In a business as complex (and competitive) as digital publishing, it’s natural to seek benchmarks to gauge your success. One of the most common questions we get from publishers, especially those starting out, is about how much money they should be earning from their website.
While we understand why publishers are asking that question, the reality is that the answer they’re looking for is going to depend heavily on other factors. There is no “sweet spot” for monthly revenue that all sites in a certain niche should be earning. However, there are questions you can ask to gauge if your site setup is optimized to earn the maximum amount of revenue possible, as well as checks you can perform to make sure there are no glaring issues with your earnings. In this blog, we’ll give you some ways to ensure your site is headed in the right direction.
You can click below to navigate through the blog’s various sections.
- Why you shouldn’t gauge your site’s success solely based on revenue
- What should I be looking at to gauge success instead?
Why you shouldn’t gauge your site’s success solely based on revenue
Simply put, the reason you shouldn’t make “revenue” your ultimate benchmark for a successful website is this: There are far too many factors that impact a site’s earnings.
For example, the graph below from an earlier blog about factors affecting EPMV shows us just factors based on how visitors are accessing your site that influence your earnings. For instance, you’d earn more revenue for an identical site if a visitor comes from a desktop computer versus their iPhone.
Consider also a site just starting out in the pet niche versus a site with a 10+ year established presence. If you are the new pet blogger trying to figure out if your site will be successful by comparing your EPMV to the bigger site, you will likely erroneously believe that your site is not going to succeed, when in fact, you could be on the right track.
What should I be looking at to gauge success instead?
At the end of the day, what makes your site money is making your ad space valuable to advertisers. To borrow from a previous blog on a similar topic, we’ll quote Ezoic CMO Tyler Bishop:
- “If you’re a publisher, website owner, or blogger that makes money from ads on your site there are really only two broad metrics you should care about — how much your readers love your content AND the amount of value your digital property is bringing to advertisers.”
But, that’s still kind of vague. So let’s break that down into some more tangible benchmarks, shall we?
- User Experience Metrics
- Metrics Affecting Advertisers
- Your Advertising Setup
User Experience Metrics
Why does user experience matter when we’re talking about revenue and making sure you’re set up to earn as much as possible?
In a nutshell, if your user experience is strong, your users are going to stay longer on your page, which means more views on advertisements, which means more revenue for you.
Let’s start with a set of metrics you should be familiar with by now, and a set that we can automatically help you improve: Core Web Vitals.
All of the metrics Google sets forth are an attempt to gauge your site’s quality so Google can decide if it wants to send users to your site. Improving your Core Web Vitals will not only help your overall traffic, but you will likely also see improvements in your bounce rate, pages per session, and more – basically, people will have a better experience on your site, so they will stay longer.
If you haven’t used it yet, Leap is a way to improve your site’s Core Web Vitals (and speed!) so that users have a better experience, without requiring you to put in the legwork to find issues and fix them.
Because we have so much content on Core Web Vitals, we won’t go in depth on them here, but here is a summary of what they are and what they measure: (Find more information on them in this article by Google.)
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): Measures loading performance
- FID (First Input Delay): Measures interactivity of a page
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): Measures visual stability
For all of these, you’ll want to score in the “green,” or 75th percentile.
Some other user experience metrics that you should consider paying attention to:
- Unique visitors
- New vs. returning visitors
- Time on page
- Pages per session
- Bounce rate
And more! For other ideas on improving your user experience, we found this article with some helpful metrics to watch. The above list of metrics can all be found on your Google Analytics.
Metrics Affecting Advertisers
Ultimately, if you want to increase the value of the website ads on your property to advertisers you have to be able to provide them with improvements in viewability and Click-through-rate (CTR).
Low viewability can be caused by multiple factors, but the essential issue happens when the views on a page, and by extension the ads on that page, are low-quality. The below graphic also details some reasons why an ad might not be being seen, so might not be generating you revenue.
Working on improving the previously mentioned UX metrics will in turn help your ad viewability, making your site more appealing to advertisers.
Click through rate is similar. Advertisers will naturally want to show their ad on websites and pages where they know users actually engage and click. If a page has low viewability, it will likely have low CTR. You can focus on solving this by looking at your engaged pageviews per visit.
Your Advertising Setup
This is something we try to remind our publishers of regularly. The gist of it is that there are things you can do with Ezoic specifically to make sure that your site is set up to earn the most revenue possible.
A recent blog of ours by marketing specialist Whitney Wright pointed out that “ensuring you have the proper amount of placeholders, the right size, and placement can drastically improve or detract from the overall health of your site.”
Besides checking out her article and ensuring that your specific ad placeholders are optimized, we also have a tool for all publishers with Levels called “Site Scores” that gives publishers detailed recommendations they can use to maximize their monetization potential.
See this example:
Because we have data and we help sites with these things daily, we know many specific strategies that you can use to drastically improve your site’s appeal to advertisers and UX, in turn increasing revenue.
Site Scores is a free diagnostic tool available to every Ezoic publisher that tells you exactly what you could be doing differently to earn more revenue… you definitely don’t want to skip that!
So, back to the revenue question…
For the reasons we’ve detailed above, asking how much money you should be making by comparing yourself to other sites is not the best approach. Sites are like unique snowflakes – your setup, visitors, content, and so many more things all play into how much revenue you could be earning.
Rather than focusing on an arbitrary revenue target, it’s much smarter to focus on hitting other benchmarks that show you how to get more revenue.
We should also detail that our team can help you identify if there’s ever a major issue with your site that is impacting your revenue in a drastic way. If you think you have an error on your site, you should do what you can to tend to it ASAP to get your earnings back on track.
Overall, keep this in mind: any efforts to inflate value that isn’t there usually cost sites in the long run. You can’t fake good quality content. Focus on making your site good, not just getting people to it and making money from it. The money will follow once the quality is there.
For more content on optimizing your website, here are some relevant articles by Ezoic: