TopHatRank Blogger SEO SEO Resources for Bloggers and Publishers Display Ad Best Practices & Exploring Alternative Ad Income Sources: SEO For Bloggers Episode #38

Display Ad Best Practices & Exploring Alternative Ad Income Sources: SEO For Bloggers Episode #38

Recap, Q&A, + All the Resources

During our exploration of the realm of display advertising best practices, we delved deeply into both unconventional income-generating methods and the essential guidelines for effective display advertising. Whether you identify as a passionate blogger, a creative content producer, or an astute website owner, this episode is brimming with priceless insights and battle-proven strategies to boost your ad revenue and broaden your financial horizons.

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Replay the LIVE Webinar

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Q&A With The Panelists

These are each of the questions that were asked during the Q&A portion of the webinar. The answers are provided by the panelists. Have a question about this episode you'd like addressed? Reach out to!

Question 1

Does grouping blocks increase your DOM? Is it adding more code?

Answered Live.

Question 2

Do I need to group blocks on a post-by-post basis? I’m which case should I do it even before having ads if that’s something I want to do in the future?

Answered Live.

Question 3

Regarding Amazon affiliate disclaimer – on my site, I have the statement “This post may contain affiliate links” at the top. I received a general email addressed to Amazon Associates that says, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” I’m a member of more than one affiliate programs. What should the disclaimer say?

Answered Live.

Question 4

If you link to your own recipe in the ingredients list in the recipe card, e.g., for a sauce, is that not no-follow?

Answered Live.

Question 5

When grouping blocks, does that affect your “contract” with Raptive? Because Raptive guarantees more ad income when you switch to them, but the amount of ads should remain the same as what you had with Mediavine or they won’t be able to guarantee it.

Answered Live.

Question 6

Any insight into whether sponsored blog posts (say <10-15% of what you post) have a negative impact on how Google sees your entire site?

Answered Live.

Question 7

Where do we find the button to turn off being a beta tester on the Mediavine site?

Answered Live.

Question 8

Has the October core update finished rolling out?

Answered Live.

Question 9

I only link to Amazon in the recipe card. So, I moved the Amazon disclosure to above the equipment and ingredient links, i.e., right before the links. Is that not acceptable?

Answered Live.

Question 10

What are your thoughts on SheMedia before qualifying for Mediavine?

Answered Live.

Question 11

Is it not enough to have a disclosure at the top and bottom of the page? Do I need to have something like {affiiate link} after each and every link?

Answered Live.

Question 12

Do we need to include (an affiliate link) after every affiliate link in a post? Or is a statement at the top of the post sufficient? Amazon recently sent out an email that was slightly ambiguous on this.

Answered Live.

Question 13

When grouping blocks, does this impact the ad density at every 2/3 paragraphs? Meaning does a group equal a paragraph when ads are being inserted?

Answered Live.

Question 14

Is it good to enable Optimize sticky sidebar CLS in Mediavine?

Answered Live.

Question 15

Speaking of past webinars, you recommended the “Modify date plugin” when making updates. the plugin hasn’t been updated in a year. is it still recommended?

Answered Live.

Question 16

What number of sessions per month would bring in that $10k/month?

Answered Live.

Question 17

Does the 10k traffic before monetization guideline apply to affiliate income as well as ads (i.e. should we have affiliate links before hitting 10k)?

Answered Live.

Question 18

Have you seen many or any bloggers managing their own advertisers and seeking advertisers who are closely affiliated with their content and/or mission? Are there any guidelines for this? Is it a huge, time-consuming job?

Answered Live.

Question 19

How long after publishing a new piece of content should you wait before doing a content audit on it?

Answered Live.

Question 20

What’s the best way to find affiliate programs that can replace Amazon links?

Answered Live.

Question 21

What are large format ads in Raptive and should they be enabled? Also, should there be a close button on sticky footer ads?

Answered Live.

Question 22

Are there higher-tier ad networks apart from Mediavine and Raptive or are they the top tier in the food blogging niche?

Answered Live.

Resources & Links

Below are links to all tools, articles, and other resources mentioned in this webinar:

  • Limit Modify Date plugin – This plugin adds a checkbox to the Publish box, “Don’t update the modified date”. When checked, saving your post does not update the post-modified date.
  • Google – October 2023 Core update
  • Levanta – is an Amazon Affiliate Marketing platform that helps Sellers build partnership
  • Impact – Trusted Affiliate Marketing Platform. 
  • Ad Sanity – A unifying tool that turns your WordPress website into an ad server without getting in the way of your content.
  • MediaVine – Helps content creators build sustainable businesses with full-service digital advertising technology, management and products.
  • Raptive – (formerly AdThrive) A new kind of company transforming creators into global brands and lasting businesses.
  • – Subscribe Enhancements for Grow: Category Targeting and Pop-Ups. This is supposed to be “Google-Friendly.”
  • Klear – A powerful and easy-to-use influencer marketing platform that handles even the most advanced needs in a delightful and intelligent way.
  • Afluencer – Launch and scale your influencer marketing efforts with our A-List influencer partners.  
  • TapInfluence – The platform offers in-depth data points and insights on content creation, audience demographics, engagement metrics, and more,
  • Search Engine Journal – Google Warning on Guest Posting For Links
  • NerdPress article – Affiliate Links Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Federal Register – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising 
  • FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking (Affiliate Network)
  • Everflow – Scale your affiliates with a Partner Marketing Platform


Melissa Rice (00:00:01):
All right, let’s kick things off, okay? Okay. Okay. Thanks for joining us for our 38th episode of SEO for Bloggers. Today we’ll be chatting about the world of successful display ads and exploring exciting income sources, so no matter where you are in your blogging journey, this episode is packed with valuable insights to supercharge your ad revenue and broaden your financial horizons. We’ve got our season’s experts as always joining us. Casey Markee of Media Wyse, Arsen Rabinovich of TopHatRank, Andrew Wilder of NerdPress, and also here with us is Adam Reamer who’s not just a pro but a true virtuoso in the digital marketing world. Adam, would you like to say hi to our attendees and share a little bit about what you specialize in?

Adam Riemer (00:00:44):
Hi attendees. I specialize in picking out good wines. No, so I’ve been doing affiliate marketing SEO and digital strategy with a focus on monetization and database decisions for about 20 years. Since the mid to late ’90s, my first websites went up. I realized I kind of like working with clients, so I sort of folded my blogs and my website, but I keep building new ones then I just give them away or burn them down so that I don’t mess up other clients. And just always testing stuff.

Melissa Rice (00:01:20):
Very cool. All right, well, thank you again for joining us. I just have a couple reminders as always, guys. We’ll have the Q&A at the end, so feel free to drop any of your questions in there. And if you haven’t already, we’d love to know where you’re tuning in from. And without further ado, let us get started. Casey, just throwing the ball straight into your court, Google helpful content update and ads. If somebody’s site was hit by this update, should they stop using ads or downsize on them? Thoughts.

Casey Markee (00:01:53):
Well, they definitely shouldn’t stop using ads. They might want to take a close look at how effective their ads are on their overall quality of the site. It’s not just myself, but we have had multiple SEOs run a lot of studies over the last several weeks looking at thousands of affected sites and there seems to be a clear component regarding excessive ads and you getting hit by the HCU update. If you’re looking at your site and you’re realizing, man, that’s a lot of ads, then imagine what your competitors, or not even your competitors, but your users are looking at when they’re looking at your site. There are very specific ad units that we tend not to recommend and those are anything that loads above the fold. We don’t recommend intrusive interstitial ads. Basically we call those Google vignette ads, which cover the entire page, those activate between pages. We tend to want to stay away from anything that’s incredibly intrusive.

If I’m navigating down the page and I am bombarded right and left, Adam, I’m always thinking of that airplane. Remember the airplane scene where he is walking through the airport and he’s punching everyone to get them out of their way? It’s like ads. Get the interstitial out of the way, get the religious guy out of my way. It’s the same thing with your ads. We need to make sure that we have a clean experience when possible, and we’ve been seeing that. If you’re running very heavy ads, we’re talking 30%, sometimes 28%, maybe you have got literally every possible ad unit you can enabled on your site, that might not have been the best approach. Now, ad companies will tell you that they’re not related, but what else are they going to say? So let’s just really optimize for the user whenever we can and case by case basis. If you think that you have too many ads, dial them back a little bit ’cause we really want to make sure that when Google recalls you, you’re giving them the best view of your content possible.

