I’ve been having a hard time getting the Google AdSense engine to properly target its advertisements to the content on my pages, and have been digging around for solutions. I came across a few cryptic references to “google_hints” as an additional variable you can add to your AdSense code block, but there’s nothing about it on the Google site itself. Can you explain?
It should be no surprise to you that with a program as popular as AdSense, Google is constantly experimenting with refinements, allowing certain publishers to try different combinations, ad sizes, or even specific parameters or tweaks to their AdSense code blocks. As far as I can tell, that’s where the google_hints parameter falls.
To confirm, I emailed the AdSense team and asked them for an explanation, and here’s what they explained:
“The feature you’re referring to is one of several new features the Google AdSense team is currently testing for a very limited number of publishers. At this time, we are not able to offer these features to other publishers. Should we offer these features to additional publishers in the future, we will be sure to notify you at that time.”
There’s a huge problem with google_hints, however, and that is that if it’s really a mechanism to add keywords to your AdSense block, why not use it like this: google_hints=”mesothelioma” and get those groovy high-paying Mesothelioma ads on your page, even though your article is actually about tort reform or something even unrelated? You can imagine the spam opportunities for people trying to game the AdSense engine. I’m sure that’s one big reason why they’re leery about rolling this feature out widely.
However, let’s back up a bit. You said that you have a hard time getting well-targeted ads. I suggest that there are a couple of common techniques you can try before you give up (or try using google_hints without permission, a risky proposition at best!). First off, you need to definitely use AdSense section targeting, a surprisingly easy technique to highlight what material on your page is the content as opposed to navigational elements, etc.
Secondly, just some common sense: Make sure your titles are denoted as h1 headers and that they have a couple of keywords within, and make sure that the title of your pages includes your article title or another keyword or two about your subject area.
Those should help targeting immensely and you should start seeing better targeted AdSense ads on your pages and therefore get better clickthru and, yes, earn more money with the program. If you need more help, remember that I have lots of AdSense help here, and if you aren’t yet part of the AdSense program, can I humbly suggest that my article is a good place to Get Started with Google AdSense.