Pat Flynn’s SGTHQ Update: The Power of Optimization – Mobile, Adsense and Opt-ins
5 votes, 5.00 avg. tacos (94% full)

The Power of Optimization – Mobile, Adsense, and Opt-Ins



You’ve probably been hiding under a rock if you haven’t heard that NoHatDigital has partnered up with Pat Flynn on an experiment to TRIPLE monthly revenue of his niche site: If you missed the beginning of this experiment, get up to speed on the SPI experiment timeline page.

I’ve been working hard on this project with the help of my fellow NoHatDigital team member Matt Stacks. Matt’s background has been in local lead generation and sales (listen to his awesome podcast about this here). His skill set is going to come in handy for some of the monetization methods we are trying out.

Check out the quick video we made for a rundown of today’s update:

Lets jump straight into it!

Optimization Needs Data

If you plan on optimizing even part of a webpage, data comes into play constantly. To properly optimize an entire website, you and data will be spending some romantic evenings together – quite a few evenings depending on the size of your site.


Heat-map for WordPress in action

The utilization of heat maps gives you a definite edge in understanding your visitors. Once you know what elements get the most attention, optimization becomes loads simpler. The deeper your insight of your audience, the faster you’ll be able to get them clicking “buy now”.

Tools such as heat maps should be the first weapon in your CRO arsenal – they help you see where people are clicking. With this real data you’ll put second guessing and “I think this will do this” moments behind you. Don’t hypothesize, validate.

Act on measurable factors and simple pass/fail tests.

A great (and free) plugin for this is ‘heat-map for WordPress‘ so don’t delay – get one installed on your site today and start collecting that juicy data!

In analyzing SGTHQ we made some interesting discoveries regarding:

  • Our advertisements
  • The opt-ins

As with most webpages, most activity took place above the fold. What surprised us was just how much attention the first ad is getting! No need to try anything with this ad, its a solid earner.

Disappointment came when we learned just how little attention our email opt-in was getting – it doesn’t really grab your attention the way an opt-in should, and we’re not sure why. Some further analysis and testing was done here, we’ll reveal that shortly.

Responsive mobile

With almost 40% of visitors viewing on a mobile device, implementing a more responsive theme was a no brainer.

After the mobile friendly modification we observed:

Mass Increases in Overall Engagement

bounce rate improvement

The results numbers don’t lie – go responsive today!

As expected, the most noticeable change in engagement statistics occurred with our smartphone and tablet visitors. Good thing too, as that’s nearly 50% of our traffic!

If half of your users browse using their mobile devices, you’d better be sure you’re responsive and mobile friendly. If not you’ll be in for high bounce rates, one page traffic sessions, and low session duration.

Think about how many crummy websites you’ve browsed to on your phone. And how many times you’ve immediately backed out because it was a pain to navigate.

  • With responsiveness implemented, we were able to improve our bounce rates by over 6% – meaning less people immediately leaving without even giving us a chance.
  • Also up 6% – our page views per session. Mobile visitors were clicking to other pages because our menus and navigation usability improved!
  • With a satisfactory 11.2% gain, our session durations have gone up as well. On average mobile visitors are spending another twelve seconds on our site compared to before.

Responsive Ad Blocks

Its one thing to make the site responsive, but you’ve got to make sure that the Ads become mobile friendly too.

Here’s our recommended ad tactics for a responsive site:

  • The ‘Responsive ads’ option  – a handy little Adsense option, you can choose to have your ads responsive over all platforms
  • 250px X 250px – even though these ads are not technically responsive, they are in fact mobile friendly – the image below fits nicely on a smart phone screen

The homepage ad block had responsiveness however the ads in the post content were not.  Contextual ads were cut off and looked terrible on smartphones:

To solve this problem we simply replaced these ads with a 250px X 250px ad, which made it much more click-able and appealing on a smartphone. Check it:

responsive-ads comparision

Adsense Revenue

At the moment, all of the earnings come from Adsense (see some tips on increasing Adsense revenue here) and the majority of those earnings involve the top banner ad on the homepage.

We decided against modifying this ad since it was earning good revenue.

Instead, we turned our attention down a few scrolls to below the fold ads – thinking a few experiments could produce some stronger results there.

Curious to see what a simple repositioning might do, we used Optimizely to run a split test on the first ad block within the content. A simple test, we moved the ad below the click-able map on the homepage.

Our reasoning behind this test?

  • The link banner at the top is already getting the majority of clicks
  • This ad takes the focus away from the opt-in, AND the click-able map
  • The opt-in and the directory have more potential for revenue than Adsense

The Result: With the ad placed above the fold (in the original position) it gets more clicks. When moved it below the fold we get more email opt-ins.

So it seems like we didn’t have the greatest results with Adsense, but this doesn’t bother us.

We are turning this site into a REAL business, and spending time on Adsense is not our priority.

We have been focusing out efforts on the areas with the most potential: Lead generation and the directory.  We are assuming these two elements of the project alone will skyrocket revenue, so it only makes sense that we focus more here. 80/20 baby.



Determine your main goal and make changes that will help you get there faster and more often. Yes, we may be losing a little advertising income. But that’s chump change compared to real business here.


The Opt-in form

Building an email list should be a top priority for any website owner. Why?

Because as Derek Halpern said, If you’re not building an email list, you’re an idiot.

Once you build up a subscriber list, you can market to them. For free. No need to spend time and money on SEO or paid advertising – just send an email. Don’t stop marketing to them – its free after all.


Our first goal was to determine the opt-in rate. So, how to go about this?

  • Mathematically, opt in rate = number of visitors that subscribe/number of total visitors. The easiest way to determine this is to set up a Goal in Google Analytics.
  • In Your admin tab, set a destination for your goal completion. In this case, it was the opt-in thank you page.


setting up a goal in analytics

Setting up goals in Analytics

After setting up a conversion goal in Analytics, we found the conversion rate to be 0.65%… not exactly stellar.

Taking a look at the opt-in form, we noticed its not very attention grabbing at all. It’s getting a few subscribers but it could get tonnes more if it had a stronger visual presence.

We used Optimizely to run another split test: The original, sidebar opt-in versus a pop-up opt-in which looked exactly the same :



The result? An improvement the the opt-ins by 45%

We also decided to test the opt in magnet which was “top 10 security guard interview questions”. This seems like a great opt-in offer, but when it comes to optimization, Always Be Testing.  Check out our podcast on Google Analytics for some great nuggets of info on testing.



We decided to test the following offers against the original

  • The same offer (top interview questions) but with better copy. How about: “The top 10 interview questions that will get you the job FIRST TIME
  • A security guard practice exam – this could be useful for up and coming security guards
  • A combination of the top interview questions + a resume template. This could be a very appealing offer to a security guard looking to get licensed.

The results: The variation with better copy came out on-top! we saw an improvement of 33% against the original. Great results again.

opt in offer split test results



Key takeaways:

  • Use data to your advantage – become an analytic’s expert, and crunch that data!
  • Always be testing. enough said.
  • 80/20 – focus on what matters most, and what has the most potential for monetization.
  • Don’t get stuck on one type of monetization – there are inFLYNNet possibilities.



We are so damn excited about this project as it aligns perfectly with our new Private Training Course; Its all about building a real online business and becoming a monetization expert.

Stay Tuned for the next update in the series; we’ll be revealing exactly how we are validating (and implementing) other monetization strategies, and we might even drop a few more Flynn puns if you’re lucky!



Pat Flynn’s SGTHQ Update: The Power of Optimization – Mobile, Adsense and Opt-ins
5 votes, 5.00 avg. tacos (94% full)
  1. Curious to see what you end up doing with those e-mail subscribers. Everyone stresses the importance of building a list, and in most circumstances I get it but in this case, I don’t see how you’re going to monetize it.

    • We have a few tricks up our sleeve Dan, we’ll be revealing more in later posts. There is tons of email opportunities for this, re-certifications, new certifications, job offerings, security guard related physical goods, etc.

  2. Loving this experiment. Most of the time we are obsessed with traffic but once the traffic is present most SEO guys do nothing about actual conversion and optimizing. There is a whole new world which opens up if you start optimizing better. Ultimately it all comes to CRO and if you are able to do that even traffic will not be an issue. You can go and buy it as long as ur CRO is solid and u can earn profits once visitor lands on the page.

  3. Well, I think that if visitors transition to subscribers (returning visitors) it is common sense that you will have more potential to persuade them more and eventually they will click onads just because your content rocks and they want to read it again and again, don’t you agree?

    I have a question from same opera but different chapter – we all know that Adsense works best with organic SE traffic, my question is how you can promote gently your Made for Adsense site to get it to 1st page/-s and don’t break the rules of Adsense/Google Webmaster?

    • Fair point, but remember Vytas Adsense is not the focus here, in the meantime its providing great revenue but the other monetization methods we will be implementing are going to dominate the Adsense revenue!

  4. Amazing Tips and Tricks Matt. Well Im fan of Pat works, he’s the best and planning to start a website same as his securityguard website :) keep posting matt

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