Although I started my book blog all the way back in 2012 (a whole decade ago!) I only started monetising the blog via ads in December 2022.
I held back on ads for the usual reasons: I didn’t want to annoy my readers, ruin the user experience, or make the site painfully slow.
However, after dedicating a lot more time to blogging from September onwards, I realised that introducing advertising was my best way to compensate myself for the countless hours I spend on this blog.
(And honestly, we expect them on most sites now – even the BBC news website shows ads. Most people who hate ads also use ad blockers.)
I knew that if I was going to introduce ads, it had to be in the most user-friendly way. So after a bit of research, I went with Mediavine for my book blog.
This post is a bit different from my usual. If you want book recommendations, head back to the blog and you’ll find loads there (apologies!)
If you’re trying to get your blog approved by Mediavine and you need to increase your website sessions, read on…
How to get approved by Mediavine
To qualify for Mediavine, you need to publish quality, original, and engaging long-form content in any niche as a lifestyle publisher.
You also need to have had at least 50,000 sessions in the previous 30 days (per Google Analytics) and to be in good standing with Google AdSense.
How to go from 25k sessions to 50k sessions for Mediavine
In the early years since I started my book blog, I built up a decent amount of traffic and authority.
But for most of 2022 – and most of the several years beforehand – I had published very little.
Unsurprisingly, my traffic had plummeted.
I wasn’t tracking analytics, so I didn’t really know how many sessions my site was getting. But it was only about 25,000 sessions a month. (I received 17.5k clicks on Search Console in September.)
September 2022 was when I decided to treat my blog more like a business. (I talk about this more in my book Simple Business: How to Build a Business for Freedom, Ease & Simple Living.)
In October, I decided that I wanted to apply for Mediavine. That meant a blog traffic goal of 50k sessions, which required posting more content and improving a lot of my existing content.
It ended up taking just two months to increase traffic from approximately 25,000 in September to 50,000 in November.
What my Mediavine approval process looked like
I applied for Mediavine on Nov 30, connected my Analytics on Dec 1, and was provisionally accepted on Dec 2, subject to partner acceptance.
(It then took another two weeks to get final approval and go live, because they were experiencing some delays with the external Google Site Approval process. They said this could take up to 14 working days, and for me it did. My ads went live on Dec 21.)
However, during the wait for final approval, the results of my new posts kept increasing. In December, my sessions had gone up to 77,000, even after publishing very little that month.
Here’s what my numbers looked like in more detail before and after applying to Mediavine…
|New posts||Google clicks||Analytics sessions|
|Sep 2022||16||17,500||(~ 25,000)|
How I increased my traffic from 25k to 50k for Mediavine in 2 months
Okay, so how did I actually increase my traffic from about 25,000 to 50,000 monthly sessions in two months and apply for Mediavine?
I had one clear advantage on my side: having an old website. My blog was ten years old and had built up some authority in that time.
I think my website’s age made it much easier to reinvigorate my blog and get new posts to rank quickly.
As another factor, for the last 5 years I’ve earned a living as a content writer specialised in long-form, SEO-optimised content. So that’s been very helpful.
However, it still required actual work to benefit from these things. This included…
1. Posting a lot of new content
Publishing a lot more content was probably the most important thing I did to double my website sessions and reach Mediavine levels.
Some of this new content included old posts that I optimised and republished (more on this next), but at least 50% were brand new posts.
I already had a long list of posts that I wanted to write, so I made a start on these first.
To prioritise what to write, I used the free Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Checker to identify which keywords had a good combination of low competition + decent traffic.
I also signed up for LowFruits with a Black Friday deal, and found and organised some new keywords through that. It provides a useful overview of volume and weak spots in SERPs:
To generate new keyword ideas, I also looked at what I was already easily ranking for.
At least in theory, Google thought I was an authority on these things, so it made sense to do more of the same.
Publishing most days definitely seemed to help, and after a few weeks (and especially over the next month or two) I was generating some decent traffic from these new sources.
I published new posts as soon as they were ready, even if it meant publishing several posts on the same day.
I’m glad I did this rather than sticking to a clear schedule – I feel like getting posts live and indexed is what really matters.
2. Refreshing old content
Publishing approx 20 posts each month from September to November brought my blog back to life, but I think updating existing content also helped a lot to increase rankings and traffic.
After all, a lot of my existing content had once performed well… they had just become a bit outdated.
I started with my posts that generated the most traffic, went through each one individually, and did whatever needed doing to make it up-to-date, authoritative, and valuable.
My website theme (Kadence) lets me show when a post was last updated, which gave lightly updated posts a freshness signal.
When I made major changes to posts, I changed the publish date to that day, so they just seemed like new posts. I didn’t change any links or URL slugs, as I didn’t want to jeopardise the existing SEO goodness.
Now’s a good time to help your future RPM
A quick tip: while you’re optimizing content, it also makes sense to do some of the things that Mediavine will advise you to do anyway to increase your RPM. These include:
- Splitting up longer paragraphs into much shorter paragraphs. Aim for 1-2 sentences per paragraph.
- Including vertical images where relevant (these make your page longer and increase your RPM).
- Increasing your font size to around 18-21px and your line height to 1.6px.
Other things I did that weren’t essential
The two points above – posting a lot of new content and refreshing old content – did the bulk of the work to increase my traffic to 50,000 sessions.
However, there were a couple of other small things that might have helped. Perhaps. So here are a few details.
Updating website theme
In October I decided to switch my website theme from Genesis to Kadence WP. So far, I’ve really liked Kadence as a WordPress theme, and I’ve added it to one of my other sites too.
I heard good things about Kadence on r/juststart, but the main reason I chose it was for speed reasons.
I’d been struggling to pass Core Web Vitals and increase my page speed, and although a lot of this was due to image sizes, I wanted my theme to help out as best it could.
(Update: my new theme definitely helped with CWV, although upgrading my hosting a few weeks later probably helped more.)
Upgrading hosting from SiteGround to Cloudways
While waiting for the final approval from Mediavine (Google Site Approval) I decided to move my hosting from Siteground to Cloudways (with Digital Ocean).
This actually turned out to be risky (surprise, surprise), as I messed up part of the migration (how did I not see this coming) and migrated my site to a non-www. version of my site instead of www.
Cloudways live chat saved me in the end (I will be forever grateful to this person) and luckily neither Google nor Mediavine seemed to encounter my site when it was out of action.
PSA: Don’t update your hosting during moments like these.
But that said, my site speed has increased since switching to Cloudways and my blog’s passing Core Web Vitals over 95% of the time. That’s a definite improvement.
A quick summary of how to increase blog sessions to 50,000 for Mediavine
So there you go. I hope that’s helped. In summary, to reach Mediavine as soon as possible, try to dedicate as much time as you can to:
- Publishing lots more content. (Disclaimer: this needs to be high-quality and ideally long-form.)
- Updating existing content to move it back up the rankings.
- Doing what Mediavine will advise you to do after joining, like using shorter paragraphs.
- Fixing any technical issues slowing down your site or reducing user experience.
If you’ve found this useful, you might also like my new book, Simple Business, which is all about how I’ve built a simple and flexible business around the life I want to lead.
Any other questions? Feel free to reach out anytime.