This is a very famous photograph in Internet Marketing circles. It shows top blogger Jeremy Shoemaker (known as Shoemoney) proudly bearing a cheque from Google for $132,000 which was his earnings from AdSense in one month.
Now you’re probably not going to earn that sort of money from AdSense yourself, or not for a while anyway, but it does give an indication of what’s possible.
What is AdSense?
AdSense is Google’s free way for website owners to earn money by displaying Google ads on their website. It’s the other side of Google AdWords – those paid search ads that appear on the search results pages when you search for something in Google, also appear in selected publisher’s websites (called the Google Content Network). You can display those ads on your own site and earn money every time somebody clicks on them. You can probably see an example in the sidebar next to this article.
How does Adsense work?
The Google AdSense system crawls your pages and automatically displays the adverts that are most relevant to your page. If you have a page about iPhones then the AdSense ads will all be about iPhones. If you have a page about holidays in Turkey then the ads will be about holidays in Turkey. You don’t have to do anything yourself to set this up, it’s all automatic.
AdSense will also show your visitors the ads it thinks they are most likely to click on, so if your visitor recently showed an interest in leather sofas then there will probably be some ads for leather sofas interspersed with your iPhone ads. You’ve probably seen this yourself when you’ve clicked on something and for the next few days or weeks, everywhere you go you see adverts for it. Can be a bit irritating, especially if you never meant to click on that ad for latex underwear…
How do I setup AdSense on my site?
It’s very simple. Just go to google.com/adsense and signup for an account. Once you’ve completed a few formalities you’ll be taken to a screen where you can setup your first Ad Unit. You choose the size of the advert from a range of standard sizes, choose a colour scheme (or create your own), setup an optional tracking channel and you’re done.
You’ll be given a few lines of code which you paste into the relevant place on your page and you’re done. It’s that easy.
If you’re not an HTML whiz then you might need some help putting the code on the page but if you’re using WordPress or a ready made template then there may be a facility in your template or WordPress Theme for putting AdSense onto your pages easily. It’s a very common requirement.
What happens next?
Alarmingly, as soon as you place the AdSense code on your page and then look at it in a browser to check the results, you’ll see a dirty big white space where the advert goes. Don’t worry! You haven’t done anything wrong, it just takes the AdSense system a little while to examine your page and determine which ads to show. This normally takes up to about 15 minutes and then ads should start to appear – phew!
Whatever you do, do not click on your own adverts!
If you click on your own ads, even accidentally, Google will take a very dim view of it. It’s potentially fraud as the advertiser is paying for that click which has put money in your pocket and you’re not a real customer. They are very, very good at spotting this and not only will they reverse your earnings they will also ban you. Don’t do it, not even for testing.
How much will I earn with AdSense?
That depends upon your traffic, the type of ads that are appearing on your page, and of course the number of people who click on them! Different ads will pay different amounts per click depending upon how competitive the market is for the advertiser, which determines how much they have to pay per click to get their ads shown.
In some sectors which are very competitive, advertisers will be paying very high amounts — maybe as much as £10 or more for each click. More normally, they will be paying perhaps around 20p to £1 per click. Google shares this ad revenue directly with you — they take some, you take some.
You may be surprised to know that Google pay you 68% of the revenue. Yes, more than half of the ad revenue goes to you the publisher. So if the advertiser is paying 60p per click, you will receive 40.8p every time somebody clicks on that advert. All ads don’t pay the same rate and even on the same page, ads higher up the ranking will pay more than lower ads.
If you happen to hit a sweet spot where advertiser’s cost per click is high you could be earning a few pounds every time somebody clicks on one of your ads. If you can drive a lot of traffic to your site, and your CPCs are high, you can potentially earn a lot of money with AdSense — witness Shoemoney above.
I haven’t quite hit his giddy heights, but not wanting to be left out, here is my best AdWords payment to date:
In case all this has got you thinking along the lines of ‘all I have to do is to find a niche where the AdSense CPCs are high, knock up a site and drive traffic to it’ — be careful! Google specifically bans what they call ‘Made for AdSense’ or MFA sites that only exist to drive traffic to AdSense ads. Your site must offer unique content and it’s own reason for being, in order to be eligible for AdSense. Similarly you are also prohibited from putting big red arrows with ‘CLICK HERE’ pointing at your ads!
Should I put AdSense on my site?
Whilst AdSense should never be the primary reason for having your site, it can be a useful supplement to your main income streams. There is a potential concern that you might be tempting people away from your site by showing them other ads and this is true but you can take steps to minimise it. You can specifically block certain ads (eg. competitor’s ads) from ever appearing on your site, and you can choose where on your site they appear – away from your main pages perhaps.
AdSense is a very easy way to monetise your site if you have traffic. It’s very quick to setup and involves much less work than finding and promoting affiliate offers.
Used intelligently AdSense can work well for you AND your visitors. I tend to think of AdSense as ‘mopping up’ anybody who hasn’t found what they are looking for on my site and giving them somewhere else to go. This is useful to them where everything else has failed but I do make sure I have a very good go at giving them what they want first!