WHY SIDEBAR ADS
How many times have you sat down to see your favourite show or movie only to be distracted by endless ad breaks? Hate 'em, right?
Too many is probably the answer. Sidebar advertising is not a good strategy for serious bloggers because it pays peanuts unless you have huge traffic on your blog. I've seen many bloggers sign up on affiliate programs, then fill their blogs with endless ads, then sit back thinking that money is going to flow in. Sorry to have to break it to you, but you are wasting your T.I.M.E.
In the meantime you haven't added any value to your website, just A L O T of distraction.
Too many ads, and indeed irrelevant ads, and you are set to make your bounce rate go off charts. What is bounce rate you ask? I'll touch upon Google Analytics in a different post but for the time being all you need to know is that bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
If you have a high bounce rate, it means that you are not working hard enough to keep your visitors. Everything counts. From your layout, to typeface, to the time that your super high resolution photos take to load while I am on the go (and then realise that I could be wasting my monthly data on a better looking and faster loading website, yeah).
So your goal is to engage your visitor so they stay longer. This is mostly done with visuals, followed by content. Once someone is hooked, they're likely to start navigating around what they deem to be worthy content and are more likely to be return visitors.
Advertising is competing with your content for attention.
Look at me!
The worst offenders are by far those flashing or gif banners. Seriously, try reading something when your peripheral vision is being bombarded with images of furniture moving around. When you've worked so hard to create your content, do you really want to put something that is MEANT to be distracting your readers and enticing them to click and move onto another website?
Return visitors see value in your blog. If the return once, they're yours for like ever.
It could be your reviews, your photography, your clever writing. Whatever the reason, they sure don't come to YOUR website because they need to be reminded of Matchesfashion.com or Habitat.
Having said that, when you use ads sporadically (and not necessarilly to fill in some blank space) then you can add value. To do so, the ad needs to be very targeted and aligned with the content you have provided so far.
So for example, you have been showing off the latest make up kit or interiors products, named the brand but have not provided a link to a product page. You can have a sidebar banner for a make up or interiors shop which you have checked and already provides the product you just reviewed. If your visitor likes your review, chances are that they will go ahead and look it up, there and then.
But then think about it.
You just encouraged someone to leave your blog... Oops!
Should I stay or should I go?
You want readers to stay but at the same time you want some ad money. If you are a new blog, try building up your readers' trust before you launch a sales pitch to them. Each element (content vs ads) need to be in tune with each other.
How would you feel if someone tried to sell you something the moment they met you?
I'd probably be pissed off. So avoid ANY banner like ad on your landing page people.
And imagine using Google Adsense plugins and having a product appearing on your blog that you would never yourself recommend to anyone? This could hurt your reputation too!
So is there a solution?