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  • Sunday, December 24, 2006

    If you are experienced in the Adsense arena, then you know that Google has now developed a new way to decide how much you earn through your Adsense ads with their new Smart Pricing formula. What is the formula? No one knows exactly. There is a theory though…

    It involves their formula for the alogorithm that determines if the visitor who clicked on one of your ads is a good customer for the advertiser. This means the “clicker” should be interested in the product advertised and make a purchase from the advertiser. How does Google get this information? They don’t actually.

    Avertisers who work with Google through Adwords are not required to share their conversion rates from click-to-purchase. Some advertisers do share this information since Google has a way for them to share it, while most advertisers don’t share this info. If the advertisers don’t share this information, then how does Google decide how clickers are converting to sales? Hmmmm… they must have to guess, (or use one of their famous formulas).

    The new Smart Pricing equation being thrown into the Adsense income mix has a lot of web site owners upset. They have seen their sales drop dramatically even though they are showing the same amount of ads with the same amount of monthly clicks on average. Google won’t share what they are doing because then people can “beat the system” and cost Google and their advertisers money that is not actually earned through honest site optimization.

    What can you do to help your site with this new change? Well one of the things that Google does is decide if the ad showing is in “theme” with the page it sits on. Your site should contain a consistant theme throughout. You can still use related keyword optimized pages AS LONG AS your site is also related to the same subject.

    If you are going to do tracking, then only change ONE thing at a time. You should monitor the change and it’s results. If the change brings you a larger income, then stick with it. IF it doesn’t then change it back and change a different element. Then monitor those results. Keep doing this until you have your own perfect formula for surviving the Smart Pricing alogorithm.

    Having too many different subjects on your web site can actually get your clicks penalized and you will be paid less. It’s wise to have different web sites that focus on each individual subject with different related keyword optimized pages. The more you “niche” your site the better. A niched site relating to one major theme will get you a higher payout on your Adsense income.

    What part of this new Smart Pricing is unfair to publishers? My own theory is crummy landing pages. If you have an ad show up and your visitor clicks on that ad and then get sent to a crummy landing page and leaves. You have just been penalized because the customer did “not” convert to a sale and it’s not your fault.

    The other down side is Adword advertisers who are buying keywords not even related to what their web site sells. This is another lost customer who didn’t convert to a sale and you might be penalized instead of the advertiser who actually gets money back from Google because of their low conversion rates.

    Whether you like it or not, and even if it’s not the “smartest” of Google’s new changes, it’s already in place and you are already a participant if you serve up Google Adsense ads. It seems that the ones paying Google, (the advertisers), are going to have a little more say than the publishers naturally. If they are complaining about click fraud or bad conversion rates, then their voices combined are what makes Google change.

    Since Google likes to make money, I am sure they have several bean counters going all the time to find out if the changes have hurt their bottom line, or helped it. We can probably expect these changes often. Google promises that it tries to make you the most money as an advertiser because then they make more money.

    I do know this….

    In April 2005 I was making over $3,000 a month with Google Adsense. In March 2006, I am making around $750 a month with Google Adsense yet my traffic has increased since last year. If I am making less, then Google is making less from me. I have a high traffic web site and yet my Adsense earnings have plummeted.

    How do you fix the problem when you are not privy to the conversion rates for the ads showing on your site? How do you know which are the bummer ads compared to high converting ads. With this knowledge you COULD apply Google filters weeding out the bad advertisers who have a problem converting sales once their visitor has landed.

    The only thing we can really depend on is that Smart Pricing is fairly new and maybe Google will get it all ironed out in the end. Did I say “end”. Google never ends, it just keeps on going and going and going….

    posted by prethi at 8:43 PM | 13 comments

    What Is AdSense Clickbot (a.k.a Automated AdSense Clicker)?

    Note: I do not condone or encourage cheating on Google AdSense or any advertiser network. This article is indeed written to show why you should NOT use clickbot. If you want to increase your earning, there are legal and easier ways.