Melissa Rice (00:03:46):
Very cool. Andrew, should bloggers limit ads on the page until they reach a number of page views?

Andrew Wilder (00:03:56):
I don’t know if the guidance really has much of a difference than what Casey just said. I mean, if you’re thinking of your users, you’re thinking of your users. I think if you’ve got 5,000 page views a month, it’s probably not worth bothering to put ads on your site, right? Because it’s not going to bring in much money. It might make you five or 10 bucks a month. So why get them in the way? Having ads on the page is a less than perfect user experience. I mean, it’s a necessary evil if you want to make money maybe, but if you want to have the absolute best user experience, you’re not going to run any ads at all. So if you want to accelerate your growth and get more and more traffic so you can get into a premium ad network that maybe runs better ads instead of those heinous photos of weird body parts, then just be willing to forego the 10 or 20 bucks a month a little earlier on to try to help accelerate your growth.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:04:50):
I don’t know if you guys are only able to see the person that’s talking or all of us, but Adam’s face is classic. I love it.

Andrew Wilder (00:04:57):
Just one simple trick. One simple trick. That’s all you need.

Melissa Rice (00:05:03):
Casey, what’s the recommended limit for total number of in-content ads per page for mobile, and for desktop?

Casey Markee (00:05:11):
Wait, am I going to be the first one to say it?

Melissa Rice (00:05:14):
Yes, you are.

Casey Markee (00:05:15):
This is more of an it depends.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:05:17):

Casey Markee (00:05:21):
You have the option of setting up ads every two or three paragraphs in most cases. I would tell bloggers right now listening that if you were impacted at all by any of the recent updates and you had your ads displayed at every two, then I would immediately lower that to three. That is just me. That’s what I would do. I would also make sure that you’re counting your ads, specifically if we find that as I navigate down the page… Eye test. If I’m counting 15 ads on my mobile device before I get to the recipe cards, that is a lot of ads. Now, you can control your ads a little bit by learning to group blocks and we’ve talked about this previously and it’s amazing how many times I’ll have an audit and I will show live to bloggers how they can group various elements here which will incredibly improve readability, and that’s something you need to think about if you’re looking on your page and I noticed that I’ve got two ads popping in in the middle of my ingredient section, that’s not great for users.

Group the ingredient section so that you can control where that ad falls in, whether it’s above the ingredient section or below it. At least then we’ve improved the readability a little bit and in turn hopefully improve the time on site that our users are spending on our pages. So this is an eye test thing. I wouldn’t say you got to do this, you got to do this. This is an eye test thing based upon your current ad placements and density. If it looks like too many ads to you, regardless of whether that’s the “recommended limit” from your ad company, maybe you need to make some changes.

Melissa Rice (00:06:57):
Arsen, are ads on bloggers’ home pages okay if they’re below the fold? And this is my first question, I’ll have a follow-up.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:07:05):
Yeah, it’s fine. Keep in mind that not everybody’s going to start their experience on your homepage and people search for stuff they’re landing internally, but it’s still a page, it still gets a lot of… So you will have traffic, direct traffic from your email newsletters, from your socials. Definitely monetize that page. Just don’t go really heavy above the fold with your ads and place somewhere it matters and don’t overdo it.

Melissa Rice (00:07:29):
Solid advice. How do you feel about ads in the recipe card?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:07:33):
They’re fine. You should have them. I mean, just like with everything else, don’t overdo it. It’s fine. You can have an ad in the recipe card.

Melissa Rice (00:07:40):
Quickly Sally has a question. “Define the fold,” she said,” What’s that?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:07:45):
Basically, as the screen loads, what’s appearing on the screen before you scroll, so above the fold.

Adam Riemer (00:07:52):
It’s an old newspaper term.

Melissa Rice (00:07:55):
Adam, are you ready?

Casey Markee (00:07:56):
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Newspapers for those of you on the call, don’t recommend them. They’re written tablets made of ink and occasionally you’ll still see them in the wild. So we collect those at the market house whenever we can.

Melissa Rice (00:08:11):
Yeah, I love the feel of a good newspaper, that inky-finger feel. Adam, what would you recommend as the ad frequency percentage for both mobile and desktop? Any specific?

Adam Riemer (00:08:24):
I wouldn’t ever even worry about that. With our monetization strategies, we actually don’t recommend using the ad networks. If you do want to, reduce it as much as possible. Instead, what I do is we go on the space based on user intent and based on profitability. So instead of actually placing AdThrive or Mediavine or any of these other platforms in, I would use, I don’t know if they still exist, but AdRotator or AdSanity, which are free options before you could do a custom-built system pretty affordably. And what you would do is you would say, okay, this is where a user’s been pre-sold on a product or on a service. This is where they’re just here for impressions. There’s going to be no clicks to sell your CPM space. There’s a lot of stopping and engagement here, so if you could rotate things in based on IP address based on where they are, you can actually get a lot more clicks and do a cost-per-click or cost-per-download ad.

And that’s going to make you a lot more money in the log run because you’re engaging with the user based on their experience. It’s also going to cut down on the ad substantially and it’s going to provide a more relevant experience. You’re going to lose out on the tons and tons of cost per thousand ads, but it’s the same exact ad showing over and over again throughout your site and it’s just an ugly experience. And don’t forget to go desktop and mobile when you’re looking at the ad experience ’cause it does change. If I’m seeing more than one or two ads each thumb scroll up when I’m going down your post, you have too many and you don’t deserve any traffic. You don’t deserve to have a reader base.

Melissa Rice (00:09:53):
Yeah. I feel like that-

Arsen Rabinovich (00:09:54):
Actually, sorry, really quick. Sorry. Sorry, derail, Melissa. Yesterday we had a consultation call with someone and we looked at their ads on their desktop which were appearing every paragraph, the space between every paragraph and then when we looked at it on mobile, completely different experience. The mobile experience was amazing, but the desktop was horrible. So definitely look at both.

Casey Markee (00:10:16):
And that’s very common. That’s very common. People tend to run more ads on the desktop than they might necessarily on the mobile because they can get away with the experience on desktop a little bit more, but it is truly horrendous. Understand that the desktop is still a ranking factor with regards to page speed and lots of other metrics. So I certainly wouldn’t want to choose one over the other because I think one is safer, so to speak.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:10:40):

Melissa Rice (00:10:41):
You’re saying cater-

Adam Riemer (00:10:43):
Can I say one other thing real quick? If you’re just going to churn and burn a site or you just need a short burst of money, that’s when I would go with one of the ad networks and I would probably personally choose Mediavine over the others. Just they seem to care the most about their bloggers and their users just from my personal experience with them. They actually kind of have a heart and we aren’t being paid and I have no relationship with them.

Melissa Rice (00:11:08):
Okay. Casey, I’m going to fire off a couple of questions, starting-

Casey Markee (00:11:13):

Melissa Rice (00:11:14):
Okay, let’s go, rapid fire. Is limiting ads in roundup posts a good practice?

Casey Markee (00:11:20):
I would say that roundup posts would just be like any other page. I would say if it looks like too many ads to you, it probably is. That’s it. I wouldn’t say that limiting ads in a roundup is necessary per se, other than like Arsen mentioned, I would say that anytime you saw something where it was a ad every paragraph, probably cause for concern roundup or not.

Melissa Rice (00:11:45):
Okay. And the next question, grouping blocks, do or don’t?

Casey Markee (00:11:48):
Definitely do. We talked about that briefly just a couple minutes ago. The ability to group blocks provides you a lot more freedom and control over the overall and bottom-line readability of your pages. If you know there are very specific choke points on your site where you know people are going to stop, make sure that they can see that in the full view of the mobile device. Maybe make sure that like the ingredient section specifically, that we’ve grouped that ingredient section so that we don’t have any two or three ads breaking that up. Same way with FAQs. We don’t want to have any ads popping in there. Same way with your individual step-by-step, we want to make sure that we don’t have a lot of ads breaking that up to your detriment on mobile.

Melissa Rice (00:12:30):
Okay. Andrew, any tips on how to improve site speed while still having ads?

