Darren tries AdSense

I've resisted for many months, but after a conversation with Boris yesterday, I'm going to try out this Google AdSense bollocks. While a little extra cash is always nice, I'm interested in its application as a micro-payment system for content publishers like myself. Who knows, it might only net me 8 cents a month. Darren Barefoot: I'm Shillin' for the Man

I actually also started out Google AdSense as "an experiment". It turned out to be a bit addictive (look! people are visiting…and they're clicking, too!). And then it turned into some decent money. Why? Well, because of search engines. Let me explain…

People that use a search engine are looking for something. If you have a high search ranking (i.e. appear as one of the top 10 results for something), then people are likely to click through and land on your site, ideally directly at a page that is about what they were searching for.

What you have on that page may or may not be the exact thing they were looking for, but it will certainly be related. In the same way, Google's AdSense ads then display "relevant" ads -- ads that are related to what they were searching for. About 1% - 2% of visitors will a) find these ads relevant and b) click on one of them.

So, the more keywords or search terms that you rank highly for, the more people will come to your site. The more people, the more clicks, and the more money.

This means it is in your best interest to make your site as search engine friendly as possible. Ideally, you are using a content management system, and you can tweak the underlying engine to do all the hard stuff for you. I have some info in my Search Engine Voodoo section.

Now some more feedback on other items that Darren asks about.

I note with some irony that the current ads are mostly for technical writing services. Ah well, I'm always happy to give the competitors a little help. AdSense veterans can correct me here, but it looks like Google only serves one set of ads for the whole site

Nope. AdSense is specific to every page that it appears on. If it has yet to index that page, it will display some sort of charity ads. If it has indexed that page, but there is no strong "keyword content", for want of a better phrase, it will serve up ads that are relevant to other, more highly ranked material on the same page. Since your name and other site-related information appears on every page, it would display ads related to that.

Since you write technical documentation, that seems to make sense. You can also choose to block ads from competitors. This is done on the URL filter page of your settings.

In looking at your pages again, I noticed something that I didn't point out when we met -- your pages (including for individual posts) all have the same title! Think of the title of your page as one step above an <h1> tag. It's usually easiest to just make the title of your page be the title of your post, followed by the name of your site. Specifically in that order, and this is a usability issue for bookmarking as well: imagine people with 10 bookmarks, all titled "Darren Barefoot - …".

You mentioned you were doing a site re-design, so just something else to keep in mind.

I hope some of this info is useful, and good luck!