Technorati are releasing their annual state of the blogosphere during the course of this week. Giving a round up of who is blogging, how often they are blogging, and what they are blogging about. It shows that whilst I epitomise the average blogger, that isn’t enough in the scale-free network of the web.
The average blogger is male, 18-34, ‘college’ graduate, and have a household income over $75,000. They have been blogging over two years and half have a second blog.
However, whilst I blog regularly and find myself firmly in the top half of active blogs (1.5 million blogs posted in the last 7 days, Technorati ranks me 601,571), I earn nowhere near the mean annual revenue for those with advertising: $6,000. My current Google AdSense earnings: $16.61. The reason for this discrepancy is the power-law distribution of traffic and earnings; most of the bloggers are hanging around in that long tail. If Technorati has decided to show the mode average of blogs with advertising, it would probably be have been nearer to my measly $16.61 dollars.
Today is the one year anniversary of my Webometric Thoughts blog! Unfortunately, despite having a Google anniversary logo commissioned especially for the event (way back in January), Google have decided to give preference to another Olympic logo today instead.
Over the last year I have managed to blog fairly regularly (this is my 286th post), and this has been reflected in a steady increase in traffic. Since I started using Google Analytics in October I have had 15,484 absolute unique visitors:
Most importantly, the number of unique visitors can be seen to be increasing month on month. This increase can also be seen in my Alexa ranking:
When checking my Alexa ranking back in September my ranking was 8,926,204, whilst in January it was 3,816,072. Whilst Alexa changed its ranking algorithm in April, today’s results show an improvement on the 1,607,649 I got then. Even Technorati shows an improvement, as I am now in the top half a million blogs!
So, what are the aims of Webometric Thoughts over the next year:
-Break into the top 100,000 web sites (according to Alexa)
-Break into the top 100,000 blogs (according to Technorati)
-Make the blog self-financing (since starting to use Google Ads in March I have earned $14.05…I need to earn approximately $50 a year).
-And, obviously, write higher quality posts.
This morning I discovered that another person had clicked on one of my GoogleAds, earning me 73 cents and taking me within spitting distance of the $10 mark (where Google ask for my banks details). Whilst GoogleAds don’t make me a fortune, it is always interesting to see the ads that Google ‘thinks’ most appropriate for my site. A glance today finds that I strangely have an ad for hotels in Leamington Spa on the homepage! There was once a Leamington Spa post on the front-page of the blog, but it has long since descended into the archives, and any visitors would find Leamington Spa hotels wholly inappropriate (except whilst this post is visible). Anyway, whilst clicking around on the AdSense site I decided that it would be interesting to see what videos ads the AdSense Player algorithms would deem appropriate for my site.
Without entering any keywords, and accepting videos from all categories:
Quick Online Tips have posted about the effect on their traffic due to being mentioned on the BBC’s Click. One of the points that they noticed was that the extra visitors didn’t click on the Google Ads, something I have found whenever I have had an increase in traffic.
Whilst my Webometric Thoughts aren’t in the same traffic-ball-park as Quick Online Tips (since I started keeping statistics on Oct 9th I have had 8,609 absolute unique visitors, less than QOT has in the average day), there have nonetheless been a few occasions when I have seen an unexpected rise in traffic: mentions on the BBC’s internet blog,a recent rise due to my Wii Fit posts, and a comment I posted on Engadget (surprisingly producing my personal high of 176 absolute unique visitors in a day). But the rise rarely corresponds to a rise in ad-clicks.
As I am only discussing a low number of visitors in it hard to draw firm conclusions about the relationship between the number of visits and ad-clcks, although I think it probably goes something like this: Although a small proportion of all visitors will click on an ad, the proportion will be slightly higher for more regular visitors due to factors such as trust, and wanting a site to do well.
I would be interested to know if anyone has ever had a rise in traffic from one source that was particularly rich. Not necessarily a lot of clicks, just a high percentage.
Whilst I tend to read a lot around the subject of web 2.0, as well as the web and webometrics generally, it is a rare occassion when I mention these books in the blog; primarily because this is not meant to be a book review site. However, after noticing the Amazon Bookshop of the Online Journalism Blog I decided to include one, after all some people like to have books recommended to them and the whole process only took about 20 mins (most of which was getting the colour scheme to match).
At the moment only a couple of books have been added, but I will add more under a wider range of relevant categories when I get time. If you do buy through the shop it generates a small commission, although I don’t think you need to worry that either the money will go to my head, or I will add it to my $2.30 from AdSense and jet off around the world polluting the environment.
