Google Mobile Friendly?

What all AdSense Publishers need to know.

The past couple of years have seen an astounding upsurge in mobile page views. The growth of users who are accessing information with their smartphones or tablets, rather than using a traditional desktop, means that every site now needs to work on every device. Most website owners understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly site but may not have the time or ability to build one; Its now become an imperative. As of April 21st, 2015 Google will use mobile-friendliness as a major ranking factor in their search algorithm.

Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site is mobile-friendly.

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site is mobile-friendly.

How big of a deal is this?

Huge.  This is the first time in Google’s history that they have announced a specific update, in advance and set a date for its implementation.  You’ll have heard of Panda or Penguin?  Some people in the world of SEO are speculating that this algorithm update is to affect more search queries than Panda and Penguin combined.  So forget about the fluffy animals and take heed from Google: make sure your site is mobile-friendly – now!

Why is a mobile-friendly layout important?

Your users should be your number one priority.  If a user accesses your site on their phone and it isn’t mobile friendly, their experience will be sub-par.  They will have to pinch-and-zoom to be able to read the content, will get frustrated by not being able to see the content clearly, and may even accidentally click on ads while trying to see your site.

What does a mobile-friendly layout need?

After testing thousands of layouts and gathering many million data points, we’ve found that the most important characteristics of a mobile layout are the following:

  1. Readable content – users shouldn’t have to pinch and zoom to access the content. It should be easily readable as-is.
  2. Navigation – the user should be able to get to almost anywhere on the site via a drop-down or expanding menu that expand further to access sub menus. The links should be “thumb-friendly” to ensure users get to the content they’re looking for without accidental clicks.
  3. Search boxes – The user should be able to search your site for the information they are looking for and find a search box easily.
  4. Site speed – the site should load quickly regardless of the device they are using. Use methods like lazy-loading and sub domain sharding to ensure the user gets the content quickly and easily.
  5. Properly sized ads – make sure the ads fit to the screen properly (and don’t bleed off the page etc)

Common mistakes:

Google developers offer some guidance on common mistakes here.

What if my site’s traffic is majority desktop?  

It doesn’t matter. You still need a mobile-friendly layout from April 21st!  Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly may be punished in the search rankings.  Don’t let that be you!  Also, having a mobile-friendly site could win you more traffic, and everyone loves that!


Certified Google AdSense partner Ezoic



Ezoic site owners get mobile and tablet enabled layouts for free when using the Ezoic platform.  For more information, email or visit

End of December / Early January Advertising Market

Earlier this year I wrote about “The Ups & Downs of Online Advertising” which dived into the changes in advertiser behavior that occur during the various seasons as well as brand marketing budgets and their quarterly cycle.  In this post, I wanted to examine the changes that occur in December and January in a little more detail with the hope of helping bring some sense to the volatility of your website’s revenue during this time of year.

In much of the world, and in the United States in particular, there is a major increase in retail, travel and food purchases from mid-November to mid-December.  The result of this increase for website publishers is that the “bids”, or amount that advertisers are willing to pay to show their ads, increases as they try to win more customers during this lucrative time. This, in turn, increases the amount that you get paid for your website’s advertising inventory.  However, once Christmas passes, things turn the other direction.

Starting in mid-December, usually 4 or 5 business days before Chirstmas when order processing, shipping and receiving becomes difficult for most online retailers, we see competition in the online ad marketplace decline – but there still tends to be one group of advertisers holding rates up – brand advertisers.

