AdSense is perhaps the most popular way to make money online, but is it real? Can you still make money with AdSense? Can you live from AdSense?
I’ll try to give you honest answers based on my experiences as an AdSense publisher, but also examples of successful websites using AdSense.
What is Google AdSense?
Most internet users are probably familiar with Google AdSense, but to keep newbies up to date, here’s a quick overview of the program and its main benefits:
- It is owned by Google
- It is a major source of revenue for Google. In 2018, AdSense earnings were $24.1 billion for the third quarter alone!
- It is free for publishers.
- Advertisers use the Google Ads program to advertise their products or services on AdSense websites. They only pay when someone clicks on their ads (PPC – Pay Per Click)
- Publishers receive 68% of the revenue and Google 32%. For example, if an advertiser pays $1 for a click, 68 cents will go to the publisher and 32 cents to Google.
- The calculation of the cost per click is based on an auction type system.
- It is very easy to use
- It is the most trusted advertising platform on the internet today and can generate the most revenue for publishers (compared to other similar PPC systems)
- In addition to content websites, AdSense is also available for games, videos, mobile, and search products.
You can find more details about Google AdSense in the AdSense Help Center.
How to earn money with AdSense?
So AdSense is free, easy to use, you get 68% of the revenue. What else do you need to make money with AdSense?
1. You need a content-rich website
AdSense loves content-rich websites. The content can be of any type (text, images, videos) and as long as it does not violate the AdSense content policies.
However, it is suggested to have text content on your pages so that the AdSense crawler can understand what the page is about.
AdSense is best suited for websites that publish articles, case studies, how-to guides (like this one), and blogs.
Having a content-rich blog that helps people learn something or perform a specific task is one of the best ways to make money with AdSense. If you don’t already have a blog, the following resources will help you get started.
Resources to help you get started with blogging:
2. You need a high-quality website
It’s not enough to post content that doesn’t violate AdSense’s content policies, you must also provide high-quality content in a high quality website.
Google is responsible to advertisers for the money they pay so they don’t want their ads to appear on low-quality websites.
In the past, this was possible, but in recent years, they have stricter policies on the type of websites you can run AdSense on.
3. You need a LOT of traffic
AdSense is a good way to make money online and is perhaps the easiest method as long as you have a good amount of quality traffic to your website.
I can’t give you an exact number because the amount of money you can earn depends on your earnings per click (EPC) and click-through rate (CTR), but I don’t normally advise my clients to run AdSense on websites that have less than 300 -400 unique visits per day.
However, in general, the more targeted traffic you have, the more money you can make with AdSense.
4. You need to target the right keywords
If you go to the correct keywords iOn your content, you can earn more money with AdSense or any other advertising platform.
What are the right keywords? Keywords that are:
(1) used by advertisers to promote their products, so the competition is higher and this increases the earnings per click (EPC)
(2) Action Keywords: Action keywords are more effective as users are more likely to “take action” i.e. convert after clicking.
Let’s see the following example:
Suppose you have 2 websites in the weight loss niche running AdSense. Both websites receive the same amount of organic traffic and have the same ad positions.
The first is getting visitors to search for: ‘weight loss tips’, ‘how to lose weight’, ‘lose belly fat’ and the other is getting traffic from keywords like: ‘why drinking water is important’, ‘what to eat after dinner’, ‘how many meals to eat per day’.
The first website is likely to make more money from AdSense because more advertisers are interested in those keywords, so the number of relevant ads available will be higher.
Users are also likely to click on ads more frequently, as users looking for advice or solutions to their problem are more likely to click on a relevant ad than users looking for general information.
This is also the reason why organic traffic is considered more valuable than any other form of traffic, namely because it is highly targeted and converts better.
5. You must fully comply with AdSense policies
Like I said earlier, AdSense makes up 1/4 of Google’s revenue, so they take the whole program very seriously. While it’s relatively easy for everyone to get an AdSense account, if you don’t follow their rules 100%, you risk losing your account.
Whether you’re an existing or new AdSense publisher, be sure to read your policies before implementing AdSense on your website.
Remove from your mind any ideas to cheat the system and always remember that they have hired the best people to make sure that no one can circumvent their rules and policies.
6. You must have a website with a purpose and not an MFA website (made for AdSense)
While AdSense is a great way to monetize a website, websites built for the sole purpose of serving AdSense ads are not favorable to Google.
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post: 5 Reasons You’re Not Making Money Online and what’s important to understand is that your website or blog needs to have a clear purpose that goes beyond just making money with AdSense.
Yes, you can use AdSense to earn money from an established blog that has a lot of traffic and visitors.
You can also use AdSense to earn some extra money from your website while selling your own products and services, but it’s not a very good idea to start a blog and start posting mediocre content for the sole purpose of getting organic visits and then run AdSense to earn money.
In the past, this model may have worked, but no longer.
Examples of websites that make money with AdSense
To be more precise, let me give you a couple of examples of websites that make money from AdSense.
As you read through the examples, try to relate these websites to what I have explained above and try to understand how all the guidelines have been applied in practice.
Example 1: School of Digital Photography
DPS is owned by Darren Rowse, the famous Australian ProBlogger. Darren was one of the first people to make a living online, and if you read his story and his income, AdSense played a huge role, especially early on.
Let’s see how you use AdSense in DPS.
Website with Adsense ads
He is using a number of ads per page. One of the ads is “above the middle of the page” and others are at the bottom of the page, but in the main content area. He also has an ad in the sidebar.
Example 2: Calorie Secrets
I also use Adsense on secretoscaloricos.net. Instead of charging for the products we offer (calorie counter, food tracker, diet plan), we decided to have the products free and use AdSense to monetize our content.
I use 3 AdSense ads per page, 1 on the top half of the page, 1 on the bottom and 1 on the sidebar.
Adsense ads on CalorieSecrets
What is common to all of the above websites?
After looking at the above examples, can you tell what they have in common?
- They are content-rich websites, offering high-quality content.
- they have a lot of traffic
- They fully comply with Adsense policies.
- They fully comply with the webmaster guidelines.
- Although they do have ads on the top half of the page, they do not interfere or harm the user experience.
- They all have their ads in the main content and in the sidebar. The reason is simple: the click-through rate (CTR) in the main content area is higher than the sidebar and this translates into more clicks, i.e. more AdSense money.
- They all offer other services/products and are not for the sole purpose of running AdSense.
Can you make a living with AdSense?
I’ve explained above what it takes to make money with AdSense, but can you also make a living? In other words, can you depend 100% on AdSense for all your spending?
The answer is no. The reason isn’t that you can’t make thousands of dollars a month with AdSense and earn a good living, but that you can’t depend on just one source of income.
The online world is more dynamic than the offline world and you cannot assume that you will always have thousands of people visiting your website and clicking on Ads and you cannot assume that AdSense will be around forever.
Maybe you do, but you can’t base your income on it. Diversifying your risks and spreading your income is always the best practice, whether online or offline.
AdSense is perhaps the easiest, most reliable, and best way to make money online. As long as your website meets the criteria explained above, you can enjoy a good monthly income by using your content and the hours you spend online in the best possible way.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t rely solely on AdSense if you plan to escape the 9am-5am and make a living online.
Take a look at any examples you want of people working online. Everyone agrees that AdSense is great, but you should also have other sources of income.