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Making money with Google Adsense

You now have a website, filled with content and your visitor stats are on the rise. It is about time you start making money with your website! The obvious start is to add Google AdSense to your website. But make sure to read the entire article before getting started, Google is strict about who they let into their program and you have only one shot!


What is Google AdSense?

Before we answer that question we need to look at how Google brings together supply and demand for advertisements. We start with a very short intro to Google AdWords.


Google AdWords

Google makes a lot of money with showing advertisements on their search results. Often, the first three results are ads (sponsored results) and Google gets paid per click. Advertisers can set up their campaign using the network that Google created, named AdWords. In their campaigns, advertisers let Google know what keywords they target and how much they are willing to pay per click. Google AdWords is a continuous auction system, the more advertisers are willing to pay for certain keywords, the higher the clicks are worth. And the highest bids gets top place and attracts most traffic.



Ads on Google
Ads that appear when searching on



Google AdSense

Apart from advertisements on their own search engine results, Google offers advertisers a substantial network of websites (called publishers) where they can also advertise. This network is contributed by webmasters like you and me. This supply side of the advertisement market is called AdSense. So how does making money with AdSense work for me as a webmaster?

Basically, I reserve a small part of my website for Google and let them decide which advertisements they display there. For every click on these ads, I get paid my share (this share is 68%, Google takes 32%). The more clicks and the higher the value per click, the more money I make. It is that simple.

The beauty of AdSense is in the fact that Google's network of both supply (their search results and their network of associated websites) and demand (the advertisers) is huge. The bigger the network, the better Google can target the advertisements and the more people click on ads. The other brilliance of AdSense has to do with how they decide which ads to display. They analyze the pages on your site but also the browsing history of your visitors, this makes that the ads shown on your site are highly targeted and therefore, effective.



AdSense banner to make money
An ad I place on one of my websites



How much can I earn with AdSense ads?

This depends on two things. The number of clicks and the value per click.

The number of clicks is related to the amount of visitors your site has and to how you place your ads. Placing your ads where all your visitors will see them will help improve the Click-Through Ratio (CTR), but this can also scare your visitors away (too many, or too annoying ads are irritating). I am personally very conservative with this and put my visitors first and my ads last, literally.

The value per click depends on which ads are shown and this has much to do with your visitors and your niche. Your clicks will be worth a lot if you have a website about life insurance (maybe even a dollar or more per click). Why? Because the advertisers (life insurance sellers) are willing to pay a lot as their product has a long-term and high profit margin. If you have a website about Italian food recipes, your clicks will be worth much less (for most industries, expect to get paid 5 to 15 cents per click). Google calls the value per click "cost per click (CPC)".


Say you have a website with 10.000 pageviews per day. Your CTR is 1% (that's pretty good) because your ads are well placed, but not too annoying for your visitors. You will generate 100 clicks per day. With an average CPC of 15 cents your website is making $15 per day.




How do I join the Google AdSense program?

Google is picky who they let into their program and they set strict rules. Applying can only be done once, so be careful to respect the rules because you don't want to mess this up. The rules:


  • Before you apply, your website must consist of at least 10-20 pages.

  • You are not allowed to click or ask people to click on your ads

  • Your site has no pornographic content and it does not violate copyright laws.

  • You may only have one AdSense account.


Ready? Click here to apply for Google AdSense.



How do I add AdSense to my site?

Once accepted by Google, you have access to your AdSense account. Login and go to "My Ads" and click on "New ad unit". You can now create your ad and select the ad size you prefer. Google will hand you a piece of code that needs to be inserted into your site, either by adding it manually or by using a plugin (these are available for Joomla!, Wordpress and all Site Builders).


Ad sizes of Google Adsense
Recommended ad sizes, the leaderboard is the best performing ad.



How can I increase my AdSense earnings?

Simply adding AdSense to your site is not enough. You will need to think carefully about where to show the ads on your site and also which ad-sizes you select. More important even is to start testing what works for your site. Experiment with your ad sizes and with where you place the ads.


Rule of thumb

Ad size: the leaderboard (728x90) is one of the most effective ad sizes.

Ad placement: either on the left, above the fold (the fold is the part of the page visitors see without scrolling down), or all the way down at the footer of your site (once people reach the bottom of your site, it takes effort to scroll back up so this is a good place for ads).


Google will help you to optimize your revenue by giving you advice on a Scorecard. Their advice is not always useful, but be sure to try and test their recommendations.


Google AdSense scorecard
Google AdSense scorecard helps to increase your earnings



Word of warning

AdSense income tends to fluctuate significantly, some months are better than others. I have experienced a big drop in income twice, for no apparent reason. Also, sometimes people are banned from AdSense because of "potentially fraudulent click activity". If you steer away from anything even remotely linked to fraudulent activity you will probably be fine, but what I am saying is, don't rely solely on Google AdSense to monetize your website. Think about ways to complement your AdSense income like adding affiliate links to your sitewriting an eBook or starting a webshop.



Alternatives to Google AdSense

There are several alternative programs to AdSense, but unless you have a lot of traffic, most of these alternatives will unfortunately generate much less income. This does depend on the niche you are in though, so I definitely recommend trying these alternatives as soon as you make good money with AdSense.



Chitika is mentioned by most experts as the only real alternative to AdSense. If your site has a lot of traffic you can get into their Gold program, which will result in better performance. My personal experience is that earnings are significantly lower than those with AdSense, but as I said before this depends a lot on the niche you are in. Try it and know it.

Visit their website here.



One alternative I come across a lot InfoLinks. They offer ads but also in-text ads (which means some of the words inside your articles reveal ads).

Visit their site here.



Another alternative, aimed at high traffic websites.

Visit their site here.



Google AdSense is brilliant, everyone with visitors can make money with their website. This is a stimulant for webmasters to keep creating great content and contribute to the internet.




AdSense placed, what's next?

You now make money with your website, awesome!

Next up; adding affiliate links to your site to increase your income.

Proceed with the next step


Step 1: Build websiteStep 2: Create contentStep 3: Attract visitorsStep 4: Make moneyStep 5: Grow your businessStep 6: Earn more