Author: Harold Davis & David Iwanow
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Website owners
Pros: Practical advice
Cons: Already a bit dated
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
The subtitle claims “cashing in with AdSense, AdWords and the Google APIs” - how can it be done?
This is a second edition of a book that originally appeared in 2006 and as the authors point out in the Preface "Five years is forever in Internet time".
The book is organized into three parts with Part I, Making Money with a Website being a very general introduction that starts with Chapter 1: Creating Successful Websites and opens with some comments that ring true:
"Build it and they will come is a wonderful line in the movies. Too bad it’s usually not quite so easy in real life! True, good web content is occasionally – not always – discovered surprisingly quickly. More often, it requires a great deal of disciplined work to draw traffic to a website, not matter how good the content of the site is.”
It goes on to categorize web content with a view to identifying "good content". This chapter is a mix of theory and practice. On the practical side it introduces the Alexa Toolbar for discovering the popularity of sites and also discusses positioning ads and even has code for server-side includes and PHP includes. The chapter concludes (as do all the chapters in the book) with a list of Action Items that summarize its content.
Chapter 2: Creating Effective Marketing Plans starts by explaining that "At its simplest, marketing means telling a story” and goes on to look at the various narrative elements that it could contain. It then introduces the 5Ps theory of marketing - product, price, place, promotion, positioning. It has practical advice in Creating a Plan, Creating a Checklist and Naming Your Site. The chapter concludes by comparing Search Engine Marketing (SEM) with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and puts forward the ideal of a blended campaign that uses both.
Chapter 3 looks at strategies for Driving Traffic to a Website starting with submitting your site to search engines, listing Google, Bing and Yahoo as the important ones. It also looks at Google’s Webmaster tools, generating a site map and the importance of inbound links.
Next we come to Chapter 4: Nuts and Bolts of SEO where we meet both free and commercial tools for SEO, primarily Google Webmaster Tools. There's a useful section “Design for SEO” culminating in a list of six principles. Then we are introduced to Google's PageRank algorithm which it states "now reportedly processes more than 100 variables" in a "secret sauce". Here it is explained as being based on inbound links - as long as they are not simply from link farms or are link exchanges. There is some good advice in a section about Avoiding Overly Aggressive SEO and a list of what Google considers bad behavior.
Chapter 5: Making Money with Affiliate Programs introduces three common ways to use advertising to generate some revenue from a site:
Affiliate Programs - sales commission when someone who clicks through a link on your site to an advertiser’s site actually buys something
Sponsored advertising - being paid a fee when an ad is displayed on your site often referred to as CPM because they are paid for on a cost per thousand impressions basis
Contextual advertising - advertising that appears on web pages which are relevant to the product being advertised. Often referred to as CPC Cost-per-click, the basis on which they are paid.
The rest of the chapter is about the mechanics of affiliate programs and some areas of concern and it concludes by recommending the Amazon.com Associate Program if you want to belong to just one such program. Chapter 6: Making Money by Hosting Advertising follows up by covering the two alternatives of CPM and CPC.
Chapter 7: Understanding the Google Behemoth - and while the book seems a bit dated in terms of what Google does – Google has become an even bigger behemoth recently - it is still current in terms of understanding how Google fits in terms of monetizing a site and sets the scene for Parts II and III of the book which cover Cashing in with AdSense and Working with AdWords respectively.
Chapter 8: Working with AdSense starts with applying for an account, then introduces the various AdSense Programs - for Content; (and now also Mobile Content) Search; Feeds; Domain and Video Units commenting that AdSense for Content is by far the most important with AdSense for Search "a distant second" and the others being "noncore". Much of the rest of the chapter is in the section “AdSense for Content Settings” with settings for the remaining programs then being briefly outlined. Chapter 9 continues looking at AdSense, covering its reporting and performance tracking tools. A section “Understanding the Metrics” goes through the reports in detail and Webalizer is introduced as an example of a Web Log Analysis Program.
Moving to the third and final part of the book, Chapter 10: Using AdWords goes through signing up for an account, designing an advert, creating and editing ad campaigns and Ad groups. Then Chapter 11: Improving Performance looks at monitoring AdWord activity and then at management facilities, specifically the Ads Diagnostic Tool. Chapter 12: The Zen of AdWords introduces the idea of the customer lifecycle with attention to keywords, getting seen and landing pages. It then has sections on targeting the competition and estimating traffic - using Traffic Estimator. Chapter 13 Advanced Performance Monitoring goes into running multiple campaigns and considers conversion tracking - in particular tracking PayPal purchases. Finally Chapter 14: AdWords beyond CPC looks at creating display ads.
This book takes a highly practical approach with lots of screen dumps. If you are new to AdWords and AdSense and to Google’s Webmaster Tools it has a lot to offer. While removing the code on the grounds that it is too specialized reduces the value of the book to the developer and now it is accessible to anyone with a website to promote or to monetize.