked fine on several computers/ipad/phones for some time now. What screen resolution are you viewing the site at?
        1280 x 1024...
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  • Profile picture of the author johnnys229
    As ever with Adsense, a basic theme gets far, far higher CTR than a fancy site full of graphics jumping out at you all the time. That simple principle is one which you should follow always, if you don't want to get CTR as poor as 0.3% ever again.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      You need content. You have images, and not much else.
      In fact, very little of substance.

      You will not get shinola by stuffing the alt for an image. Google
      tells you to name it what it is. It's not content. You basically
      have a whole page of text as "alt" text. That's crazy.
      Whoever told you to do that with the alt is just insane.

      What you should do instead, is put that text on the page as,
      well, text.

      Google loves reading text.

      The next crazy thing, is that you have images that are in place
      of text. How do you expect google to read the text that is an
      image? This page: freedrumlinemusic.com/lessons/knotes.html
      Is nothing but images...crazy.

      You also need to not get cute with urls. Google looks at that as
      a major signal, so do your readers. What the heck is knotes?
      Know your notes? Why not put know-your-notes, then do
      the content using TEXT! Not images.

      Your website really lacks substance.

      Paul
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      If you were disappointed in your results today, lower your standards tomorrow.

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      • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        You need content. You have images, and not much else.
        In fact, very little of substance.

        You will not get shinola by stuffing the alt for an image. Google
        tells you to name it what it is. It's not content. You basically
        have a whole page of text as "alt" text. That's crazy.
        Whoever told you to do that with the alt is just insane.

        What you should do instead, is put that text on the page as,
        well, text.

        Google loves reading text.

        The next crazy thing, is that you have images that are in place
        of text. How do you expect google to read the text that is an
        image? This page: freedrumlinemusic.com/lessons/knotes.html
        Is nothing but images...crazy.

        You also need to not get cute with urls. Google looks at that as
        a major signal, so do your readers. What the heck is knotes?
        Know your notes? Why not put know-your-notes, then do
        the content using TEXT! Not images.

        Your website really lacks substance.

        Paul
        At the time it seemed like a good idea, nobody told me to do anything, it's no one's fault but my own. I am new to site building.

        The whole purpose of this site is for students and teachers who want drumline sheet music, and that's it. Everything else is a bonus. About 90% of the traffic goes straight to the sheet music pages and doesn't spend much time anywhere else. To you it may appear that the site lacks substance, but there is no need to flood a ton of unnecessary information on the site - no other reason than to help my adsense ads. People are there for the PDFs and audio recordings, that's it.

        I will try to implement text into the pages though, perhaps this will bring about some more relevant ads. I am not concerned with the site as being lacking, as I am happy with the traffic for the short time it has been around. The people are getting what they want. But you are right, more text makes sense. I will see what I can do to fix that.

        Thank you very much!
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
    Why not kill the AdSense and charge for the PDF downloads?
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

      Why not kill the AdSense and charge for the PDF downloads?
      The whole purpose of the site is to keep everything free. Hence the name FreeDrumlineMusic.com. It is nothing other than a personal preference of mine to keep it that way. I do, however, sell the mp3 recordings on iTunes.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    You can see the horizontal scroll bar here: Website Overview for http://freedrumlinemusic.com/

    Click on each thumbnail image in the link. The link expires in 25min.
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      You can see the horizontal scroll bar here:

      Click on each thumbnail image in the link. The link expires in 25min.
      Yukon,

      The screenshots appear to be of computer screens set to 1024 x 768 resolution. Any other screen resolution works just fine. If I reconfigure the site for 1024 x 768 it will throw off some of the design elements for the higher screen resolutions. Is this worth fixing? I rarely see such a low resolution settings anymore on computers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Leo Wadsworth
    Yes, it is worth fixing. Your design needs to work at all popular resolutions, and 1024x768 is still quite popular.

