So lets see what the traffic and click through rates looked like. When I compared page views vs matched content impressions, the numbers were close, but not the same. That was due to some pages on my blog not displaying matched content (home page, search, etc).
The range of total daily matched content impressions was 400 -1125. The total daily click throughs on matched content recommendations was in the range of 0 - 32.
Looking at daily results was not sufficient as it didn't cater for traffic spikes and server outages, so I looked at cumulative data over the period of the last 4 months.
Page Views: 135,222
Matched Content Impressions: 97,888
Recommendation Clicks: 1,851
That's a fair amount of traffic considering it's all through organic growth. Calculating the CTR for matched content (1851/97888) gave a nice figure of around 1.89%. This came very close to the target figure of 2% you would ideally want to have for CTR.
So that equates to roughly 2% extra traffic without any additional costs or negative side effects. There was, in fact, very little that I had to do myself. Google did all the hard work here. All of the suggested pages were calculated automatically based on the content of the page being viewed and it was all displayed in a nice neat responsive box. All I had to do was pick a location for the matched content unit and add a few lines of code to show it. Not bad for a free traffic boost!
Unfortunately not every site that has been approved for AdSense is eligible to have Matched Content. These are the requirements for your site/blog (source):
- 1,000 pages
- 1,000 daily page visits
- A unique image on most of the pages of their site
To check if you're eligible go to your AdSense Settings, then My Sites, then Matched Content. If your sites are eligible, they'll be listed there.
Creating a matched content unit is identical to a standard ad unit. Whenever you create a new ad unit, you are given a choice of whether it should be a matched content unit. Generating code and customisation are again the same as for standard ad units.
After adding a Matched Content unit to your site/blog, it will appear similar to the one below. There are 8 slots for recommended pages that Google has been able to find on your site/blog. Each one typically has a thumbnail too, but I have noticed that sometimes a list of pages is displayed without any pictures at all.
You can enable Matched Content to display ads too, I did try it for a time but didn't like it very much. When ads are enabled, the first three slots become ad slots and instead of displaying links to your other pages they will display sponsored content.
So there you go, I think there are plenty of benefits for including matched content. It isn't very intrusive, you control where it's displayed and content inside it is to your own articles/pages. Best of all it's free to use. If you don't have Matched Content and are eligible, I'd strongly encourage you to try it.