As described in my previous post on the subject, brand advertisers tend to allocate their advertising budgets on a quarterly basis – and the last quarter of the year ends on December 31st. Brand advertisers will typically require a certain number of ads to be shown (impressions) during each quarter as part of their contracts.  Due to the increased rates and competition, many brand campaigns have under-delivered in November and early December and are slightly behind delivering their campaigns for the quarter.  However, with the lowered bids in the last half of December from retail advertisers, brand advertisers will purchase a lot of impressions to catch up.  This will hold rates for your website’s advertising up a little.  However, on January 1st, this all ends and its takes longer to recover than you may think.  Here is why…

As discussed, brand advertisers allocate their budgets quarterly.  This allocation process tends to be a fairly manual process, with contracts negotiated and renewed each quarter and then a process of the advertiser creating and distributing ads (“creatives”) and targets to ad agencies and networks and those agencies and networks setting them up (“trafficking”).  Since many employees of both the brand advertisers and ad agencies are out of the office, this process tends to take, based on our own data, nearly 12 business days!  What does this mean for you?  This means that your advertising income will likely suffer until the middle of January, and, given the dynamics at play, there isn’t much anyone can do about it.

The good news is that these patterns are a normal part of a year running a website.  Some times (November, early December) are up and others are down, but in the end, it’s important to focus on what you can control – your content – and not trying to counteract seasonal changes.

How to get a new iPhone 6 – a partner’s guide

I’ve always been into tech – I’m obsessed by gadgets and have a wide range of obsolete, discarded electronic items scattered around the house.  In the late 90s I was convinced the mini-disc was the best music format (I have 2 players and over 40 discs.)  Because of this history I urge you to not judge my wife too harshly.

6 months ago I bought a brand new iPhone 5s 32GB.  At that time I already had an iPhone 5 16GB (less than a year old – bought to replace my 8GB iPhone 4s.)   My argument for buying the new 5s was: my 16GB model was almost full (so I needed more storage), had a slower processor (I could work faster with the new phone and spend more time with my wife) ­and my ‘old’ one was on a locked contract, so I couldn’t use it on my frequent trips to the US (yes I know, I could have had it unlocked – stay with me here!)

Reluctantly my wife gave in to my incessant explanations of the improvements the new phone would make to my life.  On my last trip to the US I bought the object of my desire – iPhone 5s, 32GB, space grey – a thing of beauty!

My pleasure was short-lived – no sooner had I bought it, I started hearing rumors of the new iPhone 6.  Immediately this became the focus of my desire.  Sensibly, I kept this to myself!

However, it was my birthday recently and my wife admitted she was struggling to find something to surprise me with.  I told her not to worry, that I had everything I needed – but as the day went on, I casually mentioned that if money was no object, the only thing I could think of that I would like (maybe for Christmas…) was the new iPhone 6.  As you can imagine – that didn’t go down too well.  As the day went on though (I was on a free ride as it was still my birthday) I explained the upgrade needn’t cost us too much.

I showed my long-suffering better half sites where one could sell surplus phones (e.g. ebay, craigslist etc.)   “So you see, these handsets are so easy to sell, I could sell both of my iPhone 5 series phones to offset the cost of the iPhone 6 – right?” (so convinced was I of my argument I didn’t stop to reflect on the irony of my statement given that I still owned iPhones 4s, 5 and 5s!)

The conversation that followed was a little like a boxing match (but without the actual punches!)  Intellectual jabs followed by swinging right and left hooks detailing the further expected benefits of the new model.  Exasperated she came out with the killer question: “What can this new phone do that your old new phone can’t do? – tell me that!”   “Ermm,” – pause – “It’s got a bigger screen!”  – not impressed – “It’s way faster!”  “Notably faster than your old new phone?”  she countered …….”Hmmm, better resolution camera???”  Again, an unimpressed look met my hopeful gaze.

I realized I was beaten.  “I suppose you’re” right I said “maybe the new phone isn’t worth the extra money.”   Sulking is an undignified term so I shall say I skulked around the house in a resigned fashion, following her from room to room, sighing audibly at regular intervals.

Remember I said it was my birthday?  Well, just then a card flopped onto the mat – it was from her Mother – the text read – “may the year ahead be full of good things – you deserve them.  May your wants be few, but those you have be granted”

I passed the card to my wife, with an expectant smile on my face.  “You’re not having a new phone –forget it” she said.  Wisely I didn’t try to advance this poor position.

Later, over dinner, the iPhone conversation safely in the past, my wife asked me  ”Shall we get another dog?”