    One way to decide how much effort it is worth is to use Google Analytics and to look at the browser window size. That way, you can decide. If 5 people a year are using a particular resolution, then you probably don't want to spend 9 months fixing it. <grin>

    Often, my rule of thumb is that the site should look good for 90+% of the visitors. This determines the window size and browsers I build my sites for. Some sites attract different users with different typical equipment. This is especially true if you start dealing with international variations.
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by Leo Wadsworth View Post

      Yes, it is worth fixing. Your design needs to work at all popular resolutions, and 1024x768 is still quite popular.

      One way to decide how much effort it is worth is to use Google Analytics and to look at the browser window size. That way, you can decide. If 5 people a year are using a particular resolution, then you probably don't want to spend 9 months fixing it. <grin>

      Often, my rule of thumb is that the site should look good for 90+% of the visitors. This determines the window size and browsers I build my sites for. Some sites attract different users with different typical equipment. This is especially true if you start dealing with international variations.
      Excellent advice Leo! Thank you so much. I didn't even think to look at my analytics resolution traffic. 1024x768 is right at about 9% of my traffic.

      You guys are sharp, thank you so much for the advice. I will try a few new things based on everyone's advice and report back in the near future!
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  • Profile picture of the author blanchi
    Cassidy, in my opinion you have a nice looking website. If Adsense is your main monetization tool, you to make your site less visually appealing. People go to your site, see how nice it is and they don't want to click through to the sponsors... plus, you have some good free content, so why go to an advertisers's site?

    Someone else mentioned charging for the PDF downloads... this could be a better monetization strategy if you don't want a website that looks more like a newsletter. And the newsletter/blog type of site is what Google loves because, as someone else mentioned, Google loves to find tons of content on the pages of your site - that's how they will rank you - right now, they see a pretty image, some adsense, then some dark area with links to other areas of your site (and that dark area looks like it is not even active - I wonder how many visitors click out of your site when they see this).

    I think you have a cool site with tons of potential. Get the other site, which seems to be a mirror site, forwarded to this new one so it doesn't confuse the Google bot, and if Adsense is your main montization strategy, make that huge image (a lot) smaller and then throw tons of content on that front page, a good chunk of it above the fold, if possible.

    If Adsense is not your primary source of income, then this kind of site should do well... just like a lot of other commercial sites on the internet.

    Hope this helped a little. Some good advice has already been posted.

    Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author cassidy0998
      Originally Posted by blanchi View Post

      Cassidy, in my opinion you have a nice looking website. If Adsense is your main monetization tool, you to make your site less visually appealing. People go to your site, see how nice it is and they don't want to click through to the sponsors... plus, you have some good free content, so why go to an advertisers's site?

      Someone else mentioned charging for the PDF downloads... this could be a better monetization strategy if you don't want a website that looks more like a newsletter. And the newsletter/blog type of site is what Google loves because, as someone else mentioned, Google loves to find tons of content on the pages of your site - that's how they will rank you - right now, they see a pretty image, some adsense, then some dark area with links to other areas of your site (and that dark area looks like it is not even active - I wonder how many visitors click out of your site when they see this).

      I think you have a cool site with tons of potential. Get the other site, which seems to be a mirror site, forwarded to this new one so it doesn't confuse the Google bot, and if Adsense is your main montization strategy, make that huge image (a lot) smaller and then throw tons of content on that front page, a good chunk of it above the fold, if possible.

      If Adsense is not your primary source of income, then this kind of site should do well... just like a lot of other commercial sites on the internet.

      Hope this helped a little. Some good advice has already been posted.

      Good luck.
      Thank you for the compliment on the site and for the advice. The site is not my primary source of income, but it certainly doesn't hurt to make a little money off of it to help give me the energy to keep it updated. After trying a few suggestions from this thread I have managed to reach a CTR between .5% and 1% for the past several days. Still not much, but a vast improvement over .3%. Thanks again, I will keep this thread updated as the site continues to grow, and as I try a few new techniques to increase traffic/adsense profit.
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