Andrew Wilder (00:12:37):
Yeah. So I think most of you are probably with Mediavine or Raptive. They’re both pretty good about site speed, and I’m going to actually instead of site speed, I’ll say Core Web Vitals, so that’s site speed and also layout shifts. So two different problems. Layout shifts aren’t speed, they’re user experience, but ads can cause a lot of problems with layout shift. So first thing you want to do, don’t have any ads above the fold. I’m going to reiterate that one again, that makes a big difference. And then use a good ad network that focuses on speed. So the two I just mentioned are good about that. There are others that are not. The smaller ad networks tend to not optimize for speed the same way. I’ll call out Ezoic for causing lots of speed problems. They claim they do lots of speed stuff and I’ve only seen problems with their setup.

Casey Markee (00:13:24):
I believe that you have to pay an additional fee still.

Andrew Wilder (00:13:27):
Oh, even better.

Casey Markee (00:13:28):
I think you have to pay an additional fee for them to have “the optimization” in effect. So good times there.

Andrew Wilder (00:13:32):
Yeah, so using a good ad network that focuses on speed. And in terms of layout shifts, you want to make sure that the right amount of space is being reserved for the ad so you don’t hold a 728 by 90 and then load a 350-tall ad and push everything down. So you can either have your ad network limit what’s going to go in that spot or make sure they’re reserving enough space no matter what.

Melissa Rice (00:13:53):
Smart. Arsen, are Amazon affiliate links and the recipe card okay to keep or should they be removed?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:14:01):
You can keep them as long as they are no follow. Make them no follow, but you can keep them in there. Absolutely.

Melissa Rice (00:14:09):
Okay. Adam, is the Mediavine Grow subscriber email popup okay to keep or should bloggers remove that? Users are reporting, it doesn’t provide an option to act between pages.

Adam Riemer (00:14:22):
So that goes back to the user experience, and we’ll prefer OptinMonster over the others just because you get a lot of control over it. As far as the plugin goes, that’s going to go, how fast is it going to slow your site down? And can you control when it fires? So do you actually track? When someone scrolls down and when they’ve absorbed your content, after they’ve done that, they may have a reason to actually want more content from you and you want to pop it. If it’s just going to pop immediately and you don’t have the control over it or if you can’t control, I only want it to pop after the person’s gone past line 2000 of my code base, then it’s probably not a good popup. Another thing you can do is you can monetize after. So after somebody opts in, what happens? Does it disappear or does it say thank you?

You can put ads there, you can do a co-branded thing with another blogger and you could really start to grow your blog that way just by thinking about a smart use of the space on the popup. If Mediavine doesn’t give you that control, it’s probably not a good plugin for your actual site because you’re not making as much money. You don’t control the own website experience and you’re not able to work with other bloggers to grow each other, you’ve opted into mine. Here’s three other really good newsletters in the same need but don’t compete.

Melissa Rice (00:15:34):
Okay. Casey, what are your opinions about the Mediavine Universal Player?

Casey Markee (00:15:41):
It’s good. It’s very good. As a matter of fact, when we talk about there are vehicles that you can use to make the most with regards to RPM, that’s one of them. Video is probably the highest RPM unit they offer. The thing about the video player specifically is they did make some changes. Let me see here. Let me see if I can actually find it here. Yeah, what happened was that Mediavine took the correct decision to disable auto-play in stream options back in February of this year, so that improved to me the bottom-line functionality of the Universal Player considerably. It can be annoying to users, but it really monetizes well. It doesn’t require you to upload any video content at all of your own, so that to me is a huge selling point. That means that if you sign up for Mediavine and you don’t have your own video content, you’re still going to get the benefit of using video to monetize effectively right from the get-go.

Now, by contrast, if you were to use the Mediavine video player, it will run pre-roll video ads before your own video content that you have uploaded to the dashboard. But just like with the Universal Player, it’s good and I would recommend that you would use both if at all possible.

Melissa Rice (00:16:52):
Okay, sounds good. Adam, I know you mentioned earlier one of your favorite ad agencies, but do you have some tips for working with them? Any ad agency in general?

Adam Riemer (00:17:02):
Just make sure that you can control your website, they can’t tell you what to do with it and you control your code base. If anyone tries to tell you different, it’s the same as an affiliate manager telling you you have to post a link here, you have to have content about this. No, it’s your website, you own it. They do not get to dictate what you do.

Melissa Rice (00:17:21):
You might not always know best. Casey, is there a strategy for increasing RPMs and do you have any insight into adapting to the no cookies and AI, SGE, et cetera going forward?

Casey Markee (00:17:36):
Let’s see here. Did I have that written down? What number is that?

Melissa Rice (00:17:44):
Number 12.

Casey Markee (00:17:44):
Number 12?

Andrew Wilder (00:17:45):
You mean the question that you were just asked totally on the fly, Casey or no?

Casey Markee (00:17:54):
Yeah, that one. That’s a good question. We talked about this earlier today and usually you have to think of kind of a threefold process for increasing RPMs, and this could be for any advertiser on the call or off, is you have to look at three things. Your first and overriding goal is to improve content quality and then we’re looking at eliminating technical issues, and then most importantly, we’re looking at choosing UX whenever possible over ad units. When we choose those things, RPMs are going to take care of themselves. I am always shocked when we do audits and we see that. People always ask me, well, I don’t understand why this site has an RPM of 78 and I’m in the same niche and I have an RRPM of 28. Well, I tell you what, if I could answer that question correctly every time, I would be a multimillionaire, not just a thousandaire like I am now. But the issue is that it just depends on a lot of factors including the site setup. I know I said it. Drink today.

But our goal here is really to focus on making sure that you’re providing the best experience you can for your users. For some sites, they can cut their ads by 20 to 25% and their RPMs will go up considerably. When you take control of your sites and you provide the best UX you can, that’s how we get the best RPM returns. For example, do not allow Mediavine to take over your jump buttons. That’s called their jump-to arrival unit. They’ll give you some song and dance about how it increases RPMs. Guys, it doesn’t. We’ve been turning them off for years on thousands of sites and we’ve never had happier site owners. Nothing makes someone more upset than clicking a jump-to button thinking they’re going to go to your recipe card and you send them to an ad. That’s not someone who’s going to be a fan of yours. Turn it off and you’re going to find that you’re going to have longer on-time visits overall.

That’s just one of many things that you need to be doing when you put the customer first over your ad company, and that’s how we increase RPMs.

Melissa Rice (00:19:50):
I feel like we had an opportunity to fit in more spooky puns in this episode. No jump scares guys.

Casey Markee (00:19:57):
Well, and I see Nisha had a good one here. Mediavine told me to collapse my Feast jump menu. Any thoughts? Yeah, tell them to pound sand. That is the worst advice you can possibly give.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:20:05):
Kick rocks.

Casey Markee (00:20:06):
We do not collapse table of contents. We do not use jump links. When you collapse table of contents, you’re basically eliminating the ability of anyone to see it. Why would you do that? You might as well just remove it from the whole page. Whenever we meet the needs of the user, we’re going to be more successful, so please do that always. I can assure you, the ad income you save will be your own.

Melissa Rice (00:20:31):
Awesome. Moving on, Andrew, are sponsored text links ever a good idea in today’s blogging world?

Andrew Wilder (00:20:39):
It depends. How much are they paying? I didn’t even realize sponsored text links were actually still a thing. I’d say if it fits in your content and it meets the needs of your users and it’s beneficial that way, sure, go for it. Just make sure you put a no-follow or a sponsored tag on it.

Melissa Rice (00:20:57):
Okay, awesome. I just want to comment here back to one of our attendees. Please add to Q&A. Okay, so moving on Arsen, can you please share with us how video impacts ad income?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:21:12):
It impacts it very well. I didn’t know the answer to this question and Casey gave me an answer. He wrote, video pay very well. So CPMs are going to go up and down based on time of year, but video ads can easily add 15 to 30% to your overall RPM. They can’t be avoided by bloggers looking to monetize effectively. Do it.

Melissa Rice (00:21:38):
You read that like you were on an audition.

Casey Markee (00:21:41):
Right. He did so well. I don’t care what they say about him English not being his first language.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:21:48):
Who’s they? Who’s they?

Casey Markee (00:21:49):
Well, mostly me, but what they say about you English not being your first language, it’s okay man. It’s good. It’s all right. It doesn’t show.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:22:00):
Great. The accent doesn’t come out frequently, no.

Melissa Rice (00:22:03):
I’m on enough calls with Arsen that I hear it. I hear it. It’s there.

Casey Markee (00:22:06):
I believe it. I believe it.