    Apparently, for some reason, it is not easy to find information about clickbots from the Internet. I need to dig a bit into Google cache to get some decent information. At the time I’m writing this, even Wikipedia does not have an entry specially for “clickbot” yet. The nearest term from Wikipedia is “Internet Bot”.

    A bot is common parlance on the Internet for a software program that is a software agent. A Bot interacts with other network services intended for people as if it were a real person. One typical use of bots is to gather information. The term is derived from the word “robot,” reflecting the autonomous character in the “virtual robot”-ness of the concept.

    Put simply, clickbot is a specialized bot made to simulate clicking. Initially popular for gaming cheat, now clickbot has taken the highlight in pay-per-click advertisement business. In 2004, a California man created a clickbot that he claimed cannot be detected by Google. Failed to make good money selling the program, he tried to blackmail Google for $150,000 to hand over the program. He was arrested, nonetheless.

    For computer savvy users, creating a clickbot is very simple and straight forward. You just need a macro to record your activities. While the macro is recoding, you visit your own site and click on the ads. Save the macro, and then let it run. Of course, you will also need a list of proxies to cover your track.

    Fortunately for advertisers and honest publishers, Google is not stupid. With the huge amount of data that it has, Google can easily compile the most comprehensive proxy list on earth. In the AdSense report, clicks from proxies will add up to the number of clicks, but no money is credited to the earning. As you guess, when the proxy clicks exceed a certain number, your AdSense account is disabled

    Organised crimes handle this by having the clickbot software on many computers around the world, each with their own Internet Service Provider. Some of these software may be installed without the computer owners’ permissions or knowledge, via trojans and viruses. Or it might be installed voluntarily by the click-network members.

    Beginning of this year, Greg Boser from WebGuerilla did an experiment to test the extent of click-fraud by using clickbot, with no conclusive answer. Some experts claims that click fraud accounts for up to 20% of the clicks, generating more than $1 billion in a year.

    Whether or not the estimation is correct, one thing is sure. Google, Yahoo and other big players in the PPC advertising business takes click-fraud very seriously, and it will be just a matter of time when fraudsters are caught.

    posted by prethi at 8:40 PM | 15 comments

    It is bound to happen one day. As click-fraud issues mounting up, AdSense is moving towards affiliate marketing style, introducing cost-per-action ads.

    David Jackson of SeekingAlpha reports that Google is inviting a selected group of AdSense webmasters to test out the new �Cost-Per-Action� (CPA) ads. Quoting reprint of Google�s mail:

    How do I get paid?

    You get paid whenever a site visitor clicks on the ad on your site AND performs a specified action, such as generating a lead or purchasing a product.

    And unlike traditional ads, webmasters are allowed to choose what products to display and to actively promote it.

    How can I promote the CPA ad unit?
    Since this is a test and these CPA ads are not regular ad units, we are giving you more flexibility in saying things like �I recommend this product� or �Try JetBlue today� next to the CPA ad unit. However, you should still not incite someone to click on the ad, so saying �Click Here� is not ok.

    Currently, AdSense offer pay-per-click (CPC) ads and pay-per-view(CPM) ads to the publishers, both with their own problem. CPC ads pay publishers when some one clicks on the ads. This has been long pointed out as a major problem as it creates incentive for click-fraud.

    CPM ads does not fare much better than CPC ads. Hidden ads that no one click on, automatically generated page views, and sneaky redirects are just some problems that plague the system.

    Pay-per-action ads - it seems - is the perfect solutions. Publishers get paid only when someone clicks on the ads and take some action (like buying a product) from the advertisers’ site. It will be much, much harder for publishers to abuse the system, as whatever is paid to them is less than what the advertiser makes from the sale. From advertisers’ view, it will be much easier to calculate the ROI, as they pay only for sales made.

    posted by prethi at 8:27 PM | 1 comments

    Webmasters are trying to predict and exploit website user behavior in order to get the maximum out of Google Adsense.

    If web surfers behaved all alike, if there were strict patterns in users’ behaviour, wouldn’t all publishers be on a sunny beach right now, with a fancy-colored cocktail, worring not about AdSense optimization matters?

    Web user’s behaviour depends on two main groups of variables: the user-related one and the website-related one.

