September 17, 2015
Review of Ezoic – Excellent but I’m not part of it for now
[ADDENDUM 22 September 2015 – I received comments from the customer contact person of Ezoic to my comments – which I’ve, with her permission, posted at the bottom of my comments.]
I was contacted by Ezoic some time ago – to try out their program.
Ezoic helps sites increase AdSense earnings through layout improvement.Testing new layouts of the exact same content can increase your ad income 50-250% and significantly enhance the user experience, which is one of the most important ranking factors! By testing out different layouts the system can collect data on user experience metrics to see how your users are interacting with the site and find the layout that works best for them. Typically if navigation is easy for visitors to use they will stay on the site longer, and view more pages, which means more ad revenue for you. The system is fully automated, so there is no additional work on your end, and you can continue to add content the same way you always have. The templates are also user friendly on all devices, so your site will continue to be accessible from anywhere.
When I found some time I had a quick look and thought I’d try it out.
Ezoic is a “the first Google AdSense certified partner headquartered in the US”. So its reliability is 100 per cent. I had no hesitation in pointing my domain to their DNS server and giving them access to read my google analytics account.
The communication from the contact person was excellent.
I realised, after seeing it operate that it WILL actually increase Adsense earnings. It is a very aggressive advertisement system, so your ad revenues will go up. Guaranteed. So that’s good, as well.
Why I dropped out
Over the course of a few weeks I realised my website was too complicated for the system, and my blogging style incompatible with Ezoic’s systems. Also, there was a temporary bug in the Ezoic system (that was later fixed).
Why too complicated? I run a good number of subdomains under sabhlokcity.com (just like this one). My subdomains are (even more than my main domain) PURELY intended for my personal record. I like to make notes on everything I learn and store the notes on the web in relevant subdomains (just like I’m making notes on the Ezoic experience). Much of this is background research, entirely random and not well written/organised.
However, some of these subdomains get a lot of visits and most of my adsense revenue comes from these subdomains. I guess where my posts address other people’s needs, google search automatically points people to these posts.
Ezoic is not, however, naturally designed to accommodate subdomains. After pointing the sabhlokcity domain to the Ezoic DNS servers, my subdomains dropped out. They had to be added manually by the technical people at Ezoic and they came back online. But that’s a glitch.
The testing was only done on sabhlokcity, not on the sub-domains. That means my increase in adsense would have been less than half of what it could have potentially been if the subdomains had all been tested. The way to test subdomains is complicated. I couldn’t quite understand (see below) and won’t spend time to try it out – for now:
Those two subdomains can be tested with, but the menu will need to be added to the main menu, as subdomains can’t have separate ones. Do you want to go ahead and have those subdomains added, or would you prefer to leave them the same?
What’s with my blogging style?
As I said, I use my blog as a web log, a web diary. I don’t re-read what I write. I don’t fix typos, grammar. I have many ‘placeholder’ blogs that I update regularly – these are my research posts which contain material on various topics of interest.
As I said, my blog/s are NOT meant for others. They are meant for me. And I use them like a personal notebook, and to refresh my memory. That means I want the material I type to be instantly visible on the net. I don’t like cached systems that serve outdated material.
But Ezoic uses caching. And although one can force-clear the cache, the system seems to re-cache and the old copy comes back. Because it has too many caches. And so the system WILL serve old material in many cases. With my style, that just doesn’t work.
Further: not just layout tested, but menus, widgets and CSS
Ezoic not only tests the layout of ads, but tinkers with the menu (I lost my second menu) and downgrades some of the widgets (I lost a widget containing a google search bar that I use to search for material inside my blog). That means I lost some critical functionality.
Also the CSS changed. I had customised my theme’s blockquotes style; that disappeared, and now one could not make out where a blockquote begins and where a blockquote ends.
Ads from wrong categories – for a while
Ezoic doesn’t recognise the blocks on various ad categories that I’ve put on my adsense account. One has to re-enter these blocks into their dashboard. But even after doing so, their system kept putting incorrect ads. Their system had a bug. That was later fixed.
