Article updated on March 31, 2020
Publishers everywhere are experiencing lower than normal RPMs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like you, we’re hoping the impact on revenue passes quickly but while we wait, here are 12 recommendations we have that can help bring those RPMs up. For our SHE Media Partners, please know we are here to support you in any way possible, don’t hesitate to reach out to our support team.
A quick refresher, RPM stands for “revenue per mille” (mille means thousand in Latin) and is defined as the estimated revenue you make for every 1,000 sessions received. You can read more about it here, but in short, for every thousand sessions on your website, you will make a certain amount of money, this metric is the RPM.
What Factors Impact RPM?
It’s a well known fact that bloggers compare their RPMs with fellow bloggers, but even within the same niche this is close to impossible (and never a good idea!!). There are many factors that impact your website’s average RPM. Those factors can include:
Content topic – In certain times of the year, a food brand may pay more for ad spots on a parenting blog than a website about truck parts.
Ad format – Video ads have a higher RPM in general.
Number of ads on the page
Device type (mobile vs. desktop)
Tips to Improve your rpm
1. Increase your font size
We’ve all gone to websites on our phone only to find that we can barely make out the words. So you try to zoom in but the page reloads or shifts and then you exit ASAP, right? If your font size is less than 16px (12 point size), considering increasing to 16-18px. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes on the page. Increasing the spacing between the lines can also make scrolling through text easier for readers. This is one of the simplest ways to better your UX while boosting your RPM at the same time. And this is a site-wide tweak that you should only have to make once. Here is documentation from Google Lighthouse on font size.
2. Increase your line height
With the increased font size, you’ll then want to add a buffer of spacing between the lines. Just like font size, in CSS, line height is measured in multiple units such as px, em, etc. The preferred method of setting line height actually isn’t with those complex units, it’s within the CSS by setting a line height as a number. This adjustment makes it much easier on the eyes to read through the text, therefore, encourages users to
3. Use headlines throughout your post
Digital readers are more like skimmers. You’re on your phone, you know what you’re searching for and you weed through content until you find what you need. I don’t know about you, but when I land on a long block of text that’s hard to digest, I’m less inclined to continue on the site. Make your paragraphs short by adding line breaks after every few sentences. That, paired with a larger font size, will make your content much easier for the user to read.
If you’re writing long form content, use heading tags throughout your posts. From an SEO perspective, the purpose of heading tags is to add hierarchical structure to the page, indicating to Google what the main point of the page is and then what sub-topics or supportive themes occur beneath. Heading tags appear in a range from H1-H6, H1 being the most important topic on the page, then H2, H3 and so on down the line.
Implementing heading tags on your posts will also impact the format of the text. Here is how these tags appear on the front end for this site:
Example of an H2
Example of an H3
4. Shorten your sidebar
Ever notice a blog sidebar that scrolls… and scrolls? Stuffed with anything from links to past posts, twitter feeds, IG pictures, webmaster bios/pics, newsletter signup forms, the list goes on. You can increase your RPM just by shortening (or even just rearranging) the amount of links/content appearing there. In the sidebar, the very top placement should be an ad unit. Users land on your page at the top and the faster the user sees the ad, the more money you make from it, so simply by moving the ad up in the sidebar you can see a higher RPM. So check your sidebar to see if you can free up some space.
And it’s ok to have more than one ad unit in your sidebar, especially if you have other modules (newsletter subscribe box, links to popular posts, etc.) breaking up the ads. But no matter what, the last ad unit placed in the sidebar, should be a sticky unit. Sticky units have a higher RPM than a normal one and if you need help setting this up, reach out to email@example.com ASAP!
5. Add images & videos to your posts
Users are much more likely to remain engaged with a page that has more than just words. Make sure you’re using interesting, high quality images throughout your content. Most articles have feature images, but if you are publishing a long-form article (800+ words), add images into the body of the post also.
Videos on your pages can have a positive impact on your RPM, as well as your SEO and user experience. And you don’t have to hire a production crew or appear in the video yourself to make this happen. There are lots of easy yet affordable ways to build a short relevant video for your posts. Find a DIY video maker like Biteable or Animoto and get creative with highlighting your brand, events, social accounts or top performing content. And taking it a step further, even if you don’t have video content whatsoever, you can still generate video inventory by adding our Outstream video player to your pages. This requires no development work on your end!
6. Increase the length of your content
Increasing the amount of content on your blog posts not only can help increase your RPM, but there are SEO benefits as well. Make sure your posts are at least 500 words, but when you’re covering more in-depth topics, the average first page organic search ranking in Google has between 800-1,200 words. If you’re thinking this sounds like wayyyy too much to write, I encourage you to lessen the number of blog posts you’re publishing each week by one and taking that time to put more time and effort into the others that you’re posting.
7. Shorten the paragraphs
While you’re increasing the overall length of your blog post, break up the paragraphs every 3-5 sentences. This helps users feel less intimidated when they see the length of the post. The heading tags will help this aspect as well, as they will feel more comfortable scrolling down to the area of the post that most applies to what they’re looking for. Shorter paragraphs are more digestible for the reader.
8. Bury the lede
Grabbing the reader’s attention from the very beginning is crucial to keeping them on the page, but you also want them to read the full piece. One strategy you should try is to put the most important, most essential parts of the content towards the bottom of the page. You’ll also want to add links to related content at the bottom in order to naturally guide them on to the next page, which is actually our next tip.
9. Add internal links
Having a strategy to link users from one piece of related content to the next will increase the amount of time they spend on your site and increase the amount of ads they view while there. Make sure to add internal links throughout the body of your content, as well as at the bottom of your post.
10. Increase the number of ads
If you’ve been conservative with the number of ads on your site, now is a great time to test a few more. If you’re a SHE Media Partner, you can check your dashboard to see how your units are performing. If you see that some aren’t getting the viewability numbers you like, swap it out and add a few additional ones in placements that are working, to increase your RPM. Unless you’re ultra conservative with the number of ads on your pages, we very rarely make the suggestion to add more. Users first is the name of our game, but in times like this, by even temporarily adding another unit or two to the page can help your revenue.
11. Beyond the banner
If the only ad type you have on your site are display, now is the time to look into some other types of ad products. For SHE Media members, some of those additional monetization offerings include social embeds, the Outstream video player, our recipe card ad integration and our commenting platform tool. If you’re open to any of these ad products, reach out to support today!
12. Make sure your ads.txt file is up to date
If you’re not using our Infuse plugin, reach out to our support team to make sure your ads.txt file includes the most updated lines. This, matched with optimizing viewability rates across all ad sizes and placements (such as the adhesive footer placement), will ensure you’re exposing as much inventory as possible to premium demand.
We are here to support you through this stressful time! If you have any questions about these products, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.