Without skipping a beat I asked ”Why?  What will it do that our current dog can’t?  Will it be bigger, faster, have a better sense of smell, be a better retriever?”  Against all odds she started laughing and said “OK, OK, I get it – you can have the new phone if you like – for Christmas!”

We’re also getting a new puppy at Christmas — I will take pictures of it on my new iPhone 6!

Mobile Menus and Fonts – 5 Tips to a Better Mobile Site

Internet browsing is going mobile – make sure you’re ready!

It goes without saying that a modern mobile site should be written in responsive design so that the content re-sizes to fit the screen size available.  However, often scaling down a desktop site to fit the screen results in unreadable text and images lose much of their impact.

1. Mobile site font size

Mobile site text size should be large enough to be read easily on the screen size being used, without having to ‘pinch and expand,’ or use a screen magnifier tool.  Similarly, images should be cropped and sized so the message in the image can be seen and understood without the need to magnify then roam around the image.  Think of it as if the screen size was a fixed size piece of paper, so all information should be readable without any further manipulation.

mobile layout before and after

Mobile layout before and after.

2. Clear menus and simple navigation

Navigation is important on any site, but on a mobile site it is even more so.  Great navigation should allow a user to get to almost anywhere on the site via drop down (or sideways expanding) menus that expand further to access lower level menus.  So you should be able to reach any page on your mobile site by simply clicking on a menu link from the homepage.


Mobile layout navigation

Having a multiple-level menus helps your visitors browse your site from their mobile device.

Using multiple-level menus has clear advantages to the user in terms of ease of access to information. It also minimizes data usage as you are only downloading pages you want to see rather than ‘transit’ pages.

3. Thumb-friendly links or call to action buttons

Small text links placed close together, particularly in the menu can cause frustrating accidental clicks because of what I call ‘fat thumb’ syndrome.  This wastes your visitors’ time and data and can potentially cause them to leave.  Therefore, it’s really important to make your menu links and other call to action buttons ‘thumb friendly!’   As a rule of thumb (sorry, couldn’t help myself!), links should be at least 44 pixels deep and call to action buttons 44×44 pixel.

thumb friendly links

Small, hard to click links vs. thumb-friendly links.

4.  Prominent search boxes

Search is as important on a mobile site as it is on a desktop site.  Make sure you have a clearly visible search box that is big enough so text can be read while being typed in.  Also, make sure the search box doesn’t become obscured by the on-screen keyboard – and yes, I have seen this happen, and it’s not an isolated case!

Make sure the search boxes are easy to locate and use on your mobile site.

Make sure the search boxes are easy to locate and use on your mobile site.

5. Forgive errors!

Despite having implemented great navigation and thumb-friendly links and buttons, mobile visitors often make mistakes.  They could be walking, jogging, or be passengers in cars (but not drivers folks!) or trains where movement of the vehicle makes accurate clicking difficult.  Your visitors will thank you if you have a clear and accessible back browser button, and a prominent ‘Home’ button.


Reading the experiments’ page

There is lots of useful information in your experiments’ page. Here’s a brief guide to help you find your way around.

The experiments’ page is designed to give you a visual representation of the results of the different layout experiments being tested by ezoic.  The results are organized by device (desktop, tablet and mobile) and can be customized to show particular date ranges.

Understanding the Overview Chart 
Near the top of the page you will find a multi-colored chart that shows the different experiments that have been shown to your visitors.  The vertical axis represents the % of visitors who see a particular layout and the horizontal axis is the date the experiments were shown.
The different colors in the body of the chart represent the different layouts and there is a key to show which color represents which layout.  For example, on the screengrab below the layout experiment called Pollack, shown in red, was shown to 91.61%of the traffic on 10 Aug 14.

