In my last article, I pointed out some of the changes that Google recently made to AdSense. I discussed how you can now put ad units on error, login, registration, thank you and welcome pages, and suggested that you might want to think about adding content to those pages to ensure that you received target ads.
The other significant change that Google introduced was to start tracking the keywords that users look for in the AdSense for Search boxes. Until now if you wanted to know what your users were looking for when they reached your site, you had go through a complicated workaround that involved creating a special logo then tracking that logo through your logs. The keywords that the user entered appear as part of the URL on which your logo was called.
Frankly, I found that just too much effort for the sort of returns that AdSense for Search brings on my sites but if it works for some people, good luck to them.
Google’s “Top Keywords” report now makes all that unnecessary though... almost. It lets you see the keywords that users enter in your search box.
First, the downside: it doesn’t tell you everything. A word has to be entered at least twice before it becomes eligible to be on the list and you only receive the most popular 25 search terms. So if you wanted to know every search that your users made, you’d still have to use the workaround — and spend hours searching through giant URLs.
On the upside though, the keyword report does sound like a great way to get to know your users a little better. If someone’s entering a search term in your AdSense for Search it’s because they haven’t found the content they were looking for on your site. Once they leave your site through your search box though, you’ll only get paid if they click on an ad on the results page. That’s your one chance. If they don’t click there, they’re gone.
One strategy then might be to place an AdSense for Search box on your website just to see what your users are looking for. You could then create your own content for the top search terms, keeping your users on your site where you can serve them more ads. For example, if you had a site about furniture and you found that many of your users were looking for information about woodworking tools, you could create extra pages about woodworking and optimize it for AdSense. Why give users away when you can use the keyword report to find out what they’re interested in and advertise to them?