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Adsense strategies - review and revenue tips

Google AdSense is a relatively easy way for small and large web site owners to generate revenue by displaying ads relevant to their site content. We've been participating in AdSense since June of 2003 and I thought I'd share our experiences with those of you considering using it, or are participating and would like to increase your revenue.

How does AdSense work?

Google Adsense provides you with a number of ad formats - image or text based. Implementing AdSense is very easy. You specify your preferences and JavaScript is then generated which you copy and paste into your page source code where you would like the ad to display. You can use the same JavaScript code on any of your websites.

Each time the page is viewed, the AdSense bot queries Google. If the page isn't listed in Google or has changed, then the bot will scan the page to determine what ads to display. The Adsense bot can be easily identified in your server logs - it's called Mediapartners-Google/2.1

Where does Google get the ads from?

The ads are drawn from the Google AdWords program. Google AdWords is a self serve program allowing advertisers to create their own ads and select keywords and phrases to bid on - it's a PPC (Pay Per Click) setup. Advertisers can specify if they want to appear in the Google SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages) and/or on participating publisher sites, such as Taming the Beast.net.

Basically, if the page you are implementing AdSense code on is about web marketing (with that term appearing throughout) and an advertiser has specified "web marketing" as one of the terms they wish to bid on, then that ad may appear on your site. 

Actually, it's a little more complex then that - it also depends on the popularity of the page, where the code is placed and a number of other of factors as to whether that ad is shown. If the page is popular, that increases the chances of getting higher bid ads generated on that page. Like Google's general ranking algorithm, the Adsense one is very intricate.

Even though there are many processes that go on behind the scenes, the delivery of AdSense ads is very quick - and in my opinion, very accurate; although it can take a little while for Google to get the "gist" of the page. If you look on the right hand side of this page, you'll see AdSense advertising. I haven't specified those ads, Google has generated them. As you can see, a high degree of customization can be achieved. 

How much revenue can I generate with Adsense?

You receive a percentage of the amount paid by advertisers for each click on an ad. Unlike other networks, Google doesn't state what that percentage is, and I speculate it varies, but it does appear to be a generous share.

As to how much you'll make, this is a "how long is a piece of string?" type question. There are no limits. I personally know people who are generating 5 figure monthly checks by using AdSense. As for how much I make, well that's a secret :) - it's not 5 figures per month, but more than enough to keep me interested in using it as a method of revenue generation - even more so now after having read and implemented some of the strategies in Joel Comm's Free Adsense strategies book! - but more on that later.

Revenue generation will be dependent on a number of factors:

  • The number of pages viewed per day
  • The topic of your content
  • The price paid by the advertiser for each click
  • The number of people who click on the ads

This doesn't mean to say that if you only generate a few hundred page views a day, you'll receive a pittance. In fact, light traffic sites can generate substantial revenue if their topic covers a very competitive market. 

You can get some idea of how much clicks are worth using the Google Adwords Traffic Estimator. As an example, type in "web marketing". You'll see an estimation of cost for each click. Pretty amazing isn't it? To be truly gob-smacked, type in "web hosting". Yep, that's right, that's how much some advertisers are willing to pay per click to grab one of the first 3 slots in Google's "sponsored link" results. Bear in mind, you won't get that full amount as it depends on so many factors, plus publishers only get a percentage of the full cost anyway, but you can get an idea of the pricey keywords vs. the cheap clicks.

Google issues checks approximately 30 days after the end of each calendar month if you've earned US $100 or more. If you've earned under that, the balance is rolled over to the next month.

Will AdSense boost my Google rankings?

No. AdSense and general Google search engine rankings are two totally separate beasts, but effective search engine optimization will assist in getting the most relevant and higher paying ads displaying.

AdSense revenue generation tips

While AdSense is a "set and forget" type of arrangement given the amazing technology Google uses; if you're just going to dump in the code and then leave it at that, it's my opinion that you aren't going to make anywhere near what you can from it. 

After reading Joel Comm's AdSense tips, I slapped myself several times for not having implemented some very simple strategies for generating more revenue. With only 60 minutes work, I boosted my CTR (Click Through Rate), increased my return per click.

I communicated with Joel regarding his book and while I'm sure he'd be pretty annoyed if I divulged too many details from his AdSense Secrets Ebook, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me publishing some generic tips.

Adsense don'ts

While Google is a nice partner to work with, they are strict on a number of issues.

  • Once you implement the code, do not click on the ads yourself. Given the amount that some advertisers are willing to pay, Google is very, very sensitive to click fraud. 
  • Tell anyone else using a computer from your home not to click on the AdSense ads, just to be safe.
  • Do not ever, ever try to "game" the system. Google is well aware of most of the tricks people use to engage in click fraud and pursues those people vigorously
  • Don't implement AdSense code where no-one will see it.
  • Don't incentive AdSense ads by offering rewards to visitors for clicking on ads.
  • Don't beg for clicks e.g. "help support this site, click on this ad"
  • Don't place AdSense ads on an empty page.

Any of the above can result in your AdSense account being suspended.

AdSense do's

  • Customize your AdSense ads, don't just use the default settings.
  • Write your content with not only the reader in mind, but with Adsense considerations as an issue.
  • Don't be too concerned with AdSense ads taking away from other offers on your site. It's been my experience that if people are interested in your content, and in the AdSense ads, they'll finish reading your copy first, then come back to the ad if that's of interest to them.
  • See AdSense as a partner, not a competitor. If you don't have what your visitor is wanting, while you may not get a sale, you may still generate revenue from that visitor by using AdSense.
  • Positioning is important, place the ads where they are most likely to be seen.
  • Google allows you to place up to three instances of AdSense code on each page - use them if you can, but vary the type of implementation

Good luck; may your CTR's be high and your monthly AdSense checks bring you much rejoicing!

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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