Understanding the data table
The experiments are ranked based on the optimization goals you set for your site (you can change these in “Settings>Optimization Goals>Manage.”).   The data metrics, Page Views per Visit (PV/Visit), Average Time on Site (AVG TOS), Bounce Rate (Bounce %) and Earnings Per 1000 Visitor (EPMV) are weighted according to your aims.  You can see from this picture that experiment ‘Pollack’ is ranked at #1.  It beats #2,  Penguine, for PV/V, but is 1 second less on AVG TOS and has a slightly higher bounce rate and a lower revenue. But Penguine is showing an EPMV of $17.80 against Pollack’s $12.17.   The system is promoting Pollack above Penguine based on the combination of the weighted metric scores.  So Pollack’s scores from PV/Visit, AVG TOS and Bounce % were deemed to be worth more towards achieving the optimization goals set by the publisher than the extra revenue from Penguine.
If the publisher changed the optimization goal is to a revenue focus, Penguine would likely increase its ranking, and Pollack would drop.  The same weighting is keeping Penguine above Plaice, even though Plaice is scoring slightly better for PV/Visit and AVG TOS.

How accurate are the results?
It takes a certain amount of visits to any particular layout experiment to achieve statistical confidence in the results.   Those experiments that have reached statistical confidence are awarded a green bar under the Confidence tab – the data on these experiments is very accurate.  Any data in experiments that have not yet gained the green bar status should not be deemed reliable — so Skate is a way off yet!

Projection of Results?
Lots of data is important but just as important is ‘what does this data mean to me?’  The data in the table shows past results only.  The projection tool, which you can access by pushing the blue ‘View’ button, shows what difference sending 100% of traffic to one layout for a year would make, based on current performance.  Penguine, the highest performer for revenue, is projected to give an increase of $12,408.74, while reducing Bounce % by 0.12%.  Others will give different projections – try it for yourself – it’s fun!

So there are lots of data that will help you understand the performance of your experiment – and all in glorious color!  Have a play around – it will really help you understand the way the system is evaluating your experiments based on your optimization goals.

As ever, your Ezoic representative will be happy to explain in more detail.

New Features June/July 2014

We’re excited about it. And you should be too!

Business and Corporate Sites

Ezoic’s optimization technology is now available for business and corporate sites who are looking to improve their website’s usability. Get access to touch-and-swipe enabled mobile and tablet versions of your site along with modern, user-friendly desktop versions.

Google has reported that upwards of 70% of people are more likely to use a service or buy a product if the company has a mobile-friendly site. Don’t lose out on those potential customers! 

Selecting Templates

You can now select the templates you want to test! Also, if you’re curious to see which layouts are performing best, navigate from the experiments page to the templates area to see a preview! (Settings > Templates)


Select the templates you want to test.

Ad Placements

In order to give you more control over the tests, you can now select the page positions ads can appear at.
Remember, the more restricted the tests are the less room for improvements! 

Ad Placements

Select the ad placements on the page.

Top Images

Along with the addition of hundreds of new templates, we also introduced the ‘Top Image’. Website owners can upload their own images or select from Ezoic’s library of images. These top images appear on some of the templates and bring more personality and flair into the look of the site. 

Top Images

Select top images to personalize the layouts.

Website Testing: Not just for Ecommerce sites

Testing – Not just for ecommerce websites

Ecommerce sites are pros at testing their website’s layout. Take Amazon, for example. Their site looks different than it did a couple of years ago, especially on mobile and tablet. Does it look better now? That’s a personal question. Does it perform better? You can bet your last dollar it does. Amazon mobile site comparison 2010 to 2014

Ecommerce sites have a single goal: conversion. They will spend millions of dollars and tons of resources to improve their conversion rate – even if it’s testing the simplest thing such as the color of the ‘Confirm Purchase’ button.

So how does website testing benefit informational sites? Whereas ecommerce sites strive to improve conversion rates, informational sites are focused on improving user experience metrics (time on site, pageviews per visit, bounce rate) and increasing revenue from advertising. Unfortunately, most independent website owners think that layout testing and improvement is something reserved for ecommerce sites. This is no longer the case. Testing your website’s layout is now necessary if you want to stay modern, Google-friendly, and ahead of the competition.

Don’t get us wrong, we love old websites. But as much as we loved the 90’s, if the website still has the original layout then it’s time for an upgrade, especially for mobile and tablet devices.