Melissa Rice (00:22:06):

Arsen Rabinovich (00:22:06):
Me again?

Melissa Rice (00:22:13):
Yeah. Wait. Oh no, you’re right. Sorry!

Arsen Rabinovich (00:22:15):
Adam. It’s similar. We’re both very good-looking.

Melissa Rice (00:22:19):
I get too excited about roasting you. Adam, other than display ads and affiliate income, what would be the best next place to start to diversify income for bloggers, especially for those who are just starting out?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:22:31):
Good question.

Adam Riemer (00:22:33):
Other platforms that people can’t take from you. So there’s things like you can sell co-sponsorship, you can do branded giveaways, you can host contests where you are representing five or six brands and they’re doing a giveaway. Each of them have to pay a fee. You can also sell sponsorships on your email list. You can sell in between spaces there. You can sell a lot of different ad spaces and a lot of sponsorships and ad sales. They just count really well if you have an engaged audience and are constantly building up the audience. So look at building your email list. If your audience demographic goes younger, build up an SMS list. Just look up the different items you have and don’t forget about your no index pages.

Melissa Rice (00:23:16):
Okay. And also to you Adam, what alternative methods such as placement and locations can be considered for monetizing content effectively without overwhelming it?

Adam Riemer (00:23:26):
So whenever someone opts in or engages with your site, what happens after? So I mentioned the email opt-in earlier. You’ll normally say thank you or you just leave it there, have it redirect and show ads right there. It’s a couple of extra impressions inside your author box. If there’s things you’ve mentioned regularly through your site, whether it is directly relevant, put a banner in that author box right there because that’s where if someone reads it, they’re going to really go and convert well off of an affiliate link because it has your trust and your authority put on it. That was one of my highest converting spaces on all of my blogs, whether it was Broadway Cooking or I mean, most of the sites that I ran. My wedding site would crush it there with wedding favors. It really depends on what the user is going to be there for.

Look at the top of your site, nobody’s actually going to really engage with ads, so that’s your CPMs. The middle section, you might get some clicks, lots of app downloads there. And just be really smart with who you’re running. If you’re running coupon sites or you’re running cashback sites or browsers, extensions to inject coupon codes and you’re also trying to make money as an affiliate, guess what? Those sites make their money off of affiliate links and if you’re getting your audience to download a browser extension or you’re sending them to a coupon site, you just lost your click and you just lost your affiliate commissions for life because you’re going to send someone to that merchant’s website. That browser extension’s also going to be in the program. Once the person’s ready to check out, the browser extension sets their affiliate tracking, you get replaced. So you might’ve made five or 10 bucks on a download for it, but you lost hundreds of dollars if not tens of thousands of dollars in the lifetime value of your loyal reader.

Melissa Rice (00:25:04):

Adam Riemer (00:25:04):
So just be smart with what you do.

Melissa Rice (00:25:06):
Yeah. Andrew, what is the setting in Mediavine that most people miss or just set it wrong?

Andrew Wilder (00:25:15):
So my go-to for this is the jump-to recipe arrival unit, which Casey mentioned earlier and I actually saw a question go by in the chat, that’s not the jump-to recipe button. You should definitely have a jump-to recipe button at the top. What we’re talking about here is the “arrival unit” where Mediavine basically hijacks that button and instead of going to the recipe, it scrolls you down on an animated scroll and stops above the recipe where an ad is and the recipe is usually just barely visible or not visible at all below it. So users are very confused. They don’t understand that they need to keep scrolling down to see the recipe. It’s a really horrible user experience. It’s bad for accessibility. So if you have the jump-to recipe arrival unit, turn that off. And the other thing is I’d recommend that you also toggle off the very first setting in the top of your Mediavine account of turn on new features automatically, turn that off.

You don’t want to be a beta tester on your site on a production site. So if the feature’s great, opt-in when you’re ready, but you don’t want them to just randomly turn on a feature. This kind of blew up a couple of years ago when they turned on a feature that did not go so well and then they enabled this toggle to give you a little more control. So you should take that control and be deliberate about all the choices you’re making.

Melissa Rice (00:26:29):
Awesome. Casey, last question till we kind of open up the discussion and then move to QA. We talked a lot about advertising agencies, but do you have some options for alternative revenue sources for bloggers and what they should look into with all your experience?

Casey Markee (00:26:47):
Well, we’re seeing a big shift away from user-specific data because of the cookieless world and that means that ad targeting is going to decrease, and of course with that is the threat of decreased RPMs, which is a real and valid threat for 2024 and beyond. I think we’re going to start to see, and Adam can talk about this too, we might see an increase in contextual advertising, which is so funny because we are thinking of things like GumGum or Outbrain or Taboola and sometimes the contextual options that they provide for related content are pretty terrible. But then again, that’s not something that a lot of food and lifestyle bloggers have a lot of experience with. That’s still something that might start to increase dramatically in 2024 because you can at least niche theme that content, especially if we lose a lot of first-party data.

So I think you might see a big boost in 2024 with an embracing of contextual advertising and I also think that sponsored and brand work is going to take off considerably. I would say anyone who’s looking to maybe transition or broaden their appeal, start looking at networks like TapInfluence. Klear is another one, with a K, that’s K-L-E-A-R. Also there’s a really cool one called Afluencer, that’s Lots of new ones have come on the stage over the last year or so, and I know that a lot of you on the call have not heard of them so there’s lots of opportunities there. Their goal is to connect influencers with known brands and you are all influencers on this call. It’s just a matter of you finding the right brand relationship to make it work for you. And it’s interesting because people always come to me and they ask, well, I need to make more money, but then I say, “Are you doing brand advertisements? Are you just running ads?”

No, I don’t like to do sponsored posts. Then you’re not going to make more money. One of the things you have to determine is what your love and hate level is for your content. It’s okay to do sponsored work and then you pick and choose who those sponsors are. I think it’s an untapped revenue stream for most bloggers and people who’ve done it are always surprised at the return. You could easily make a mortgage payment a month just on sponsored content. And there’s substantially more sponsored content out there than there are sites willing to do it, so that’s an opportunity that many of you may want to prioritize in 2024 and beyond.

Melissa Rice (00:29:25):
Awesome. Arsen, do you have any input in this? I know we talk sometimes on calls. I know you do, bro.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:29:37):
Casey covered it. I really don’t have much on this. The important thing, and we talked about this earlier, is the amount of ads that we’re seeing. We’ve been talking about this since I think 2019 where we did our study from that November 2019 update, where sites with heavy ads were hit and we’ve been talking about this since then and it’s just coming back and kicking everybody’s butt right now. So definitely look into that.

Melissa Rice (00:30:09):
We’ll move into Q&A. We have quite a few questions. We’ll start from top-ranked or voted rather. So Tammy asks, it’s a question regarding Amazon affiliate disclaimer. “On my site, I have the statement, this post may contain affiliate links at the top. I received a general email addressed to Amazon Associates that says as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases. I’m a member of more than one affiliate programs. What should the disclaimer say?”

Andrew Wilder (00:30:39):
I want to take this one because we literally just published a blog post on this this morning, so I’m going to drop a link in the chat. So we did a deep dive on what the FTC is requiring these days. And actually the FTC is saying that just saying this post may contain affiliate links is not clear enough because they think that users might not understand what affiliate links are. So that’s an interesting thing. So Amazon specifically requires this language that says as an Amazon Associate, “I earn…”, that’s a contractual agreement with Amazon. So that’s not a legal thing, that’s just something Amazon requires and I believe you can put that towards the bottom. It doesn’t have to be at the top of the post, but the FTC require… Do you have to put it at the top?

Adam Riemer (00:31:24):
Oh, yeah. And this is nothing new. That one that you said’s been around for more than 12 years on affiliate links. The FTC on July 29th, it actually updated it so that it’s now 80 pages of disclaimers. The new guidelines are 80 –

Casey Markee (00:31:38):
And I draw the line at 79 pages, I’m sorry I don’t put any more than 79 pages of disclaimers on my site.

Adam Riemer (00:31:45):
The really interesting thing about this is now they’re finding bloggers and content creators between $40,000 and $500,000 per occurrence and I know someone that got that already.

