By John Cole

Testing different layouts of the same content, with different ad positions, to see what the users like best… Sounds great doesn’t it?  But what is it like to actually test your site?

Here’s an in-depth guide to dispel the myths essay writing services around testing, and how to get the most out of your site.  Whether you use the automated system from Ezoic, or whether you want to do the tests yourself, here’s a quick run-down of the top seven things you need to keep in mind when testing your site.

  1. 1. Going on the data.
  • Boring as it may be, to conduct scientifically accurate tests to boost those all-important user experience metrics AND to boost ad income, you need to collect enough data to reach a point of statistical confidence. This might mean a lot of waiting
  • The reason for this is that, to be objective (rather than subjective), and get durable results, you can only really ‘know’ if one layout or ad combination truly beats another if those results are mathematically replicable.
  • Anyone testing their site must not make assumptions based on thin data, a few stray clicks, or actions from too few users.  To dig in deeper on the math: to test a single layout to book report help full confidence, you need between 7,000-9,000 visits. That is for a single layout on a single screen size.
  • Typically we suggest testing at least 8-10 layouts to full confidence per screensize.
  • Results take time to build due to the constraints of the math behind the methodology of testing, so 200%-300% increases in ad income are possible (and are common) – but the results take time because the system needs data.

Example Revenue


  1. 2. Choosing your testing goals.
  • Whenever you test, you need to prove (or disprove) a hypothesis.  Ezoic publishers choose the goals they want to achieve from testing. The options are ‘Balanced’, ‘User Experience focused’, ‘Revenue Focused’, or a custom combination.  You need to have a clear idea of what success looks like before you start.
  • So, if you choose ‘User Experience Focused’, you need to look for the layouts that are improving the time on site, page views per visit, and bounce rate with less emphasis on the revenue.
  • The default goal setting we’ve found best is ‘Balanced’ – with a 50% weighting for revenue and 50% weighting for UX.

2. optimization goals

  • Optimization Goals: ‘Revenue Focused’ setting in Ezoic weights revenue and user experience metrics in the ratio 70:30.
  • For sites that are set to ‘Revenue Focused’, the system will test (to some users) more ‘front and center’ ad placements to see how they affect revenue and UX.
  • If the bounce rate for an ad test stays the same and the time on site and page views per visit are also unaffected (or better) then those ad placements are working and not at all ‘bad’ for usability.  It’s a counter-intuitive point, but if you think about it – it makes sense.  If people are bouncing less, spending more time on the site and looking at more pages, then those ads – for the majority of the users – are not negatively affecting their experience of the site.
  1. 3. Content to Ad Density: Five ads on a page isn’t necessarily bad!
  • • 3. ad placements
  • Some publishers think that showing 5 ads per page is always going to be ‘too much’.  But that depends upon a lot of factors than what it ‘looks’ like.   Where are the native ads on the same page? How close are they to the content?  What is the UX doing?  Is it improving? (bounce rate is going down and time on site / page views per visit are going up?)  If the UX is going up on a test, then the ads are not negatively affecting the site’s user experience, therefore, 5 ads is fine if the page is long enough.
  • Some people say, ‘more ads are bad for user experience’ no matter what.  This is not actually the case.  We have found – from testing thousands of sites – that if you scientifically measure and balance UX metrics against ad income (and you have enough data), you can reliably make more money from ads AND protect and improve the usability.  That’s right folks, you can have your cake and eat it too!

Side note – why Ezoic uses 5 display ads.

  • Ezoic is a Certified Partner with Google AdSense, and we are also a partner with Google for their Ad Exchange products.   Being a certified partner means our system can show up to 5 ads per page instead of the usual 3.
  • Publishers using Ezoic also get to control the number and density of ads on individual pages as well as site wide.  If they didn’t like a particular ad position – and didn’t want to test it, then they could have eliminated it from testing.

Desktop – don’t push your content down the page on every page of a site (above the fold ad density).  

  • Google’s advice on above the fold ad density is common sense.  If you hide the content below the fold, people will (likely) bounce out.  Their actual advice is here and they state clearly that above the fold ad placement is judged on a site wide basis not on a per-page basis.
  • So it’s OK to test above the fold ads, but don’t do so on every page of a site.  Testing hundreds or even thousands of variations to see what the users respond to best gives the deepest insight into what ads should go where (and what other ads on the page).  Avoid simplistic judgements – you need to look at the entire user experience and test everything! 

Side note on what Ezoic tests.