As exemplified by Amazon and other successful websites, testing is the best way to find the layouts that produce the best results, which in our case are improved usability and increased income.

Make the most from your Website with these Top 5 Adsense Tips

Here are a few basic tips/reminders you can try to improve your income from Adsense:

1.  Use the most popular Adsense ad sizes, experiment with the new, bigger ad sizes and test their location on the page.

Picking adsizes that are popular with advertisers, you’ll get more competition for your inventory between advertisers and a higher cpc, so always keep plenty of wide ‘stock sizes’ on your site.  The most popular ad sizes are popular with advertisers for a reason, they work better. A wide ad is better than a tall ad. This is because visitors read in chunks of a few words at a time and wider ads make more sense to an ad viewer (Adsense calls these word chunks ‘thought units’).  Large rectangle 336×280 is the most popular for this, and it’s popular with advertisers, but there are newer ad sizes  you should try.  And even create your own, but always try them in new positions within your content to test what works best and in conjunction with item 5 below.







2. Quality Content attracts Quality Visitors

Sounds obvious, but it’s still the number one thing you can do to improve your site’s authority score and to earn more from Adsense ads is to add more, high quality, original content. The reason advertisers are buying clicks from users on your site is because your site’s visitors are highly engaged with your content.  It’s not that your Roman History site will necessarily be showing ads for sandals :-)  – it’s more that the higher the engagement with your audience, the more likely the visitors are to be paying attention enough to see an ad and think about clicking on it.  Visitors from organic search and from your email list are the best quality visitors you can get.  Get more of them.  The targeting of the ad is Google’s business.  Your site’s Traffic Quality / Visitor Quality is yours.


3. Don’t kill the Goose that lays the golden eggs!  Measure and improve your User Experience (UX) Metrics and keep monetization and UX in balance.

You want your ads to be seen, but you don’t want to spam out your users either.  So how do you do that?  Having too many ads ‘above the fold’ (the immediately visible portion of a typical screen size) is bad and will damage your site.  So how many is too many?  Google’s advice on this is to keep your ad density from overpowering your user’s attention away from your content.


What’s for dinner? (don’t crowd out your content!)

Here’s how we do it at Ezoic – monitor and improve your bounce rate, page views per visit, or average session time by testing new layouts and ad positions at the same time.  If you balance your ad income metrics (income per thousand visits is what we use at Ezoic) against your UX scores for your site, then you can keep your site from being too ‘ad heavy’.  If the UX metrics are improving and your income is also up – you know you’re striking the right balance. This of course also applies to Mobile as well as desktop.




4. Keep up to date with Adsense best practice and keep it clean!

As my Grandmother used to say ‘Honesty is the best policy’.  Don’t do anything to kill the quality of your advertisers’ clicks (or kill your content quality).

Avoid any ad implementations that could lead to accidental clicks and ALWAYS keep within the Adsense guidelines.  Keep your content family friendly, always attribute any quotes or content that isn’t original, don’t click on your own ads and never, ever be tempted to try anything that could dilute your traffic quality.  You can be sure Google’s seen it all before and with the data they have access to – they will catch you.

5. Methodically Test your Fonts, Colors, Borders.

Bigger font sizes work best, Google’s default palette is a good one to use, but test, test, test your fonts, colors and borders.  It’s not the case that one method works for all sites.   Colored wheel whiteThe quality of your upstream traffic (whether most of your users are coming from Google, Bing etc or if they are arriving on your site from Facebook) affects how the page should be laid out and what the ads should look like.



Summary: Test, test, test!

In our experience if you keep testing layout and ad position placements on desktop mobile and tablet, you can generate 50-250% more income from exactly the same content (whilst improving UX).  All you need is the data, time, patience and tools.


