Earth Notes: On Website Technicals (2018/03)

Tech updates: Google AdSense Auto Ad imbalance, site incremental build, readability, article tags, ad borders...

2018/03/20: Moar Readability

I continue to chug away, improving the readability scores of pages for which I am now getting warnings.

I am feeling a little inspired today (after a Governors' Visit Day to our local primary school) by the simplicity of some of the independent creative wiring of year 2! Short can be good.

Expecting instant changes in visitors would be foolish, however: Google: Can Take 6+ Months to See Rankings Improve from Quality Improvements.

Since the common borderless 'native' Auto Ad format seems to be doing well for revenue, I have stripped the red border and 'Advertisements' tag from the generic ads that I still insert manually and algorithmically. I have even reset the actual ad style from my long-standing yellow background and red border that I use across multiple sites, back to AdSense defaults.

2018/03/18: Article Tags

I have generalised the tagging mechanism to allow any article zero or more tags. As of today six tag 'words' are defined to indicate things from tech-heavy to social-media targetted. This is partly to drive a variable readability threshold, and partly to annotate the main site-guide links.

In passing: when I used Google to find a "CSS colour picker", G brought up its own interactive one directly above the search results!

2018/03/11: Readability

I'm now computing (with a view to improving) the Flesch Reading Ease of my core pages, at the moment using the reado npm package. Currently I've set the default warning threshold at 55 "fairly difficult to read," but for core non-technical pieces will aim for ~85 "conversational English for consumers," while maybe letting heavy tech pieces get as low as 40 to 45.

I may look for a replacement for reado in due course, as for quite a number of pages it reports 'NaN' rather than a useful score!

I have come across the suggestion that there should be an image for every 100 words for maximum shareability. That would be a tall order!

2018/03/10: Site Incremental Build

I have been tweaking the pages-incr make target to ensure that if there is nothing that it can build then it terminates quickly, and conversely, if run enough times it will build everything that it can (the core pages of full and lite site versions).

2018/03/08: Google AdSense Auto Ad Imbalance

I have an experiement with AdSense Ad Balance testing for a fill rate of 100% or 50% and for now 50% is not looking good. Possibly connected, possibly not, Auto Ads and Ad Balance between them seem to be inserting lots of unused (white) slots on my pages which look messy, and I should think could be avoided, even without causing scroll 'jank'.

I think that with Auto Ads and having tweaked some other settings to allow a slightly wider range of ad types, I am seeing a tiny increase in my still miniscule revenue!

2018/03/19 note: I cancelled that experiement and I have started a 100%/90% replacement experiment, which at first blush seems better.