  • Ezoic does test 3 ads above the fold on desktop; but cannot do that on every page of a site.  We have programmed the system to test what works best from both a usability and revenue point of view (and keeping to Google’s advice).  How frequently this is done is based on the data from the users and the goals set by the publisher.  More about this topic here:
  1. 4. Policy.  It goes without saying, but you need to keep compliant with Google AdSense terms of service.
    • If you’re trying to boost revenue, it’s really important not to generate any clicks that are accidental.  You must always keep the ads in compliant places on every device or screensize.
    • Common violations on mobile are putting a big square ad above the fold on mobile, or showing two ads on a mobile viewport (not including anchor ads).
    • It’s no good optimizing your earnings to find that you’ve had AdSense ad serving disabled to your site, or worse, to get your AdSense account banned.  Stay safe – know their policies inside and out!
    • One of the reasons some publishers use Ezoic is because the Ezoic system only tests ads in compliant positions (on all screensizes).
    • 5. Set a baseline ‘control’ and define what is a ‘Good’ User Experience when you’re testing ad positions.
    • If a new layout for a particular screen size has the bounce rate go down, the time on site go up and the page views per visitor go up (from a statistically relevant sample), then you can conclude with confidence that the layout is returning a ‘good’ user experience.  Maybe you’re optimizing for more social shares – then make sure you set the control and know your baseline.  Monitor what you have now – so that you know what is working and what’s not.
    • Over time, the proportion of ads to content is determined by the results and the goals you set. You should not sacrifice UX for additional revenue (unless you’ve decided that your goals are to do so!).  You should continue to test new layouts until you find layouts that hit your goals in both areas, compared to your original layout, which should be used as the control.
    • IF the UX metrics are on an upward curve or flat, then the extra revenue being generated is entirely sustainable (i.e. you’re not spamming people out)
    • Lower bounce rates from testing actually win you more traffic for the keywords your site ranks for.
    • We know this because we have the stats that show that the majority of sites that use Ezoic grow in traffic Lowering your overall bounce rate on mobile, even by 2%, can make a big difference in how your keywords rank for mobile search.

4. Bounce rate reduction

Example of lowering site-wide bounce rate using testing.  It might not seem like a lot, but it can win your site a lot more traffic***

    • Google’s advice – from Matt Cutts – is clear.  “If you want to stay competitive, you need to take a “fresh” look at your site and keep upgrading, tweaking, improving the site and the user experience”.
    • 6. Go on the Data.
    • Testing requires a commitment to go on the data and not to base your conclusions on your own subjective opinion. It is a systematic approach to improving the layout that works, but it can be difficult for people to turn off their emotions when it comes to their own sites…try to relax and see it for what it is; an experiment to make the site better for the users (and you!)
    • Looking at one test layout and making any conclusions (“this is a bad user experience”) is not scientific and is using the user data.  Remember, good UX is measurable.  If a layout is hurting user experience, it should get phased out when the experiment is complete and will no longer receive traffic.
    • Simply looking at one layout doesn’t tell the entire story. In fact, some of the results are surprising. Layouts you might think ‘look’ like they would perform well for usability are oftentimes the worst for usability – which is why we test!
    • Here at Ezoic, we’ve built a system that tests everything.  There is a vast untapped potential in your site that can be unlocked, using the visitor data.
    • Example tests that our system tests for our publishers (which you should try too!) include finding:
    • o Better ad locations in terms of revenue per visit.
    • o The effect on usability metrics from those ad locations
    • o How many ads, their sizes and types (native, display) – which combos – work best
    • o How navigation changes like menu position/ colors/ content recommendation links, sidebars, (whole page layout!) affect revenue and usability
    • o The effect display ads have on native and in-line ads and vice versa.
    • o All of the above by browser type, operating system and screensize!
    • 7. Be objective!  Think about the long term.  Publishers who look at an Ezoic site should remember that not everyone is seeing the same thing (Ezoic is a multivariate testing platform) and it is trying lots of things all at the same time.  If a layout is not working well (UX metrics decline), or isn’t beating the original site for the goals that have been set, it will be dropped from testing automatically.  Seeing something you don’t personally like doesn’t mean it should never have been tested.
    • We webmasters are naturally constrained by our own preferences.  This is just human nature.  We cannot truly act like a ‘new user’ on our sites (no matter how hard we try!) One of the reasons we have a computer (Ezoic) do all this for us is to ‘get out of our own way’.
    • We encourage publishers to go totally on the response data from the majority of their users and not rely on their own preferences.


    • Good ad testing or UX testing requires plenty of data to produce durable results. Smaller sites can test too, but publishers large and small, need to understand the math behind testing and have realistic expectations about the timeframe for getting results.
    • From having seen the data on thousands of sites, we’ve seen that almost any site can be improved by testing layout and ad positions.  Sites that test have consistently outperformed those that do not; enjoying improved usability, increased revenue, better site health and – eventually – more traffic too.
    • Anyone can do this, but you need to keep to Google Policy on ad locations, watch your UX and be patient enough to allow the results to build.
    • It’s worth it!  Ezoic publishers see an average ad income improvement of 2.4x (240%) with a 40% UX metrics improvement from testing.

About Ezoic

Ezoic ( is the world’s largest multivariate testing platform that automatically improves a site’s layout based on users’ actions on mobile, tablet and desktop. Ezoic offers content publishers a must-have tool that makes creating and testing thousands of variations effortless – regardless of what technology or CMS is used.  With both user experience and revenue optimization across all devices, Ezoic meets the diverse needs of any content website looking to improve their traffic or revenue.  Ezoic is a Google Certified Adsense Partner.

Author Bio: John Cole

John is the Chief Customer Officer of Venture Backed Technology start up Ezoic. Formerly an Officer in the British Royal Navy, John was a founding director of Mediarun Group – sold to Adknowledge in 2007, and then ran the Adknowledge operation in Europe, working on their virtual currency & display platforms – monetizing Facebook applications. John then founded a website operations business prior to joining Ezoic as CCO in 2011.  Ezoic was the first American company to become a Google AdSense Certified Partner, is a Google Ad Exchange Network Partner. 

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