5 Practical things you can do to improve your site

  1. Write great content – update regularly

Content is King – a bit of a cliché maybe, but it is still absolutely true.  Your content is the reason people come to your site and quality/quantity of content is also among the main factors in search engine ranking. Visitors don’t come because they like the look of the site, or because you have some fancy transitions for images etc.  It’s all about the content.  Adding new content and ensuring existing content is updated so it remains relevant is extremely important for influencing search engine rankings and gaining traffic . Quality, relevant content establishes your site as an authority in your subject area.  Visitors will learn to appreciate the content and its credibility — so will the major search engines and you will be rewarded with search traffic. So build great quality content, keep it up to date and add new content regularly.  If you build it (and maintain it) they will come!

  1. Test different layouts – position of advertisements, menus, social media etc.

Layout has a real, measurable impact on user experience and on how your users engage with your advertisers.  A menu placed at the top, or to the left rather than to the right of a page can make a big difference to the ease of navigation through your pages. Same with positions of ads – placing a MPU advert directly above the start of your content can be much more effective than, say, a large skyscraper over on the right.  But beware, each site is different, what works for one site and its users may not be as effective on another.


Impact of testing change of advert position

Many publishers are concerned that advert positions may have an impact on user experience – they are right!  But a prominent advert is not necessarily detrimental to user experience. To determine what works best you really need to run some tests, either A/B, or multivariate tests.   Some of the results are entirely counter-intuitive too.  What might seem like an intrusive advert may actually result in improved user experience metrics.  Again, not always, and to make sure testing is the only way to be sure. Either way, spend some time determining the aim of your site – i.e. what is it you are trying to improve?  Then design, set-up the test, wait for the results and analyze what they mean for your site. A/B testing, where you test response to one layout versus another can be extremely effective, but there is always the risk that one metric improves while another gets worse, so it can be difficult to isolate the causes of changes in metrics. Another way to test is to run a multivariate test – here many elements on several different layouts are being tested simultaneously.  This does need higher levels of traffic than A/B testing and again it may be difficult to determine causality but this way you know which of several layouts best suit your visitors’ preferences while matching your aims for the site. Testing can be hard, but it really is essential if you want to strike the correct balance between content, layout, user experience and revenue.

  1. Get mobile

The growth of mobile browsing shows no sign of slowing down.  This year, more browsing will take place on mobile devices than on laptops/desktop computers.   Sadly, many mobile sites are simply miniaturized versions of the desktop site.  Text is so small that it can’t be read without expanding the text, so you lose where you are on a site.  Links are so narrow and close together that it’s virtually impossible to click on the link you want (‘fat thumb’ syndrome!) Also you often have to click through many pages before reaching the content you want.

h-i OLD

Old Mobile

A modern mobile site will have a drop down, expanding menu with legible text and thumb friendly links and buttons.  Users can navigate within the site straight from the home page without downloading content they are not looking for, saving them time and megabytes on their download plan.  As you can see from this example, you can navigate into the 4th level without leaving the homepage.

h-i MENU 1HI Menue L1hi Menu 2HI menu 3

New Mobile Menu Sequence

Furthermore, modern mobile sites needs to more than resize for mobile.  It needs to be responsive, or adapt, to the screen size it is being browsed on.  Navigation, adverts, content, images, data tables etc. all need to be configured for each user dependent on screen size and device.

  1. Pay attention to download speeds

Download speed is always important, but even more so on mobile sites.  Information is being requested often via narrow bandwidth carriers and assembled by slower processors than in a high-spec laptop or desktop using high speed broadband or wifi. Innovative techniques can be employed to speed up mobile downloads.  These include cloud serving and CDNs, eliminating unnecessary rendering code, loading popular pages first (known as lazy loading and so on. To deliver a great user experience on mobile minimizing download speeds is vital.

  1. Promote via social networks

Sharing is caring!  How often have you read that on a site?  Making sharing on social networks is the name of the game.  Your users are on them, and sharing sites via social networks, often from mobile to mobile. Make sure your mobile site encourages sharing and makes it easy for users on mobile to comment and like you site Be more social! Get linked-in, like Facebook, show interest in Pinterest and don’t be afraid to twitter on about your subject. The internet audience is fragmented more than ever, so to reach your audience you need to be accessible on all the channels they use to access the internet. The easier it is for users to interact with your mobile site, the more mobile users you will attract.