The other day, I opened Google webmaster tools and started playing around with the settings there. I came across this setting called geographic target and it was hidden deep beneath the enormous amount of configs anddata shown on the page.

Google webmaster tools geographic target

Out of curiosity, I changed the target and set it to India. I didnt have to think much about the consequences of the change since my website was already targeting Indian users and over 90% of daily users were from India. In fact, I was wondering why google did not automatically set it to India since those 90% Indian users were already coming to my site through google search.

Anyway, I was messing with some other tools present on the site like data highlighter, authorship verification etc. After trying out all the tools, which quenched my curiosity, I went peacefully to bed.

The next evening, as usual, I was casually checking my adsense earnings and to my dismay, my daily earnings had reduced to half of what it usually used to be. I hadn’t earned this low ever on adsense. I waited for another day just to be sure that its not a temporary glitch in the system. That did not help.

RCA of the incident

Nah, RCAs make it sound too formal, just jotting down the possible caused of the drop in earnings.

A geographic target for a website defines which country’s user does the webmaster want to show his website to. Setting this to India will tell google’s search algorithm to promote this site to the top whenever a user searches on

This indeed was true. My site used to be at rank 3 for the keyword “kbc game” for quite a long time. Changing this setting had instantly pushed my site to rank 1 for the same keyword (I was searching on Following this, I was getting almost double the traffic too. But how did adsense earnings decrease. Logically, it should have been the opposite.

The next thing which came to my mind was the question “Does google not have enough ads in its inventory for India ?” Since I was targeting India, I thought google did not have enough ads to show to Indian users. This did not make much sense since there are a lot of websites and google adsense is not a new product.

My next suspect was CPC (cost per ad click). I started thinking that the cost per click might has been low because its India. Purchasing power of an average Indian user is low and CPC algorithm might be based on that and all that crap. I thought that I had nailed it. It made good sense for sometime. I felt great and foolish at the same time. Great for finding the cause, and foolish for changing the webmaster setting.

Then came the next twist. When I opened my Adsense stats, I was surprised to see that the CPC was not affected at all. The number of ad impressions doubled, but CPC was constant. Then I noticed the CTR (Click through rate) number. This number tells me out of a given 100 visitors, how many end up clicking an ad. This number had become 25% of the normal trend. This didn’t make much sense, because I was expecting the ads to be more relevant since I have told google in advance that I am targeting Indians and more Indians were actually visiting the page.

Anyway, I still could not find the actual cause and time was running out. Every cell in me was telling me to go and revert the webmaster setting. On the other hand I was curious to find the actual reason behind the reduced CTR. It was time to give up. I decided that I will casually look it up on the impact of this setting on adsense sometime later.

I reverted the setting back to “do not target” and boom ! my earnings got restored to normal. Surprisingly, my rank 1 for “kbc game” stayed there. So it was indeed worth the effort. Now I have better traffic than before and slightly improved earnings after the whole exercise.

Although I have now come up with a theory just to satisfy my restlessness.

“Indian’s are smart enough to avoid ads”

This made complete sense since setting the target brought it more Indians and less of foreigners. Which increased the traffic. But since Indians  have developed a blindness towards ads, they avoid clicking on them. Also another backing theory is that there are a lot of these free websites in India like free sms, free music etc which are filled to the brim with ads. But we Indians still manage to find our way through the maze to actually use their service.

Thats enough fundae for this post. Cya later.


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