Andrew Wilder (00:31:55):
Wow. So the key is to be clear and conspicuous. That’s what they ask for. So you need to be upfront about your relationship with whatever that link is, and that’s not just affiliate links, it’s like a sponsored post or anything. Anything where there’s a benefit to you directly for putting that link or making a recommendation, it doesn’t even have to be a link. You have to be upfront and clearly and conspicuously say, hey, I got these pans for free, or KitchenAid gave me a whole new kitchen and I’m going to tell you all about it. You can work that in naturally. It doesn’t have to be a boilerplate language. I actually think that’s better because it’s more upfront with your readers and more transparent, but the key is to make it clear, conspicuous and it has to be close to the link. You can’t just put it in your footer because that’s not going to be seen before somebody sees the content.

Adam Riemer (00:32:41):
It actually goes a lot further than that too. They added more language in. So if you take photos later on, or if you do a video, so suppose I got this wine glass because I have a wine blog and I disclose that I got the wine glass in a video, but later on I’m sitting there doing a dinner, I put those wine glasses on the table. I have to redisclose again in that next piece of content or I am in full violation of the FTC. You have to keep track of everything you got for free. You have to keep track of what you were paid for and not paid for, and you have to redisclose in all future content as well or you are in violation. And if it’s video content, you have to do a verbal disclosure before the first type of sponsorship or ambassadorship goes. So just say it at the very beginning, it makes it easier and you have to do written below it and it has to be visible.

If you have your disclosure below the expand or read more on YouTube, for example, it’s no longer compliant if you have an affiliate link or a brand mention above it. It’s got to be there and perfectly visible. You can’t hide it. You can’t shrink it. You can’t use other language.

Melissa Rice (00:33:51):
Okay, it sounds busy.

Casey Markee (00:33:53):
Thank you, Adam. Very well done.

Melissa Rice (00:33:56):
I need a glass of wine after that.

Adam Riemer (00:33:59):
I just sit through a very long briefing and read all the anchor pages.

Melissa Rice (00:34:05):
All right, well I’m going to move on to Nisha’s question. She asked, and Arsen, I know that you covered this question a little bit earlier so maybe if you can answer. “If you link to your own recipe card and ingredients list in the recipe card example for a sauce, is that a no follow?”

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:23):
I’m not clear on the question. Are you talking about an anchor link, like something that drops you down to the recipe card?

Melissa Rice (00:34:28):
She wants to drop a link in the recipe card to another post, I think is what she said.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:36):
Is the post on your website or is it an external post?

Melissa Rice (00:34:39):
It’s of her sauce from another post.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:41):
Yeah, it should not be an internal no-follow. It should be a regular link.

Casey Markee (00:34:45):
We don’t no follow our own internal links.

Melissa Rice (00:34:46):
Okay, cool.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:34:48):

Melissa Rice (00:34:49):
Let’s answer and done. Okay. Mark’s got a question. When grouping blocks, does that affect your contract with Raptive, for example, for the number of ads that are served in your site when you switched from Mediavine because Raptive guarantees more ad income when you switched to them, but they should be the same ads as what you had in Mediavine or they won’t be able to guarantee it?

Andrew Wilder (00:35:16):
It depends.

Casey Markee (00:35:18):
That’s an it depends. I mean, what they’re saying is that if you make any changes to your pages, you’re absolving them of any non-performance of RPM. That’s what it reads to me. You have to determine whether or not you’re okay with the increased ads from Raptive breaking up all of your content or are you going to go in and group your content so you’ve improved readability and possibly give Raptive an ability to say, okay, hey, you did this so we don’t have to honor our RPM. I think it’s pretty chicken shit if you ask me, but that’s something that you’re going to have to talk specifically to Raptive about.

Melissa Rice (00:35:53):

Arsen Rabinovich (00:35:54):
Bad words.

Melissa Rice (00:35:58):
And Nisha had a follow-up question. “Does grouping blocks increase your DOM? Is it adding more code?”

Casey Markee (00:36:05):
It could, very minimal.

Andrew Wilder (00:36:07):
Yeah, slightly because I think it just wraps it in an-

Casey Markee (00:36:10):
It would be like bolding forwards. That’s how many extra dominoes it would add. I mean, honestly it’s nominal at the minimum.

Melissa Rice (00:36:21):
Okay. Wendy wants to know, do I need a group blocks on a post-by-post basis? In which case, should I do it even before having ads if that’s something I want to do in the future?

Casey Markee (00:36:33):
That’s very common. As a matter of fact, as part of my audits I tell everyone how to group ads even if they don’t have ads or I tell them how to use group blocks so that they can get into the habit of grouping what they want together now so that when they do run ads they don’t have to worry about any disruption in UX or visibility.

Melissa Rice (00:36:55):
Okay. Marjorie wanted to know really quick going back to the recipe card. “So I only link to Amazon in the recipe card.” She said, “I moved the Amazon disclosure to above the equipment and ingredients links so right before the links. Is that not acceptable?”

Adam Riemer (00:37:11):
Can I take that one?

Melissa Rice (00:37:12):
Repeat it? Sure. She says, “I only…” You want me to…

Adam Riemer (00:37:19):
Oh no, I was asking if I can answer.

Melissa Rice (00:37:19):
Oh, yeah.

Adam Riemer (00:37:20):
Oh, yeah. Sorry.

Melissa Rice (00:37:22):
Thank God. Sheesh.

Adam Riemer (00:37:25):
As long as the disclosures before the first type of sponsorship or affiliate link is there, but I wouldn’t actually recommend doing that. Part of the reviews update and part for Google if you want traffic and part of the actual user experience is to give multiple options. If all you’re doing is giving Amazon, you’re limiting the user and you’re also working against one of the new algorithms. There’s no telling when reviews will actually become part of the core algorithm or if it ever will, so you probably just want to give multiple options. Plus Amazon’s cookie life is awful, so look to see if there’s a better program, a better deal or a better experience. It’s also if people are printing the recipe cards versus saving it digitally, that link’s kind of useless in there because they’re not going to be able to click a piece of paper.

So what you could do is say, here’s where you can go visit it and show it on Amazon. Then at the bottom of your post say, here’s where you can actually find each of the tools and ingredients that may not be available local to you. You can buy on Amazon or you can support a small business here. That small business will probably give you a custom deal. They’ll probably treat you a lot better, have a longer cookie life and most important, match your audience demographics. If you have a very high end or a very budget savvy audience and Amazon’s going to be more expensive or Amazon’s going to have a horrible return policy, but you have a store that actually matches. Maybe it’s women 45 and older, or maybe it’s teenagers, then look for the store that has that audience demographic and you’re actually going to see an increase in your conversions through your affiliate links.

Melissa Rice (00:38:55):
I love that. I’ve got an anonymous question here. They say, “Any insight into whether sponsored blog posts, say, greater than 10-50% of what you post have a negative impact on how Google sees the entire site?”

Casey Markee (00:39:10):
Did you say 10-15% or 10-50%?

Melissa Rice (00:39:12):

Casey Markee (00:39:16):
It’s a big difference, so I would say that probably no. I mean, I have audited sites in the past where it seemed like every other post was sponsored and that was excessive. So it would make sense that if you got a site that is a majority of it is sponsored or affiliate content, your site is going to be treated different by Google. We’re seeing that in the HCU update that just happened. Some of the bigger sites that were hit had a significant amount of affiliate content and it was clear that the content was specifically written, hey, I know spoiler, to make money. So sometimes when we focus on making money first and not provide any useful resource to our users first, we can have a fallout in quality and that is certainly something to be aware of.

Melissa Rice (00:40:03):
Very good. Andrew, this one is specific to you. They asked, where do they find that button to turn off the beta tester on the Mediavine site?

Andrew Wilder (00:40:12):
It’s in your Mediavine dashboard. If you just go to ad settings, so the top of the very first main ad settings page, it just says turn on new features automatically and you can click disable.

Melissa Rice (00:40:26):
Okay, thank you. Amy asks, “Has the October court update finished rolling out?” Who am I looking at?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:34):

Melissa Rice (00:40:34):

Adam Riemer (00:40:35):
Yeah, they announced it last Sunday.

Melissa Rice (00:40:39):
They did? Okay, so any thoughts, or should we all be holding on tight?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:47):
We talked about this on the last webinar. You guys have our process for checking, we have other webinars. You can look through our history of webinars. We talked about what to do post updates so many times. You look at what kind of direction your keywords went for the post that you’re monitoring for your money earners. Try to understand what kind of drops and what needs to be done. Shifts during updates happen, you want things to settle in a little bit before you start making any decisions.

