How Does AdSense Work?
Whether you’ve been blogging for five minutes or five years, monetizing is one of those topics that almost always comes up. Should I try to make money from blogging? Can people really make a living online? How should I try to make money from my blog?
Google AdSense is one of the most common ways to monetize, though I’ll warn you now: AdSense is NOT a get rick quick scheme. In fact, it can take a long time to make more than a few pennies. But it can also pay off big in the long run.
What is AdSense?
AdSense is a program that allows bloggers and website owners to make money by displaying Google ads. You’ve probably seen the ads all over the place, including in Google search results. Basically, Google gets the largest cut and you get a small percentage. There are two ways to make money from AdSense:
- Impressions – this is based on the number of pageviews of pages or posts with ads
- Clicks – this is based on how many people click on the ads (don’t EVER click your own – more on this later)
To make it as basic as possible, you sign up for an AdSense account and add the code to your blog or website. You can choose how your ads look, where they show up, and even what kind of ads you’ll accept. Once you get to a minimum threshold of $100, Google will either send you a paper check or make a direct deposit into your bank account.
If you use Blogger, you can use the Monetize tab to set up and manage an AdSense account.
If you use self-hosted WordPress, you can visit the AdSense website and apply for an account. You’ll receive a code that you can place wherever you’d like, or you can use a plugin to help with placement.
*If you use free WordPress, you cannot use AdSense, but you can use WordAds if you have your own custom domain. (Just another reason why self-hosted WordPress is better.)
How Much Can I Make?
As I told you before, you will not get rich quick using AdSense. It took me 9 months to make $2 (yes, two dollars) on my personal blog. However, I made $81 last month. That’s still pathetic compared to many blogs – some people can earn a full-time income from AdSense alone. But it takes a LONG time to get there, and you have to have a ton of traffic.
Some ads are worth more money per click than others. This is also affected by the amount of traffic you get, the keywords the person searched for, the percentage of visitors who click on a particular ad, etc. There are a LOT of factors that determine how much you’ll make, but a rule of thumb is that newer blogs simply won’t make as much money.
My personal blog is about 14 months old. Some days, I don’t get any ad clicks at all and I might still make 10 cents or so just from impressions. Sometimes every click is worth $2 or more. Yesterday the clicks were worth a whopping 26 cents each.
Many people get impatient when they’ve had the code up for a month or two and haven’t made more than a few pennies. If you’re looking for something that will pay TODAY, AdSense may not be for you. And to be honest, I don’t know of anything instant – if I did, you can bet I’d be using it!
How Can I Make More from AdSense?
Basically, your best bet for ad clicks is increasing your search traffic. When people are trying to solve a problem, they usually turn to search engines like Google or Bing. If you have a post that solves that problem, using SEO will help your post rank well in search results. SEO will also help AdSense serve up relevant ads, so when people click on your blog post, the ads may answer the exact question they’re asking. Result? Ad clicks!
Here’s an example. Let’s say I write a post about the health risks of liposuction. I use SEO techniques to help Google realize what my post is about, and my post is the third one when someone searches for “liposuction risks.” AdSense also knows what my post is about, so people reading my post will see an ad that might say something like, “Safe liposuction services in New Hampshire” (or wherever).
If the person is interested in finding the safest place for liposuction, s/he is likely to click that ad. As I said before, the rate per click depends on a lot of factors, but my concern is making sure that people read MY post and not others! If they go to another blog to read about liposuction risks, they’re possibly clicking that person’s ads instead of mine.
There are a few things you need to know about AdSense before you ever put the code on your blog.
1. Never, ever click your own ads. In case you aren’t aware, Google pretty much knows everything. And they can tell if you’re clicking your own ads. It’s very tempting to click about 50 times and make some money, but all it will do is result in being banned.
2. Never, ever encourage friends or family to click your ads. Same as above. You can and will be banned from AdSense, and don’t ever think Google won’t figure it out. I don’t know how they do it, but I have seen it happen to people I know. JUST DON’T.
3. Pay attention to your ad clicks. If you average 2 clicks a month and you suddenly get 100 in a day, chances are that something is wrong. If you’ve pissed someone off and they decide to fight back by clicking all over the place, you can get banned even though you didn’t do anything.
4. Never rely on AdSense as your sole income source. Even if you get really good at SEO and you have 100 websites making thousands of dollars each month in AdSense, you never know when something could happen to trigger Google’s no-no sensors. You can make good money with AdSense, but you should also use other monetization strategies just in case.
5. Don’t use more than 3 ad blocks on a single page. Google allows up to 3 ad blocks on a page. So if you have one in your header, one in your sidebar, and one at the end of your post, that’s the limit for that page. Also, don’t plaster ads all over the place and annoy your regular readers! There are ways to implement the ads without making your site ugly.
What Questions Do You Have?
It’s impossible to cover a topic as broad as AdSense in a single post. This overview gives you an idea of what it’s for and how it works, but it still may not answer enough questions to make sense for you.
Let me know what would be most helpful. Do you want screenshots and step-by-step instructions on inserting the code? More tips on how to improve your earnings? A breakdown of all the acronyms you see in your AdSense account, like CPC, RPM, and CTR? Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll address them in future posts.
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