Google AdSense (www.google.com/adsense) is the 800-pound gorilla in the display advertising world. Google AdSense enables publishers to access inventory from Google’s own advertiser network, Google AdWords, and from dozens of other partner networks that tie into Google AdSense. More than 1 million publishers use Google AdSense to generate revenue on their websites and Google generated more than $67 billion in advertising revenue in 2015 (http://www.statista.com/statistics/266249/advertising-revenue-of-google/). Because of Google’s massive network of advertisers, many publishers find that it’s much more profitable to run Google AdSense ads than ads from any other advertising network. This is not universally true, but AdSense does tend to perform better than other networks in highly competitive categories.
In order to run Google ads on your website, you will need to apply for a Google AdSense account at www.google.com/adsense. As part of the application process, you will need to provide Google with a link to your website, bank account information so that Google can pay you and tax information so that Google can file the appropriate tax forms at the end of the year. After your application has been approved, you will be able to login to Google AdSense and get ad tags that you can place on your website. When creating your ads, make sure to stick to Google’s recommended ad-sizes and choose a color scheme that blends in with your website. If your website gets any meaningful amount of traffic, you should begin to see revenue show up in your AdSense account within a day of placing your ad units. Google updates earnings numbers periodically throughout the day, so you will always have a pretty good idea of how much you are earning.
At the end of the month, Google will tally up your earnings and will issue a payment to you around the 21st of the following month if your earnings hit $100.00 during the previous month. If you don’t happen to hit $100.00 in earnings for your first month, your earnings will roll over and be added to the next month’s earnings. In the United States, Google makes payments via ACH directly into your checking or savings account. Publishers in other countries may have access to additional forms of payment.
Optimizing Google AdSense
Google AdSense continues to be one of my company’s largest sources of revenue. Our network of financial news websites attracts between 3 million and 5 million page views per month and we’ve found that Google AdSense is an extremely effective way to monetize our websites. I have personally been running Google AdSense ads on my websites for more than ten years, have done hundreds of experiments and have tried every combination of ad units and colors on my websites. I have learned a lot during the ten years that I have been an AdSense publisher and have learned several strategies and best practices that every AdSense publisher should be aware of.
Here are my suggested best practices for AdSense publishers:
- New Publisher? Take the “Optimizing AdSense” Class – If you’re just getting started with Google AdSense, take the time to watch the videos from Google’s “Optimizing AdSense” course, located at https://optimizingadsense.withgoogle.com/course. The video course provides a good overview of how AdSense works and how to properly place your ads.
- Checkout the Opportunities Tab – Inside your Google AdSense account, there is a tab titled “optimization” that will give you a list of specific recommendations that you can implement to improve your website’s earnings. The opportunities tab might suggest that you place different sizes of ad units on your website or change the colors of your ad to better match your site.
- Use Recommended Ad Sizes – Some ad-sizes have a lot more advertiser demand than others. Make sure to run ad-units that are listed as “recommended” when creating your ads. In my experience, I’ve found that running a 728×90 ad in the header, a 300×250 ad in the top of the sidebar and a 336×280 ad in-side of the content of each post works best, but your mileage may vary depending on your website’s layout and your audience’s behavior. You can run up to three AdSense units on each page, so make sure to use them all.
- Place Units above the Fold. If you want your use to click on an ad, you’re going to have to put it where people will actually see it. That means your primary ad(s) should be visible to the user when they first load the page without having to scroll.
- Show Both Text and Display Ads. When creating an ad-unit, you have the option to only show text-ads, to only show display ads or to show both text and display ads. In order to maximize your earnings, make sure to show both text and display ads on all of your units.
- Don’t Block Ads. AdSense gives you full control over what ads are shown on your website. I recommend that you don’t block any ads on your website in order to maximize revenue because you may end up blocking high-paying ads from running on your website. The only time you might consider blocking an ad is if it’s (A) extremely inappropriate for your audience or (B) a direct competitor is advertising on your site.
- Regularly Split-Test Unit Sizes and Positions. Your initial ad-layout generally won’t be the most optimal for your site. I recommend trying out different combinations of ad-sizes and positions to see which generates the highest CPM (earnings per 1,000 visitors). ProBlogger has put together a guide that teaches how to create AdSense split tests, which can be accessed at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/05/16/how-to-split-test-ab-test-your-adsense-ads/.
- Use “AdSense Experiments” to Test Colors and Fonts. I recommend regularly experimenting with your top-performing ad-units using the “AdSense Experiments” tool. This tool will allow you to easily see if changing colors, fonts or font-sizes has a measurable impact on your earnings. I recommend making a series of 5 or 6 tests for your best-performing units and running them one-by-one until your units are well-optimized. Google has put together a guide about using AdSense Experiments, which can be accessed at https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6321879.
- Render Your Units with High Click-Through Ratios First. Not all ads that load on your page will pay the same amount per click. Google will show the highest-available CPC ads on the unit that renders first in your HTML, so you want to make sure that your highest CTR ads are rendering first in the page.
- Use Link Units for Additional Revenue. Link units are relatively small units that can be placed in-addition your main three AdSense units on your page. They won’t generate a lot of revenue, but can add a nice revenue boost when placed appropriately. You can learn more about link units at https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/15817/.
- Use Google Custom Search as Your Site Search. Google Custom Search is a nice way to add incremental revenue to your AdSense account. You can use Google to serve as your on-site search and you’ll receive a share of any ad-revenue generated from the search. You can learn more about adding a custom Google Search form to your website at https://developers.google.com/custom-search-ads/.
- Use Ezoic to Find Optimal Ad Units – Ezoic (www.ezoic.com) is a Google Certified Publishing Partner that offers web-based software and artificial intelligence to find the best possible ad-sizes and ad-placements on your website. Ezoic will integrate with your existing AdSense account and your website to automatically run experiments to determine which combination and placement of ad units is best for your website.