Melissa Rice (00:41:22):
Thanks for dropping that link, Casey. Pulling, copying, and pasting for our recap. Love it. Love it. Love it. Okay, next question from Anonymous, “What are your thoughts on SheMedia before qualifying for Mediavine?”

Casey Markee (00:41:39):
What was the question?

Melissa Rice (00:41:43):
What are your thoughts on SHE Media before qualifying for Mediavine?

Casey Markee (00:41:47):
There’s nothing wrong with SHE Media. As a matter of fact, we’ve been tracking this considerably. I started recommending bloggers who were close within five to 10,000, sometimes they were at 15 or 20, to just go ahead and monetize with SHE Media. SHE Media at least caress about your page speed. You’ll pass Core Web Vitals and they do not charge you for it so we’ve been able to pass, especially if you’re on Feast or some of the other sites, you’ll pass Core Web Vitals fine with SHE Media, but it’s just like with any other ad company they’re going to push some ads on you that you’re probably not going to want to run. But if you’re looking to just run the regular accepted ads and you’re okay making sure that maybe you stay around 22%, 24% on the ad density, you’re going to be fine and you will monetize and it will not stunt your growth. I’m a big believer that if you want to monetize, you should try to monetize as soon as you can.

That being said though, to me, less than 10,000 a month, I just never recommend monetization. It’s too soon. You really want to make sure that we’re building our traffic up more because the minute you add ads, it doesn’t matter how you add ads, you change the bottom line quality of your site. So if you can hold out on running ads as late as possible, but I understand that is a losing proposition for a lot of bloggers and you’ve got to show a profit soon as you can. So yeah, SHE Media is fine. I would not put my worst enemies on Ezoic, period. So take that as you want. Monumetric. Well, it’s not even Monumetric anymore. What is it now, Andrew? SHE Media, right? Monumetric is not SHE Media?

Andrew Wilder (00:43:26):
No, I thought they were different. I thought BlogHer became SHE Media.

Casey Markee (00:43:28):
That’s it. So Monumetric and Ezoic, no, absolutely not. If you’re going to go with someone, go with SHE Media as a stop gap and then get moved over to Mediavine and Raptive as soon as you can. There’s just a huge dropoff between those three.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:43:45):
Yeah, and we get asked this question a lot during our consultations and it’s just like Casey said, it’s you have to find that balance. If you can live without it, don’t run the ads. It is just going to kind of slow down your growth a little bit. If you need it, run it. I’ve rarely heard of people who have decent traffic staying with SHE Media. They usually move on to Mediavine or somewhere else.

Casey Markee (00:44:15):
So that’s a very good point, we’ve had two situations where we’ve had bloggers who were at 500,000 sessions a month and they really thought they were going to stay with SHE Media until we had them switch and they’re like, man, they just kicked themselves. They’re like, they had cost themselves a significant amount of money because they had been told by SHE Media that, oh yeah, we got you. You’re not going to make more, blah, blah, blah, but it’s just a difference in ad technology. So as soon as you can make the move, you should. Absolutely.

Melissa Rice (00:44:49):
Okay, Mark asked, and I dropped the link for our panelists in the chat. He’s got a guest post article from Search Engine Journal that he was wondering if anybody had thoughts on.

Adam Riemer (00:45:02):
A guest post article?

Melissa Rice (00:45:04):

Adam Riemer (00:45:05):
Well, this is from 2020, so I would probably ask why you’re linking to a 2020 article anyway. Guest posting is something that’s been outdated for years Mark. If you want a guest post you should, but it should be because you’re looking to get good traffic from it, not because you’re looking for any links.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:45:21):
Or it’s a branding exercise.

Adam Riemer (00:45:22):
Yeah, or it’s a branding exercise. But guest posting is very easy to do and everyone can do it, therefore it’s not a very valuable strategy.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:45:30):

Melissa Rice (00:45:32):
I think we already covered this, but it’s uploaded so maybe recap. “Do we need to include affiliate link after every affiliate link in a post or is a statement at the top of the post sufficient? Amazon recently sent out an email that was slightly ambiguous on this.”

Casey Markee (00:45:49):
I think they’re saying, do you have to put affiliate link next to every link? And I think the answer to that is no, you do not.

Melissa Rice (00:45:56):

Andrew Wilder (00:45:56):
However, if you bury an affiliate link in the middle of a post where you’ve got a whole long post about a bunch of stuff and you have to link to a Colander on Amazon where the context of link doesn’t give a clue that it’s an affiliate link, then it’s a good idea to highlight that. And the FTC has said putting affiliate link in parentheses is not sufficient. They want you to say paid link. They have a frequent asked question on that, and they were very specific that they don’t expect the average user to understand what affiliate means. It’s not so bad to say affiliate link, but it kind of sucks, it feels icky to say paid link.

Adam Riemer (00:46:29):
Paid link, yeah.

Andrew Wilder (00:46:30):
But that’s effectively what it is.

Melissa Rice (00:46:33):
That’s terrible. Okay.

Adam Riemer (00:46:34):
There’s the Q&A.

Andrew Wilder (00:46:35):
Yeah, it’s in that. Thank you.

Melissa Rice (00:46:36):
Thank you.

Andrew Wilder (00:46:37):
Actually Adam, I think you just shared that with just us or me.

Melissa Rice (00:46:41):
I’ll include it.

Andrew Wilder (00:46:42):
I got it. There we go.

Melissa Rice (00:46:45):
Next question is from Uma. “Is it good to enable optimize sticky sidebar CLS in Mediavine?” Andrew?

Andrew Wilder (00:46:53):
Yes. Anything that your ad network gives you to optimize for Core Web Vitals, turn it on. Absolutely.

Melissa Rice (00:46:59):
And she said she just noticed now it was never enabled.

Andrew Wilder (00:47:02):
Turn it on, Uma.

Melissa Rice (00:47:04):
Okay. No panic though, right?

Andrew Wilder (00:47:05):
Nope, not a panic.

Melissa Rice (00:47:08):
Just want to make sure she feels good about it. Nicole asks, “Speaking of past webinars, you recommended the modified date plugin when making updates. The plugin hasn’t been updated in a year, do you still recommend it?”

Casey Markee (00:47:19):
It probably still works.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:47:21):
And if it works, it works.

Casey Markee (00:47:24):
There’s also another one called limit modify date and that will also work. So you might want to look for that. They do the same thing.

Andrew Wilder (00:47:30):
That kind of functionality in WordPress hasn’t really changed at all, so there’s no reason.

Casey Markee (00:47:33):

Melissa Rice (00:47:34):
Okay. Next question is from, let’s see, Maureen. “Casey, what number of sessions per month would bring in that 10K a month?”

Casey Markee (00:47:45):
Couldn’t tell you.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:47:46):
We need an exact number, Casey. It depends.

Casey Markee (00:47:50):
As a matter of fact, was it 10,000 a month? Is that what they needed? What did they want? What’s the sessions they need to get to 10,000 a month? Is that what they wanted?

Melissa Rice (00:47:59):
Yeah, how many? What’s the number?

Casey Markee (00:48:03):
10,000 a month. You could do simple RPM calculation. If you’re at a $20 RPM, you’re looking at about 200,000. Was it right or is it two million, Andrew?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:13):
Are you asking us to do math on the spot?

Andrew Wilder (00:48:18):
I’ve been drinking a mule this whole time. What do you want from us?

Casey Markee (00:48:20):
I think it’s two million a month.

Melissa Rice (00:48:22):
Yes, we’ll go with that.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:26):
It’s not that high.

Casey Markee (00:48:28):
Is it 200,000?

Andrew Wilder (00:48:30):
Hold on. Come back to me, I’ll-

Casey Markee (00:48:31):
Do the math for me. Do $20 RPM because that’s an average. That’ll be a good one.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:38):
500,000 page views-

Casey Markee (00:48:40):
There you go. I knew it was something like that. So yeah, 500,000. There you go.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:42):
Now, if you’re getting an $80 RPM in Q4…

Casey Markee (00:48:45):
Then you’re doing pretty freaking well and you don’t need that.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:47):
Then you’re buying us drinks.

Casey Markee (00:48:48):

Melissa Rice (00:48:51):
Okay. Cynthia has a question. She says, “Just to understand, is it not enough to have a disclosure at the top or the bottom of the page? Do I need to have something like affiliate link?” But we answered this, right?