One month ago I decided to tap into the Google AdSense millions, hoping that the blog would eventually pay for its self. I found the estimated 50cents per 1,000 page views close to the reality, with my first month total reaching a total of $2.30. This about half the amount I need to pay for my hosting package. I therefore need to either double my page views or double the number of adclicks (whilst I could also start blogging on subjects that pay more, I wouldn’t particularly want to).
The breakdown for the last month (according to AdSense):
Page impressions – 2,600
Clicks – 5 (paying 5 cents, 68 cents, 35 cents, 16 cents, and most recently $1.04!!!)
(The extra couple of cents have come through ads that pay a tiny amount per impression rather than click.)
What is most noticeable is how few ads have been clicked, or more positively, how few clicks are actually needed for the blog to pay for itself. The easy solution to getting more clicks is to put more adverts on the pages, or put them in a more prominent position, however, they can quickly become intrusive; personally I think my box in the sidebar has the balance just right. The more difficult solution is to increase my overall traffic whilst keeping the same adverts. Hopefully a steady increase clicks will come naturally with a steady increase in traffic, although not necessarily: yesterday probably saw the greatest number of visitors yet to Webometric Thoughts (absolute unique visitors still unknown), but no-one clicked.
I would think that if the traffic continues to grow at this rate, and people click on ads at the same rate, by the time of my one year anniversary Webometric Thoughts will be paying for itself. Not earth-shattering, but quietly impressive nonetheless.
UPDATE: This is reflection on my AdSense income rather than a request to click. Google has a number of detailed algorithms to make sure people don’t get click-happy on their own sites, and a sudden increase in clicks does not result in an increase in income:
-5 clicks in last month $2.30.
-3 clicks today $0.00
Whilst checking that the previous blog entry had loaded properly, I noticed something new about the Google Ads (that no-one clicks on):
Two little arrows that allow visitors to browse through the Google Ads relevant to my site. At the time of posting this allows for users to see 11 relevant ads, rather than the restricted two that the size of the box would allow. Will this suddenly increase ad revenue? Will people ever browse through?
What really annoys me is that I have no idea if this is totally new, new to my site, or something I have just never noticed before.
A four point manifesto was published on Read Write Web yesterday about how to avoid a Google media monoculture. The manifesto is aimed squarely at the advertising side of the Google behemoth. In truth we are in need of a far wider ranging manifesto, even those who dislike the extent of Google’s power find it creeping into their lives.
My own (daily) Google shame includes:
-Google Search Engine (approximately 50% of my searches)
Google infects my online life due to a combination of habit, ease, and lack of alternatives. Whilst I can try to wean myself off of search, I have no idea how easy it would be to change the blogging software (without losing everything), whilst once you have started one analytics program you are loathed to change to another which calculates the numbers differently. At least I can hold my head up when emailing (Hotmail), reading my RSS feeds (Newsgator), reading the news (BBC), or doing a bit of social networking (anything but Orkut).
Regarding the 4-point manifesto, in addition to wishing for a wider ranging manifesto there is one point I do disagree with: a push towards cost per action (CPA). Whilst I understand that steps are necessary in preventing people clicking on their own links purely for the ad-revenue, CPA would tip the balance too far in the advertisers favour. Why should I have ads on my site that earn nothing because the advertisers product isn’t wanted on closer inspection? It also doesn’t bear thinking about how long I would have to wait for someone to not only click on one of the ads, but to actually do something on the advertiser’s site. After almost three weeks of Google ads, and 1,438 page impressions, I have only had 2 ads clicked on!
In the early days of my blog I decided to not bother with adverts; after all, it seemed highly unlikely that I would generate enough traffic to earn the Google Adsense minimum. However, as I have been blogging I have found that the visitor numbers have steadily increased, and if they continue in the right direction I have hopes of eventually getting the blog to pay for itself!
My hosting package is costing me £56.37 for two years. According to the article I read when I made my original decision, a rough rule of thumb is that 1,000 impressions will make 50 cents. February saw my webometrics blog gain 2,160 impressions…so that would equate to just over a dollar. Whilst the numbers probably aren’t quite there yet, it’s worth a try if the numbers keep improving.
Admittedly I hope the standard of the ads improves. The first ads are for www.postersonwheels.co.uk and www.bee-moved.co.uk. If anyone visiting my site clicked on one of those I would be extremely suprised.
Nb. I still think the ads look tacky, but I have tried to place mine in a fairly unobtrusive place.