Are your Google ads on Squidoo wildly inappropriate? Well, that sucks.
It would be worse on your own website, where clickthroughs directly impact earnings. On Squidoo, poorly-targeted ads don’t impact you quite so directly, since you’re not getting paid for individual clicks. (Otherwise people might game the system.) Instead, all Adsense revenue for Squidoo lenses gets put in the monthly Ad Pool — which also includes other advertising — and then distributed to the 85,000 top performing lenses via payout tiers.
However, there are three reasons poorly-targeted ads on Squidoo still matter to Jane Q. Lensmaster.
- Highly inappropriate ads may turn off readers. “I’m an abuse survivor looking for tips on how to escape a stalking ex, and the ads are for people who want to hire private detectives to snoop on their spouses. UGH!”
- Clickouts. You want clickouts, don’t you?
- Indirectly, of course, we all benefit from more effectively targeted ads.
So, er, how does Google pick the ads for Adsense anyway? Well, as usual, I was tinkering around under the hood of a Squidoo lens, and I think I may have found the answer:
<!-- adsense setup -->
[... blah blah blah ...]
GA_googleAddAttr("cont_tag", "computer history,brief history of the internet,cern,computer history,history of web,internet history,internet map,internet timeline,tim bernerslee,web,who invented the internet,who invented the web,world wide web,www");
[... blah blah blah ...]
</script><!-- /adsense setup -->
See that “cont_tag” stuff? That’s the Squidoo tags for that lens. Assuming I’m understanding the code correctly, Google is using Squidoo tags to help it pick the ads on the page, as opposed to simply analyzing the page and deciding for itself what your page is about, as it does for search. (Alternatively, Adsense may be analyzing the text on your page and combining that data with what your keywords are to pick its ads.)
If you were really trying to maximize every click, you might want to poke around in Google’s Keywords Tool to find strong related keywords that advertisers are bidding for (that’s the competition) and that lots of people are searching for. That tool is what many of us use for SEO, but was actually designed to help you find and choose keywords for Google Adsense.
However, we’ve got other stuff to worry about besides optimizing our pages for Google ads. So it’s not worth your time to do it on Squidoo… unless you’re getting wildly inappropriate Adsense ads. In that case, it might be worth trying Google’s keywords tool to find alternative keyword phrases whose related searches seem to be more in line with what your page is about.
Unfortunately, not all ads on Squidoo lenses are Adsense: a significant number are Chitika, and they’re the ones that tend to be off-base. I see a bit of code that may imply the keyword tags are used by Chitika. But on the other hand, Chitika ads are often based on what people have searched to find your page, or on local advertisers in your reader’s neck of the woods. So the Chitika advertising on a Squidoo lens may not have much to do with your topic, but at least, hopefully, they have something to do with your reader.
Since the dawn of the web, I’ve learned most of what I know about HTML, CSS, and webpage design by checking under the hood with “View Source” (or, alternatively, through my shareware web page editor…MacOSX only, sorry) found under the “view” menu of most web browsers. I’ve discovered a lot of things about Squidoo this way. I don’t understand everything I see, but it’s fun detective work.