Casey Markee (00:49:01):
No, You’re good.

Andrew Wilder (00:49:04):
You don’t necessarily need it at the bottom.

Casey Markee (00:49:04):
No, you just don’t. You don’t. We don’t want to confuse you. And for 99% of people on this call, you do not need to worry about putting a link notification next to every one of your links. You’re fine.

Andrew Wilder (00:49:15):
But you have to disclose at the top if you’re going to.

Casey Markee (00:49:16):
Disclose at the top. Yeah.

Melissa Rice (00:49:18):
Okay. MaryLee wants to know, “When grouping blocks, does this impact the ad density at every two to three paragraphs? Meaning does a group equal paragraph when ads are being inserted?”

Andrew Wilder (00:49:33):
That’s a good one.

Casey Markee (00:49:34):
You’re changing the density. So if you’re grouping four blocks together, then it’s going to see the block and it’s going to count that in the next block before it inserts another ad. Supposedly that’s what we want. So if you have to think about it, it’s probably too difficult.

Andrew Wilder (00:49:48):
So the ad networks aren’t looking at every other paragraph or every third paragraph, what they’re doing is looking at ad density, percentage of ads on the page, right?

Casey Markee (00:49:56):
Correct. The longer the page, the more ads because the density Is going to change. Yeah.

Andrew Wilder (00:50:00):
So it’s not necessarily like a block equals a paragraph, it’s just saying don’t put an ad in here, so then it’s going to end up putting an ad at the next spot. So you can do that to basically get the ads to line up in places that are less obnoxious.

Casey Markee (00:50:13):
Exactly. If you’re confused by this, guys, look at your ads on mobile, take a look and see exactly where you would like. Yeah, it’s all good Adam, we saw that. And we’ll let Adam off the hook. Just so you guys know, the October core update is still pending. We’ve sent you a note over here on the sidebar. Usually core updates go from anywhere from 21 to 35 days, so we probably expect it will be complete sometime before the month is over. So just an FYI. Now, back to the ad density thing. Your goal should be to pull out your phones and take a look at how the experience is on your phone. If you’re looking down and you’re seeing, oh my gosh, I wish that this wasn’t broken up so much, be aggressive with the grouping of the blocks. That only helps you. We want to improve readability whenever we can. The ads will pop in at different locations. It’ll probably literally be the still same amount of ads, it’ll just be at different locations you have more control over.

Melissa Rice (00:51:10):
Okay. Casey, I think Shen here wanted to ask, “Does the 10K traffic before monetization guideline apply to affiliate income as well as ads? In other words, should we have affiliate links before hitting 10K?”

Casey Markee (00:51:25):
You should, absolutely. But again, as Adam will tell you, it’s pennies on the dollar. I mean, it’s still bad, right? Adam? I think they even lowered the payouts on Amazon this year again, so I don’t know what the-

Adam Riemer (00:51:38):
I actually stopped promoting Amazon links on my sites.

Casey Markee (00:51:40):
It’s pennies on the dollar. It’s very bad. I think it was at some time housewares were giving you 10 or 12% and now it’s five. So even if you start early, great. Just understand that it’s pennies on the dollar. You’ll be lucky to be able to buy yourself a Big Mac value meal at McDonald’s by the end of the month. So just FYI.

Adam Riemer (00:52:00):
Two quick side things though on that. One, if you have a post where it’s a general audience and it’s not really anything sold but people are clicking, look at what you can actually get them interested in and see if they’ll actually purchase in other product categories that are more expensive. But there’s also, there’s a newer system I just did a demo with them last week, I think it’s called like or something. And what’s interesting is they’re using the Amazon APIs to feed back to the merchant’s Amazon stores. And then that merchant, just like an affiliate network, can pay you a 20% or 40% commission. And what’s going to happen is you promote the product to their Amazon store specifically and you’re getting a standard, much higher rate commission. And I believe you can actually get a better cookie life too, but that one I’m not 100% sure on. I do know you can get 20 and 30 and 40% commissions on it. They’re very big on supplements right now in CBD, but there are some [inaudible 00:52:55] on there.

Casey Markee (00:52:54):
Makes sense, yeah.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:52:57):
Adam, what other networks or places like this can you recommend? Can you just do a rapid-fire off the top of your head?

Adam Riemer (00:53:03):
It’s just going to change on what your needs are. I mean, I always go to ShareASale first, but it’s really going to change. Years ago there was Red Galoshes which turned into Bride Deluxe and that was amazing for a wedding industry. Impact’s okay, they have great reporting. I’ve really liked Everflow for in-house programs and joining directly. I feel very confident in their tracking, whereas I don’t on other platforms. It’s just going to be where do you get responsive affiliate managers? Where’s the network actually going to talk to you if you’re not a top-tier affiliate, and who’s going to pay attention to you and answer your questions in an honest way versus giving you a runaround and admit when they were wrong? Not that I ever would.

Casey Markee (00:53:47):
That’s great.

Melissa Rice (00:53:50):
We’ve got Nicole asking, “How long after publishing a new piece of content should bloggers wait before doing a content audit on that new content?” Any thoughts?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:54:01):
Well, It depends. I actually have a few sweaters left. Should we just randomly pick someone and send them a sweater?

Casey Markee (00:54:10):

Arsen Rabinovich (00:54:11):
Yeah. Okay, on the next it depends, we’ll pick someone from the attendee list.

Melissa Rice (00:54:16):
Emma’s ready. I love it.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:54:21):
So look, it depends on how the post is performing. Always when we do our coaching, when we do our webinars and in live presentation, we say each post is going to grow at its own pace. You have to monitor, you have to understand how Google is treating that post, how Google is responding to your content, what kind of keywords are being mapped to this post, how close are you coming to your target keyword? Where are you leveling up? Are you leveling off in the top 20 or below top 20? And it takes different actions of what you can do when it comes to that. So there’s no, this is how long you should wait. You have to monitor and if it’s moving up, it’s moving up. If it’s plateauing, it’s plateauing. If it’s not doing anything, then something’s obviously wrong.

Melissa Rice (00:54:59):
Okay. Alpha asked, “What are large format ads in Raptive, and should they be enabled? Also, should there be a close button on sticky footer ads?”

Arsen Rabinovich (00:55:09):
Some say it depends.

Melissa Rice (00:55:12):
You can’t say that.

Casey Markee (00:55:13):
Both of those are fine, unfortunately. Yeah, that sounded like it depends. We don’t need to change the setting.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:55:19):
Oh, all right.

Andrew Wilder (00:55:21):
Alpha’s is asking what are the large-format ads?

Casey Markee (00:55:26):
I think they’re the leaderboard ads.

Andrew Wilder (00:55:28):

Casey Markee (00:55:30):
What do they call them in Mediavine? Do they call them just leaderboard?

Andrew Wilder (00:55:35):
I don’t know. If it’s above the fold, the answer is no.

Casey Markee (00:55:37):
Yeah, nothing above the fold, but I don’t believe that’s a default above the fold. Well, I’ll be honest with you, I know that if people of the ad networks that run the most above the fold ad, Raptive by far is the one that does that. So that would be something you’d want to check for sure. Yeah.

Andrew Wilder (00:55:50):
Amy just chimed in the chat and said it’s a different kind of ad.

Casey Markee (00:55:52):
Okay. Thank you, Amy.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:55:56):
Okay, Erin. Erin.

Melissa Rice (00:56:02):
Where’s Erin? Erin?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:56:05):
Raise your hand.

Melissa Rice (00:56:08):
Why is Erin raising their hand?

Arsen Rabinovich (00:56:11):
Yeah, that’s you. Perfect. All right. So we just need your address and you don’t get to pick a size, it’s whatever size I have, but we’ll send you a sweater.

Casey Markee (00:56:25):
You’re getting a XXL, Erin.

Melissa Rice (00:56:26):
No, I think it’ll be a large if I remember. I packed them up.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:56:30):
Right? Awesome. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Chat Melissa your address and we’ll get it out to you.

Andrew Wilder (00:56:37):
Oh, Nisha, feel better.

Melissa Rice (00:56:38):
I know. Nisha said she’s got 102 fever.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:56:42):
Well, you definitely don’t need a sweater with that fever.

Adam Riemer (00:56:45):
What if she has the chills, Arsen? Don’t be heartless.