    A) User-related Behavior Variables
    Though people react very differently at various stimuli, we can identify some peculiarities specific to web surfers. The behaviour is much like yours. Have you considered watching your own actions while surfing on the web? This might help if you want to improve your site’s appeal to readers, especially if you sell something or if you want your visitors to click on your ads.

    Several groups of variables that influence users’ behaviour can be identified:

    • Components of the mental processes involved while searching and browsing on the Internet: attention, awareness, language, mental imagery etc.
    • The behavior of websurfers is influenced also by their subjective approach to matters, determined by temperamental characteristics, such as mood, patience and their purpose and degree of interest.
    • Also, users act differently varying with how used they are to web surfing.
      Let’s see how we can tweak our websites to turn these to our advantage (and turn visitors into �clickers�):

    1. Mental processes
    Attention - The web designer keeps the tools to direct readers’ attention. A simple design, without unnecessary loading will prevent the reader from being distracted by unimportant elements. The ads placement must be done strategically, in a place impossible to overlook (recommended in the first paragraph, usually in the upper-left area). Pictures and graphics are considered attention-grabbers and will also be considered when choosing your ads’ placement.

    Awareness - This is a very debated topic. Opinions differ on readers’ ads awareness. Some sustain that the more blended into content, the better, others say that this formatting will induce the readers the feeling of being �tricked� into clicking on ads, which they resent. I incline to say that blend-in ads work only for very well targeted ads, coming naturally as if belonging to the content. Positioning ads outside the content area would be effective mostly with advertising that builds brand awareness, based on image impressions.

    Mental Imagery - Again, a pleasant, uncluttered design, a balanced look of the page contribute to a positive perception of the page from the part of the reader and to a more open state of mind. A professional layout is important. It inspires confidence, people don’t want to purchase from a just any backyard business.

    2. Subjectiveness
    Patience - A golden rule: don’t abuse your readers’ patience (for they usually don’t have one)! Web pages must load quickly, ads must not be placed in readers’ way and should be kept to a reasonable number.

    Purpose and Mood - Are more related to the topic of your site and the type of content you publish. The idea is that users’ purpose and mood can be influenced by copy.

    Degree of Interest - Besides relevant, good content, that answers questions, the reader’s interest is influenced by involvement and interaction. Keep your reader involved, integrate your ads into an interaction environment: these will work wonders on your CTR.

    3. User’s Degree of Acquaintace with Web Surfing
    Net savvy users have developed certain immunities, such as ad-blindness. These are less likely to click on any ads. Customizing ads for this type of readers means harder work; the result must be ads of high relevance (and remarkable ad texts!), with an aspect as close to the rest of the page as possible, as if they were a natural continuation of your ideas. Important! avoid default formats.

    B) Site-related Variables
    The type of the site and the topic attract visitors with different interests with different behavioral patterns.

    1. Site Type � Readers vs Browsers
    Whether the visitor is a �reader� or a �scanner/browser� depends also on the site type � content and topic. Generally, readers are regular visitors while �scanners� are the ones who look for information and will not spend too much time on the same site. Site topic and content are most times factors in bringing more �uniques� or more regular visitors. Though not as a rule, these apply to many sites:

    Sites Attracting Unique Visitors - These are mostly commercial sites, content sites. Statistics say that unique visitors are more likely to be your clickers, for regular readers are more used to your pages’ look and your ads. Contextual advertising works well with these sites. If you’re headed for unique visitors, make your site �SE-friendly�. They come mostly from search engines and are said to be �pre-qualified� clickers. So, your efforts should be directed towards keywords and keyword phrases optimization. The ideal would be to go beyond the technicalities, that is finding out what are the most searched for keywords in your area of preoccupations and try to find out why these are popular, try to find a behavioral pattern. This can be achieved by statistics and analysis. Find out some niches in your area and the users’ behaviour within them � that is, lists of searches and then see what is it customers want. This will solve your puzzle and give you exact hints towards what works best for your site. Keep in mind: unique visitors are mostly “browsers”. Use ad placement and ad customization techniques that apply best for this type of users.

