How to monetize website search results

Search results pages on websites are generally the most lucrative pages on a site, unfortunately a lot of small and medium sized publishers oftentimes pay little attention to their search results pages and miss out on large revenue boosts.

In this guide we will show you exactly what the best methods are to earn the most from your site’s search result pages. This includes search results from both user type-in queries in your site’s search box, as well as so-called category browsing or search filters that help the user refine their search better.

Most sites will use the same ad product and monetization strategy on search results pages that they use on normal article pages or on other rich content pages. However, search result pages are unique in that contextual ads can be targeted specifically to the end-user since we know precisely what the is looking for. While most article and content pages will use some form of native ad or display ad that pays based on impressions (CPM), the best possible ads to show on search result pages are CPC based text ads. The reason for that is since the user is already informing us what exactly they are looking for, it will be easy for a contextual text ad to achieve an extremely high CTR (Click Through Rate) that can produce RPMs (Revenue per Mille) that far out-earn / out-perform Display or Native ad formats. In addition to that, advertisers actively seek out ad placements on search results pages as those provide some of the best cost per acquisition outcomes for the advertiser. That means, advertisers like bidding on search inventory since the user intent is extremely clear, leading to higher conversion rates on the advertiser’s website.

This does not mean a search result page can’t be monetized with other type of ad units. In our experience contextual ad units should exclusively be used above, below and in between search results. While other sections of the search result page, such as the header and footer area and left and right sidebar regions can still be used for other ad formats for addition residual CPM income.

Real World Examples

Kijiji.ca

Kijiji is a highly trafficked classifieds website with over 250M monthly visits across all of its country sites. Kijiji is a great example when it comes to how to best grow your sites search result revenue since the majority of their page views are on search results pages or category browse pages or a variation of those pages where the user implemented any number of filters.

From their typical search results page you can see that the focus of display ads (Google Ad Manager AdX) is in the header, footer and sidebar regions using CPM based ad formats. Contextual search ads (AdSense Custom Search Ads), are used just above the first search result and right below the last search result on the page. This ensure the highest possible ad clicks while still earning of off display ads based on raw page views.

Kijiji.com search result page ads

Amazon.com

Similar to Kijiji, Amazon monetizes their header region with a horizontal banner style native ad. The left panel and the footer are below the search results is also monetized with display ads. Just above the first organic search result, Amazon places sponsored search ads. Below the last organic search result, Amazon places another set of sponsored ads that perfectly mimic the layout of standard product listings in its search results. This ensures that the sponsored search ads have the highest possible click-rate while still making sure the advertiser is receiving exactly the traffic they want.

Amazon.com search result page ads

Trovit.com

Trovit is present in over 20 different countries to help people find a house, job or car. Trovit has very much embraced maximizing their site revenue nearly exclusively with Google’s AdSense Custom Search Ads. Above the first search result as well as below the last organic search result Trovit displays a large block of AdSense custom search ads that directly relate to the user query. On the right side Trovit also shows one single large display banner ad served by Google Ad Manager AdX.

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Website Search Ads Options

When it comes to monetizing your website’s search result pages, there are very few options available to publishers. The undisputed king of monetizing your site’s search results page is Google’s AdSense Custom Search Ads. Yahoo as well as Microsoft Bing also have a so called Search Ads Feed program, however due to the ad inventory being significantly smaller compared to the ad inventory that Google has access to, the fill rate and consequently the CTR & RPMs are much lower for the Yahoo and Bing search feed program. For shopping websites, it is possible to get access to a special version of AdSense Custom Search Ads called AFSh (AdSense for Shopping ads). Similar to the AdSense Custom Search Ads program, the AdSense Shopping Ads program is difficult to get access to.

At Pubprime we specialize in working with high quality sites of all sizes in order to help increase revenue with AdSense Custom Search Ads as well as with AdSense Shopping Ads. Reach out us for more information on you you can earn revenue RPMs similar to those of the largest websites in the world.