Placing Your Brand Above Others

When submitting to directories, buying paid search ads, buying display ads, or ranking in organic search a small company with a smart marketer can seem like it is much more powerful and much more authoritative than it is. But some webmasters undermine their authority by not considering how displaying ads on their own site could affect the perception of quality.

Which Directory is the Best?

Many directories sell sitewide banner ads to other directories, which directly states the other directory is of higher quality and more worthy of submitting to, not only for how the ads flow link equity, but also for the general brand perception.

Sell Yourself First:

Some sites make the same error of undermining their perceived site quality by placing external ads above their house ads or internal products. An earlier version of my site design placed other ads in-line with the content and the ad for my book on the sidebar. The day I put my ebook ad inline with the site content my sales tripled. If you have an editorial site that people subscribe to the easiest thing to sell should be your own stuff since people reading your site already trust you. Now my site has less ads, a better brand perception, and more profit.

Promote Your Content to Sell the Ads:

Without distribution it is hard to make money from advertising. Without heavily promoting the value of your content it is hard to get much distribution, especially with the self reinforcing nature of networks and the web.

Some sites are so optimized for short term profits that they undermine their own authority by placing a large ad block above the content. There are many creative ways to slightly reduce ad CTR while still leaving the general perception of quality to most site visitors. Just about every link you get will be from someone who visits your site. If your site leaves a good perception of quality and trustworthiness it is much easier to be deemed as linkworthy than if your site looks like an ad farm. AdSense aligned top and to the left is the equivalent of a noisy FFA page.

The order you place things in tells readers of your site what you think is most important. If you are in a competitive marketplace it is hard to compete if you place other brands or ads above your content.

Published: February 20, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


February 20, 2007 - 11:12am

People tend to read engadget and think that its OK to have 90% ads and 10% content. Its not.

February 20, 2007 - 11:43am

Some good pearls of wisdom in this post.

Totally agree about the placement of adsense - too many ads scares away links, and links are of more long term value than ad clicks.

February 20, 2007 - 1:54pm

Useful and timely information for us. We're just launching an ISP product in the UK. We already have a few ISP sites which we can exploit but I don't think we've done it right. Though I think there are different expectations of what is acceptable for ad density between the UK and the US. I'm notaware of any metrics on that though

David Myers
February 20, 2007 - 9:53pm

On 1-26-07 you withdrew $9.95 from my acct. without authorization.I need your phone number to billing so we can get this matter straight

February 20, 2007 - 10:32pm

I have been following your advice on ad placement (layout, colors etc) for about 6 months now. I use to be doing it wrong - TO much focus on the ads and it took away from the content. I try to keep the ads towards the bottom of my information so the don't take away from the content and I have seen an increase in revenue.

My take on it, is that people don't get "annoyed" away when they first come to the site and read, and end up clicking on something that DOES make me money. Them leaving the site because they are annoyed does not make money.

I still have some work to do on my ad placement, but its getting better and the income is increasing because the value is there. Thanks again for some great info.

February 20, 2007 - 10:58pm

I have no interest in putting adsence on any of my sites I think it takes the value out of a site. I guess it would be different if it was high quality graffic images of companies that are parterners of some sort. Do you make that much money off of the ads anyway? I dont really think the profit exceeds the devaluation if I am wrong I think I would see adsence on We have high quality information on freinds/parterners with related businesses in our showroom. An the more that I learn about the web the more real it is trying to be. As real as my showroom eventually, we'll see?

February 20, 2007 - 11:25pm

I agree on the value of promoting internal products before opening up ad space to the general advertisers. I recently talked a partner out of AdSense on their site after estimating the volume of AdSense click and/or CPM traffic that it would require to off set one inhouse product sale. Now I just need to practice what I preach and drop adsense from my personal site.

February 21, 2007 - 12:35am

Hi David
I don't sell anything for $9.95, so I think you have the wrong person.

Hi Mat
Glad to hear your income is increasing and your user experience is improving. That is the best of both worlds :)

Hi Colbs
I do have another site with less pages than this one that makes 5 figures a month from AdSense, but I think it can make more if I use better affiliate ads on some of the pages.

Hi Kevin
I think it is easier to demote AdSense if you think of it not only from an income perspecitve, but also look at what it may cost in terms of credibility. Think of it like this... if you had to buy a few dozen high quality links that you are not getting because of aggressive ad placements how much would that cost you?

February 21, 2007 - 8:13am


So are advocating *NOT* using horizontal header ad blocks and banners?


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