    Sites with Regular Visitors - These are mostly forums, blogs and news sections (though news are somewhere in between). If you own sites with many bookmarks, that attract especially repeat visitors, then either you will be very imaginative in customizing your ads and finding new ways to interest your readers into clicking or if not the case, better use CPM based advertising. Brand bulding/reinforcement advertising works better in this case.

    2. Site Theme Relates to Visitor’s Mood and Purpose
    Commercial Sites - Sites selling and promoting products are more suitable for CPC advertising. By their specific, this type of site will attract visitors looking for a specific product/service/business opportunity. Thus, users are more in a buying mood, are looking for a way to spend their money profitably. These are clickers.

    Content Sites, Blogs, Forums - Unless you market specific products, your readers will land on your page without the express purpose of buying something. However, you can influence your reader’s mood and needs thru witty, sales-directed copywriting. You just need to know some basic things that sell. One is that people are more likely to buy from persons they know, like and trust.

    So, what will help you build these? Good content and structure. Especially with content sites, these are fundamental issues to focus on (unlike commercial sites that focus more on products).Good content, profesionally written and formatted for the web, containing information that is of high interest and relevance for the reader, within an easily manageable structure and good targeting on a specific theme are imperatives. On one hand these mean bulding confidence, the first step in selling. On the other hand they will attract well-targeted ads, more likely to interest your reader.

    Great content will give you credit to your reader. Once you’ve gained trust, it’s easy to direct your readers: you just give recommendations and the results will appear. (Avoid being too explicit in recommendations, though � for example, directing readers towards clicking on ads is against AdSense� Program Policies.)

    With blogs and forums, it is a different story. Not all forums and blogs are accepted for AdSense� (or even if accepted, they must be also profitable). Only genuine, specifically-themed blogs and forums, with highly interesting content are suitable. These conditions being fulfilled, forums and blogs are perfect as a source of advertising money � they have what is very difficult for others to achieve: reader’s trustHealth Fitness Articles, liking and involvement.

    posted by prethi at 8:13 PM | 0 comments

    Still thinking to cheat AdSense? Stop that. It will never bring you anywhere. You might pull it off with smaller ads network, but definitely not with Google. Here are some detection methods they might use. At the very least, they have the resources to do so.

    IP Address
    If the AdSense click is originated from the same IP Address as the one used for accessing your AdSense account, your account is flagged.

    Most home users do not use static IP Address for Internet connection. In most cases just disconnect and reconnect will give you a new IP Address. But don’t forget, Google has set cookies on your computer.

    Other Google Services
    Thinking that you are safe just because you do not access your AdSense account? Think again. This time, consider these: GMail, Google Earth, Google Calendar, Google Search, Google Toolbar, Google Talk, Google Sitemap, Google Desktop, Blogger, and so on, and so on. With the wide range of services they provide, Google can trace the originator of most (or probably almost all) clicks.

    Click Pattern 1
    Oh, why this computer / IP address / person is so trigger-click-happy on this particular website but never click on the ads on other sites?

    Click Pattern 2
    And why is it that people accessing these sites direct (type-in URL or from bookmark) tend to be very active ad-clickers compared with those referred from search engine or other sites?

    Click Pattern 3
    And why the ad-clickers like to hit and run, compared with non ad-clickers that surf a few pages before leaving?

    Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
    Your CTR may range from 0.5% to 10%, but if it exceeds a certain point (probably around 10%), you are flagged.

    Used Urchin (Google Analytics) before? Then you should know that Google can trace traffics origin down to the small town. Different IP doesn’t mean much. Unless you site is really targetted to one small geo-point, a high number of clicks from nearby location will get you banned quickly.

    Hardware address?
    MAC address of the LAN card, modem, and router works almost like a fingerprint. I’m not sure if Google can track this, but probably they do. They have rocket scientist, remember?

    Advertisers conversion rate
    Ad click is one thing. But does it bring value to the advertisers? If none of the clicks on your site translate to conversion to the advertiser, you are in trouble. First the Smart-Pricing hits, then your AdSense account disabled.

