The Google AdSense Scorecard – Why I’m Ignoring Parts of It

1 July

No doubt you’ve noticed the scorecard that appears in your Performance reports for AdSense.

In a nutshell, this image gives you an idea of how your site is doing health-wise (page speed, crawl errors) and reveals if you are maximizing your earning potential.

Beside each category you will see a rating…

scorecard key

Here’s mine…

google adsense scorecard

Notice I scored very low in revenue optimization. Here are some of the factors that impact this statistic.

Recommended Ad Formats

In general, certain ads perform better (typically the larger ones).  So Google, of course, is going to encourage you to use the higher performing units.

But you still have to test what works best for YOUR website and goals.

The larger units may not fit or clutter up certain design layouts, so it doesn’t always make sense to use them.

For example, Google keeps trying to get me to use the 300×250 unit for certain sites instead of the 250×250 unit, but it won’t fit with my layout on all sites.

Something like this will negatively impact my scorecard because I’m ignoring their recommendations.

Text and Image Ads

When you create a new unit, Google recommends you always select text and image ads to give yourself a chance to display as many different kinds of ads as possible.

Once again, know what makes sense for your site.

One time I was using text and image ads for a 728×90 unit.  After doing some testing, the “image only” unit performed way better than the text and image unit.  So for that particular site and unit, I set it to “Image Only.”

Again, this will negatively affect my Scorecard.

Crawler Errors

If you’ve ever received a crawl error in your account, it means that the Google spider is having trouble reading some of your content.

This is important because the crawler helps Google serve up relevant ads.

Number of Units Per Page

This stat is not listed under the Revenue Optimization section, and here’s why I think it was omitted.

If you don’t use the maximum number of units, you could be limiting your earnings, right?

Notice I said could.

At first, it may be logical to think that more is better.

But what if having more units drops your overall site click through rate (CTR) and minimizes your chances of landing Placement advertisers (the people who want to advertise on your site directly.)

For the record, these ads will typically earn you more than the Contextual ads.

Advertisers often look for high-converting pages, units, etc.  So let’s say because you have too many units on a page, your overall site CTR goes down.  That could actually impact how many placement advertisers target your site.

So maybe that’s why “Number of Units Per Page” is not considered a factor in Revenue Optimization.  More is not always better.

I hardly ever put 3 units on my pages. In fact, I don’t know if I have any pages with three units anymore.

Most of my pages have 1-2 units and I purposely spread them out to keep my sites from looking cluttered.

I prefer to be heavy on the content and lighter on the ads.

Even Google warns that 3 units is not always best.  Here’s a quote from their Best Practices page

Less can be more

While our policies allow you to place 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 2 search boxes on each page of your site, placing the maximum number of ads on your page may make it look cluttered. If users can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they may turn elsewhere for information.

Also remember Google has been known to roll out algorithms that penalize sites with too many ads on a page.  I think it’s good they didn’t include this stat in the optimization report.

Google Plus?

Did anyone else chuckle at this?  Of course, Google Plus has to be a part of everything Google does. Having said that, who could blame them?  It is their product, so of course they are going to promote it any way they can.

This stat may not have much to do with your account or earnings, but from a marketing perspective, it’s somewhat clever.

I can imagine many non-Google Plus users scurrying to add those Google Plus buttons on their pages in search of that “perfect” scorecard, and secretly hoping it may have some positive impact on their earnings.

Smart, Google. :)

Changes to The Scorecard

Once you make the recommended changes, your scores will improve and the positive impact will be indicated by a green arrow.

On the flip side, if certain stats get worse, that change will be reflected by a red arrow…

scorecard changes

What Do You Think?

At the end of the day, Google wants to maximize their revenue, so of course, they are going to provide you with tips that will hopefully increase their bottom line.

Just remember, a lot of Google’s recommendations are based on global stats.  What is good for them may not always align with your goals.

For example, if your only monetization method is AdSense and you are trying to maximize your earnings to the fullest, you might take more of their suggestions.

But if you have a more diversified approach like me, AdSense is probably not your only priority.

I think the Scorecard provides a nice overview of what’s going on with your account, but I can’t say it’s caused me to change much.

Now, if you scored low in page speed, crawl errors, etc. of course you’ll want to address those issues because that could limit some ads from showing and impact your revenue in a negative way.

However, as I’ve already explained, there may be good reasons why you ignore certain ratings.

Bottom line…

Do what’s best for YOUR site.

What do you think of the Scorecard?