Hi All - Over the last couple of weeks I've made some good-sized updates to my site, but what I'm really looking for is feedback on my initial monetization strategy. My near-term strategy is pretty simple: provide a large of amount of useful and entertaining free content, and monetize on ads. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so I want to make sure I'm thinking through this the right way.
As I explained in my first post, I'm using pricing data at the country and city level to serve up a highly customizable daily travel cost calculator. I want to make it fun for people to input their own personal travel tastes for various categories like food, hotels, # of drinks out, etc., and get a truly personalized estimate of their travel expenses. In the last couple of weeks I've added a "what can I afford" calculator, and also spent more time building the database of country-specific elements that get served up via PHP, in order to make the country-specific pages more country-specific.
Here's the main travel calculator page.
And here's an example of a country-specific calculator for Oman.
The search engine visibility progress is more or less on schedule... I'm starting to see some impressions with GA. The curveball is that Google declined to crawl the majority of my country-specific pages when I submitted my sitemap... right now I'm submitting the individual pages , but due to the daily index limits I'm only about 50% indexed to-date. As I mentioned, I've been adding more unique country-specific content toward the top of the page, but I suspect when I first submitted the sitemap the pages looked too similar, so Google decided not to index the majority of them. The good news is that they are being slowly but steadily indexed now.
What do you think about my initial strategy of ramping up my organic search visibility, then reserving some space for ad clicks? At some point I'd love to start serving content-specific ads, but this is a side-side project currently so I'm just taking it slow. Anyways, is the ad model dead, or is it viable? Are there things I should be thinking about today if I want to start monetizing via ads in 60 days? Or... should I be trying to monetize some other way from the get-go?
Also, I realize Friday afternoon / evening is considered the worst time to post when you're looking for engagement, but maybe ya'll will be in a more reflective mood as you're settling into the weekend, and willing to give me a little bit of time and pointers.