    Search Engine Ranking
    Your website is not indexed on any search engine, not linked by any prominent website, but get consistently high traffic? That sounds like something is in play. Regardless of whether it is an adware-embedded software, spam, trojan clickbot, or intentionally installed click-exchange network, it doesn’t sound right.

    Webpage design
    How about the “click here” or “support us”? Google has the best search engine in the world. Is it really that hard to find those words?

    Each of these detection methods might seem rather weak. But combine them together, and not many click-fraud can pass-through these filters. Even the smartest clickbot will have a hard time.

    In short, it is almost impossible to cheat AdSense in the long term. Instead of spending time, money, and effort trying to outsmart Google, try these tips to improve your AdSense earning.

    Disclaimer : I’m not working for Google nor in anyway know anyone inside Google. Google might or might not use these methods to detect click-fraud. I’d believe that they have much better detection mechanism.

    posted by prethi at 8:11 PM | 5 comments

    If you applied for AdSense account with intention to cheat and earn fast bucks, I hope by now you have understood that you shouldn’t.

    Why? You say. Google is so rich, losing some pennies won’t hurt.

    Well. Probably. But when I say you shouldn’t, trust me. You really shouldn’t. These are just some reasons:

    1. You can’t cheat Google

    Every once in while, someone will comes out with ingenious idea of how to get more money from AdSense in less than honorable ways. He will announce to the whole world, posting in every forum and tell people how smart he is. His idea is always untraceable by Google, it is always original, and it always gives easy money.

    What he doesn’t know is, few months after that, he will get caught by Google, always. And his AdSense account will be disabled. Always. And he is banned from ever applying for AdSense account again. Always.

    Google is a giant, with 2005 revenue of almost US$ 10 billions, and profits of more than US$ 1 billion. A large chunk of this comes from Adwords / AdSense advertisements.

    More click fraud means less trust, less advertisers and less money, to the extent that if unsolved it will bring collapse to pay-per-click advertisement business. Now. Do you think Google will let you jeopardize their billion dollar business model?

    They have money and ability to bring together many of the the smartest and brightest engineers and scientists on earth, has been doing that and will continue to do so. How smart do you think you are that you can outsmart collaborative effort of the brightest brains?

    You might be able to pull through for two or three months, but eventually the fraud detection algorithm will catch up and you are caught. And you get banned from Google AdSense, among other things.

    2. Cheating = stealing

    No matter how you want to justify, face it, cheating is stealing. You are not only stealing from Google, but also from Adwords publishers. Majority of these are are not big companies, but small webmasters depending on Internet to make a living.

    Moreover, even if your morality (or lack thereof) permits stealing from your own fellow, bear in mind that stealing is illegal. Regardless of whether it is done offline or online, a crime is a crime. You might get jailed for that.

    In fact, Google has started to bring AdSense fraudsters to court a few months ago. Some were jailed, and some others were fined heavily.

    3. It is just too easy to earn more, legally

    Let’s say you managed to cheat AdSense undetected. You don’t use clickbot or proxy or click-ring or paid clickers. You managed to somehow get the clicks from distributed IP. You don’t use pop-ups, spyware, adware. You are careful that your CTR does not exceed 10%. Still, your earning is limited. There is a cap you can’t cross, else you will invite unwanted attention to your account.

    With so much effort to cover your traces, actually you will get better result if you concentrate your effort to improve the website.

    Write more contents, submit articles, improve on your search engine optimisation, improve adsense placement, and you can get the same earning or even more. Sure it will take some time, but this is legitimate.

    posted by prethi at 8:09 PM | 0 comments

    Face it. You come to this article probably thinking to find some ways to cheat Google, or to confirm whether some method you have on mind will work. Well, if you want to know how to cheat AdSense, here are the ways, focusing on the AdSense click-frauds. These covers from basic AdSense cheating techniques to the advanced class.

    But before you proceed, you might need to know why you shouldn’t cheat Google (answer: you will get caught).

    1. Basic clicker cheat

      This is a noob. This guy knows almost nothing about web technology or network architecture. He clicks on his ads every time he has chance. It can be a few clicks to hundreds of clicks daily. Most likely he doesn’t even read the AdSense Program Policies and Terms and Conditions.

