While browsing the Web for business or pleasure, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of sites have groups of links or display ads that say “Ads by Google” under them. Maybe you’ve clicked on a few, or even ended up buying something from one of those linked sites.
Obviously, the owners of the retail or other site you end up at makes money if you buy something. But did you know the original site that hosted that ad is getting a cut, too, even if you don’t make a purchase?
AdSense is the leader in what’s called contextual advertising, and not only is it a great way for businesses to get website traffic and sales (via advertising with AdWord), it’s also a way for website owners and blog publishers to earn money by hosting ads on their relevant pages and posts. Recently, I wrote on the SiteHatchery.com blog about Pay Per Click, or PPC, advertising campaigns. This is the other side of that coin. And in the case of AdSense, I believe it can be a win-win.
The way it works for AdSense publishers or bloggers is, simply: Google takes a percentage of the advertising dollars associated with a click, and passes the rest along to you. Some ads only pay a few cents per click while others can pay several dollars for just one click. It has a lot to do with competition as well as the actual value of the product and service being advertised. For example, a click on an ad for a cheap product generally won’t pay out as much as a click on an ad for an expensive product.
Google makes it easy for you, since ads are automatically placed alongside content that is relevant to your site or blog. Thanks to this “contextual” approach, the ads are often of genuine interest to your readers, and you won’t have to worry too much about complaints that you’ve “sold out” by having ads.
Some people actually start websites with the primary goal of making money from the AdSense publishers’ program. There are hundreds of scam artists who promise that you can instantly make six figures off AdSense with no effort or time investment – these people are lying to you. However, with patience, good content and a little luck, it is quite possible to develop a site that will eventually pay off in AdSense revenue. You might not get rich or be able to quit your day job, but you could generate enough monthly income to cover a car payment, or even a mortgage payment.
If you already have a blog, you may have heard people advise you to “monetize” it. That just means to find a way to make money off of your hard work, via AdSense (or a similar program, such as Kontera), affiliate programs (more on those in a future post), selling ebooks and so on.
Signing up for AdSense is pretty simple. It does take a little code finesse to get AdSense rolling on your WordPress blog or website. Your web developer can help you with this, and there are online tutorials available. Alternatively, since Google owns the platform Blogger (and is getting close to owning the entire world) it’s even easier to add ads to an existing Blogger blog – the ads are “blocks,” just like the sidebar elements and other parts of the blog template.
You can customize a lot within your AdSense preferences. You can play with placement, size and some of the colors. You can make the ads “blend” into your template so the blocks don’t look as much like an ad. You can even put AdSense ad blocks into your RSS feed. You can block ads you don’t want, such as those that are from a competitor, are irrelevant or are philosophically distasteful to you. Once you have them set up the way you like, you can track them and see how individual ad units are doing via URL and other very specific “Channels.” Advertisers can choose specifically to advertise on your blog, as well.
There are a few things you can’t do with AdSense ads (for example, there are restrictions on how many blocks you can have per page and what you can put next to them), so be sure to read the Terms and Conditions and keep up with the AdSense blog or you could get banned by Google, which, for publishers who depend on it as a revenue stream, is akin to being exiled to the desert with no food or water.
Be sure to tell Google how you want to be paid! That’s the best part. Once you reach a certain threshold for payout, you’ll get monthly deposits in your checking account (or via paper check or debit card, if you prefer).
There are two cardinal rules for Adsense publishers, however: never click on your own ads, and don’t “beg” for clicks from your friends or site visitors. Google does not like this, and in fact the practice cheats advertisers because they’re paying to reach genuinely interested customers, not you and your click-happy pals. Google knows all and sees all (OK, I’m exaggerating – a bit), and your sites could get banned.
Now, here’s the big caveat: You may or may not make good money with Google AdSense. I have friends who have made just pocket change through the program – maybe 10 or 20 bucks a month. And I know one person here in Chico who consistently makes over $1,000 per month via AdSense and puts in just a few hours a month on her sites – but it took her four years and a lot of work to get to that point.
AdSense can be the ticket to that holy grail of web publishing: passive income. But, as in all types of businesses, it’s best to hedge your bets and diversify. Combine your AdSense experiment with other strategies such as affiliate programs and ebook sales and work on adding good content and building traffic. More traffic means more clicks, which means more dollars.
Have you tried AdSense on your website or blog? I’d love to hear what you think of the program. Please post in the Comments section below.
Posted by: Sitehatchery.com – a Chico web design company providing web design and development services nationwide.