I’ve got to admit I’ve never been too impressed with AdSense for Search. I just haven’t seen great results with it. In fact I’ve always considered it the stocking-filler of AdSense’s goodies: nice to get but nothing like as much fun as the main package.
But maybe I’ve been underestimating it. After all, the results page is a great example of AdSense optimization. You get hit with a perfectly blended, giant ad unit right above the fold (I wish they’d make that unit available for websites!), good content and a second giant unit at the bottom of the page. I’m pretty sure those pages have been delivering good CTR… once people get there.
And that’s always been the problem with Search. Very few people use it. And that’s fine. I get paid every time someone clicks on an ad. I only might get paid when someone does a search, and I’ve got no control over what they’re searching for. I’d much rather people click on my ads than search and leave without giving me any money.
But I get a lot of site targeted ads that pay by CPM. On those pages, I don’t care whether the users click ads or not. In fact, I don’t want them to click. I want them to generate lots of page views… and then I want them to search and leave.
If you’ve got a site that’s getting a lot of CPM ads then, I think it’s worth making that search option nice and prominent. You could put it in the side bar sandwiched between a list of related links and surrounded by eye-catching color. You could write in big letters next to it “Want to learn more about [the topic of your website]?” and put a good, high-paying keyword there to increase the chances that they’ll look for the sort of subjects that give good ads. And you could keep your content short to make sure that your readers aren’t saturated with information and leave your site hungry to find out more.
Of course, you’d also need to keep an eye on your ads so that you know when you’re back to earning per click so that you can put the emphasis back on your ads, and away from the Search.
Although if you find then that your new, prominent stocking filler is giving your site greater value, then I guess you can say that Christmas came early this year.