Too many ads, and very large ones
The fundamental character of my blog changed with Ezoic. A lot of large ads, and too many of them. It became harder to read what I’d written, as it started getting merged with ad text.
Finally: this does take a lot of time.
I thought this was going to be easy, but it took 3-5 hours of time over the last few weeks, including in emails to the Ezoic contact person. I know this is a one-off investment in time that will pay off in the future, but the system is not costless. I’m desperately time poor (I’m writing this because I’m off work, being sick today). I’ve got other priorities than a few hundred dollars.
More money is better than less money. At the same time, my adsense revenue is really modest and a bit more won’t make me rich. So at this stage of my life, Ezoic is not for me.
I think Ezoic is best suited to the following types of websites:
- simple (not complicated, with subdomains)
- professionally done (not a haphazard personal notebook, like mine)
- intent to make money (this is incidental to my blogging efforts)
- willingness to have large ads on one’s website
- willingness to live with caching
I might – one day – return to Ezoic – when I have more time, less commitments, and more value for the additional money I may gain from ads.
So, while Ezoic is not for me, I’d say that it could work for many people.
The customer service was EXCELLENT.
The technical support was VERY GOOD.
The company is 100 per cent reliable.
ADDENDUM: COMMENTS FROM EZOIC
1) But Ezoic uses caching. And although one can force-clear the cache, the system seems to re-cache and the old copy comes back. Because it has too many caches.
This isn’t right Sanjeev. When you clear the cache it does not re-cache the old copy. What you were seeing isn’t what everyone sees. Ezoic uses a CDN (content delivery network), and CDNs use a system of servers across multiple data centers that will cache versions of your site. This reduces the load on your servers and allows the site to load quicker. However, there can be a delay of around 20 minutes for the new version of the site to cache across all of the servers. So, when you force cleared the cache you immediately saw the new content, but when you refreshed the page you saw the current version because the system hadn’t cached the newer version yet.
2) Ezoic not only tests the layout of ads, but tinkers with the menu (I lost my second menu) and downgrades some of the widgets (I lost a widget containing a google search bar that I use to search for material inside my blog).
This is partially right, but not quite correct. Ezoic changes the sizes / fit of the pages to improve the user experience by improving the navigation. The system isn’t testing with different menus (although it does test different menu styles), rather the two menus were combined into one because it produces a better user experience to only have one navigation throughout the site. While it may be a bit surprising at first, it really can make a big positive difference! There is also an option to edit the menu to your liking in the settings. Regarding the lost widget, each of the templates should have a Google search bar, and we could have fixed that for you had you let us know it was missing.
3) Also the CSS changed.
You mentioned that the CSS changed. The way the system works is it separates the code from the content and reconstitutes it onto the new layouts. Your original code never changed on your site, and the new layouts placed the content where it best fit in those Ezoic layouts. It’s all about getting the users to respond and see what they like and don’t like – testing really does work!
4) Too many ads, and very large ones
How do you know that there were too many ads for your users? It’s quite often a misconception that ‘too many ads’ is bad… when actually, this is not the case. The system WILL test many different ad sizes and ad placements in order to see what generates the best income, but it also measures the usability of the site. If User Experience is improving (bounce rate is going down and time on site / page views per visit are going up), then the ads are not negatively affecting the site’s user experience. The truth is, you only tested your site for a few days, and had you tested longer the system would have boosted your UX AND given you more money. Testing is a process, it’s not instant.
5) I thought this was going to be easy, but it took 3-5 hours of time over the last few weeks, including in emails to the Ezoic contact person.
I do understand that the time commitment was more than you expected, but this is very dependent on the person. While some people may need to amend the menu and ad categories, others can just integrate and go. It’s a situation that really varies by individual. But think about it like this – if you had tried to generate the same number of tests that the Ezoic system conducted for you automatically – and to make them yourself, and test them manually – it would have taken you weeks of work (not hours).
As it was, you quit the testing process very early – having put in the effort to understand the method and the controls. I don’t think that your site is too complicated for Ezoic, but I do think you didn’t personally like testing (which is different). From our perspective, I think you pulled out way too early.