Arsen Rabinovich (00:56:48):
She’ll be fine.

Adam Riemer (00:56:49):
You should include some matzah ball soup or something in there with it.

Andrew Wilder (00:56:52):
Hey, we’ve got one more minute. Do you want to rapid-fire these last three questions? Let’s go.

Casey Markee (00:56:56):
Yeah, go ahead.

Melissa Rice (00:56:57):
Okay, let’s upvote. “Are there higher tier ad networks apart from Mediavine and Raptive or are they the top tier in the food blogging niche?” I think they’re top-tier.

Casey Markee (00:57:10):
They’re top-tier. I mean, you can ask Adam, but I’m not aware of any other comparable. There was one a couple of years back, but they didn’t do very well. I’m not sure what happened to that, but they disappeared very quickly.

Melissa Rice (00:57:23):
We have to get some NerdPress socks, Andrew. Socks are good for fevers.

Andrew Wilder (00:57:28):
It’s time for me to order a new batch of NerdPress socks.

Melissa Rice (00:57:33):
Thank you for answering that by the way, Casey. Maureen wants to know, “Have you seen many or any bloggers managing their own advertisements or advertisers and seeking advertisers who are closely affiliated with their content and/or mission? Are there any guidelines for this? Is this a huge time-consuming job?” Yes, Andrew says it is.

Andrew Wilder (00:57:54):
About 10 years ago I started an ad network called Healthy Ads. It was a huge time-consuming job to get ethically aligned advertisers that actually had healthy food to advertising our network. Side note, I sold it to Gourmet Ads and they’re still running it.

Melissa Rice (00:58:11):

Arsen Rabinovich (00:58:12):

Casey Markee (00:58:13):
Good for you buddy. So Andrew’s telling you that he knows all about it so you can just pester him.

Andrew Wilder (00:58:20):
It’s a lot of work and you can do it. It’s the same work as really building sponsored content, right? You’ve got to get to know a brand, you’ve got to work with them, you’ve got to foster relationship, and then you’ve got to basically convince them to buy ad space or sponsored content or both. I’ve found it works best if you develop a whole package, just like in your media kit. When I had October Unprocessed, I would get sponsorship for that and I would do a whole package deal with Bob’s Red Mill for many years, and that was all about relationship building. Which is actually very satisfying and I really enjoyed it, but it is a lot of time and effort.

Melissa Rice (00:58:48):
All right, duly noted again. Last question. Again, I think we kind of touched on this with Adam, but what are the best ways to find affiliate programs that can replace Amazon links? Yeah, again.

Casey Markee (00:59:00):
Go ahead, Adam.

Adam Riemer (00:59:02):
What I would do is I would export all your products and then break it up by the post you’re actually referring them from. You can use a lot of different tools to track the outbound clicks, and then what I would do is I would line them up. I would take where does this fall as far as the price point goes on that niche? So if again, a wine glass and on average they go from $5-$20, but you’re selling the $15 glasses, what I would then do is I would look for the stores that have a $15 glass. I would then evaluate the stores. I’d write to the affiliate manager and see if they respond back. I’d ask them about their tracking, are you first party or third party? Just to see if they give you an honest answer. I’d look to make sure they have database and ITP compliance’s set up, and then what I’d do is I’d ask them for demographic breakdown of their website. From there, I would go into the website.

One, I’d type in the brand name plus the word coupons to see if those coupon sites are active affiliates. Two, I’d download browser extensions and see if it’s firing. Three, I’d go in and I’d see if they have a multiple payment system or software. Like when you’re checking an ad you’ll see, it’s do you want to do in payments? Those are also affiliates half the time. If they have any of these, you’re going to be losing part of your commissions because they have the ability to overwrite your commissions. I would also go into those coupon sites and I’d look for other influencers’ codes because if those influencers are affiliates in the program, you can go. If it’s Arsen, for example, you can see Arsen10 on the coupon site. All of a sudden Arsen10 has a review of that product or the brand, and an affiliate link there, that’s going to overwrite your commissions and you just lost all of your sales.

And then I just keep a tally of whichever one has the least amount of issues and the best audience match and price match. Last, look at the checkout flow and see do they offer a good money-back guarantee? Do they offer a good return policy? Is there free shipping? Those are all things that can influence how the conversion rate’s going to go. And just figure out which one’s going to be the best possible one to make you money. Then after that’s when you look at commissions and cookie life and everything.

Melissa Rice (01:01:00):

Casey Markee (01:01:01):
Fantastic. Thanks Adam. And you guys, Adam works on a all you have to do is send him wine, that’s it. Preferably really dark heavy reds and that’s going to give you 30 minutes of his time in many cases.

Adam Riemer (01:01:15):
Or cat memes.

Casey Markee (01:01:16):
Yeah, cat memes. Cat memes only gets you 15 minutes though.

Melissa Rice (01:01:25):
Adam, I love that for you. Adam, just in case people want to send you those boxes of wine, how do they get in touch with you or check out your services?

Adam Riemer (01:01:32):
Smoke signals.

Melissa Rice (01:01:35):
Smoke signals.

Adam Riemer (01:01:37):
So my blog is horrible, but it’s Everything’s broken in there. Everything you’ve heard of all of us say is wrong because I use it to interview people. All of our clients are word of mouth, so just

Melissa Rice (01:01:50):
Okay, great.

Arsen Rabinovich (01:01:52):
Wait, what services in your arsenal of services would be good for food bloggers?

Adam Riemer (01:02:01):
Selling backlinks.

Casey Markee (01:02:05):
You heard it here first, he said backlink builder right there.

Adam Riemer (01:02:09):
So what we do is we help you all monetize and when there’s a match for our clients who have affiliate programs, at that point I’m going to try to pitch you to join. It’s not going to be guaranteed. At some point in time, I will have a client that’s a match and hopefully if I helped you grow or I helped you make money, you’ll promote one of our clients. And I work with probably 8,000 or 9,000 bloggers every month.

Melissa Rice (01:02:33):
All right.

Adam Riemer (01:02:36):
And influencers.

Melissa Rice (01:02:40):
All right. Well guys, I feel so relieved. We got through all of our Q&A. We did great today. We’re only a couple of minutes out from the hour, but again, thank you, Adam for joining us. I hope you had a good time day drinking with the crew.

Casey Markee (01:02:52):

Melissa Rice (01:02:54):
And we will see everybody next month. And again, I know I already mentioned this earlier in the episode, but we’re going to have our recap from the summit a couple of weeks ago posted or it is posted. We’ll have the recap email going out later today with all of that information. So keep an eye out for it everyone, and thank you again for joining us as always.

Arsen Rabinovich (01:03:16):
Bye, everyone.

Adam Riemer (01:03:17):
Happy Halloween everyone.


About The Panelists

Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer is a digital marketing strategist, award-winning affiliate manager, keynote speaker, and growth consultant. He has been helping content creators monetize and scale for two decades with unique insights and strategies from how not to lose money by joining the right affiliate program, and where to use which types of ads from CPM to CPC, and low-hanging fruit for monetization that enhances user experience.

Adam on X >>

Melissa Rice

Melissa, our webinar host, comes from sunny Los Angeles, CA. She is TopHatRank’s Client Success Manager; those who have chatted with her know how awesome she is. As she dives into the digital space, Melissa likes to discover new online marketing techniques and practices, UX design, and more.


Casey Markee

Speaker, writer, and trainer Casey Markee has been doing SEO for 20+ years, has conducted over 1000+ site audits, and has trained SEO teams on five continents through his consultancy Media Wyse. He believes bacon should be its own food group and likes long walks to the kitchen and back from his home office.

Casey on X >>

Andrew Wilder

Andrew Wilder is the founder of NerdPress, a digital agency that provides WordPress maintenance and support services for publishers and small businesses, placing an emphasis on site speed, stability, and security. He has been building, fixing, and maintaining websites since 1998, and has spoken on a wide variety of technical topics (in plain English!) at conferences such as WordCamp LAX, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Food & Wine, Techmunch, BlogHer, BlogHer Food, and Mediavine.

Andrew on X >>

Arsen Rabinovich

Digital Marketer, SEO, International Speaker, 2X Interactive Marketing Award Winner, Search Engine Land Award Winner. Founder @TopHatRank, a Los Angeles based marketing agency that specializes in innovative digital marketing techniques for modern brands of all sizes.

Arsen on X >>

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