    2. Proxy clicker cheat

      She knows a thing or two about cookies and IP address. Or she doesn’t know, but somehow guessed that if she use the things called anonymizer, Google will not be able to trace her, because her identity is hidden. She may use anonymizer / proxy websites or specialized anonymous software like tor (The Onion Router).

    3. Multiple computer clicker cheat

      He knows that somehow Google will detect if the clicks are originated from his own computer. So he will try to even out origin of the clicks. He will recruit his friends, family members, relatives, neighbors, his cats, and his dogs on single mission: to click on the ads. He will also click on the AdSense ads when he is using the library computers, or his office workstation.

    4. Software clicker cheat

      Graduate to the next step is buyers of clickbots / click-bots. These are specialized robot software to click on AdSense ads. It will browse around your websites, clicking on the ads every few minutes. The more advanced ones will cloak the IP address too, so the website seems to be very popular worldwide. To cover the track, this clickbots will browse around the advertisers sites too while continuing its “click quest”.

    5. Paid-clickers cheat

      If you don’t like automated things, there is always other option for you. Just pay $50 dollars a month to the professional AdSense clickers. These are groups of highly specialized Internet surfers with office in the dark rooms in street corners of India, Pakistan, and China, helping AdSense account owner to earn good amounts of money � before the AdSense account is disabled, that is. They will browse around your websites, clicking on the ads every few minutes. Because they use human eyes, they know which ads worth more. And to be more convincing they can click a link or two, or sign up free offers / newsletters on the advertiser sites.

    6. Click-rings cheat

      Network is power. So says many business gurus. Instead of taking things to their own hand, this people realize that they can join hands with those with similar goals and distribute AdSense clicks among themselves, the so called AdSense click-rings. Joining this click-ring network means that your website address will be made known to members, who will regularly browse the website and click on your AdSense ads. In exchange, you will also browse other members’ sites and click on their AdSense ads. The medium used varies. Some click-ring groups use mail-list for communications. Some are using bulletin boards/forum, Yahoo groups, or Usenet. IRC is another popular way. Slightly more complicated is specialized AdSense exchange software for collecting members website address and displaying others’ websites for clicking.

    7. Other medium cheat

      I have tens of thousands email address on my newsletter subscriber list. If I include AdSense ads on my newsletters, with 5% CTR, I can get a thousand clicks per one email. Not bad. Or I can pay someone to write some useful/nice/funny/cute toolbars or firefox extensions or screensavers that people can download and use for free, and display my AdSense ads there.

    8. Visitor cheat

      Simply putting “Visit out sponsors” or “Check out the ads above” on your website is cheating. This might not be very clear-cut cheat to some. But Google AdSense program policies has stated clearly, the only text allowed are “Advertisements” or “Sponsored List”

    9. Spam cheat

      This is the highest level all click-frauds, the Maestro of Fraudsters. She spams millions of emails regularly, offering to “satisfy your inner needs if you can help me check on the links on my website”. Of course, email is not the only way. What IRC and instant messaging (IM) are for, after all. She will look for unsuspecting victims, offering something too-good-to-be-true “if only they will visit the website and click on the links”.

    10. Click-through-rate cheat

      Whichever method(s) above used, there is one limiting condition: the CTR(click-though-rate). Any CTR that exceeds certain percentage (probably around 10%) will raise red flag in Google AdSense back room. To lower the CTR, the professional cheaters will create some pages on the same domain that attracts very high traffic. Some interesting freebies will sure do the tricks. AdSense code is pasted there, thus creating a very high page impressions. Whether or not the the ads are clicked does not matter anyway, because they are targeting low paying keyword that does not have much competition. The fake clicks are, of course, on where the big money is, the low traffic pages stuffed with high-paying keywords.

    Disclaimer: I don’t say and don’t think that these methods will work. If you even need to read this article, there’s 99.999% chance you will get caught before you can even get your first paycheck. Your AdSense account will be disabled, and you get banned from ever applying for AdSense account again.
    posted by prethi at 8:06 PM | 0 comments