AdSense is perhaps the most popular way to make money online but is it for real? Can you still make money with AdSense? Can you make a living out of AdSense?
I will try and give you honest answers based on my experiences as an AdSense publisher but also examples from successful websites that are using AdSense.
- What is Google AdSense?
- How to make money with AdSense?
- Examples of websites making money with AdSense
- Can you make a living with AdSense?
What is Google AdSense?
The majority of Internet users are probably aware of Google AdSense but for the sake of keeping beginners up-to-date here is a quick overview of the program and major benefits:
- It is own by Google
- It’s a major source of income for Google. In 2018 earnings from AdSense were $24.1 billion for Q3 only!
- 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 then 68 cents will go to the publisher and 32 cents to Google.
- The cost per click calculation is based on an auction type system
- It is very easy to use
- It is the most reliable advertising platform on the Internet today and can generate the most revenue for publishers (compared to other similar PPC systems)
- AdSense besides content websites is also available for games, videos, mobiles, and search products.
You can find out more details about Google AdSense in the AdSense Help Center.
How to make 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?
- You need a content-rich website
- You need a high-quality website
- You need a LOT of traffic
- You need to target the right keywords
- You need to fully comply with AdSense policies
- You need to have a website with a purpose and not an MFA (made for AdSense) website
1. You need a content-rich website
AdSense loves content-rich websites. Content can be of any kind (text, images, videos), and provided that it does not violate the AdSense content policies.
It is suggested though to have text content on the pages so that the AdSense crawler can understand what the page is all about.
AdSense is more suitable for websites that publish articles, case studies, how-to guides (like this one), and blogs.
Having a rich-content blog with content that helps people learn something or accomplish a specific task, is one of the best ways to make money with AdSense. If you don’t already have a blog, the resources below will help you get started.
Resources to help you get started with blogging:
- How to make a website: A tutorial for building your first professional looking website!
- WordPress Blog Guide: A step by step guide on how to get started with WordPress Blogging
- How to start a blog and make money: A comprehensive guide on how to set up a blog and start publishing content with the purpose of making money online.
- How to make money with a blog: A step by step guide for beginners on how to make money with AdSense and other popular methods.
- How to make money using digital marketing: Effective ways to make money online.
2. You need a high-quality website
It’s not enough to publish content that does not violate AdSense content policies but you also need to provide high-quality content on a high-quality website.
Google is liable 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 the last couple of years, they have more strict policies on the type of websites you can run AdSense.
3. You need a LOT of traffic
AdSense is a good way to make money online and it is perhaps the easiest method provided that you have a good amount of quality traffic coming to your website.
I cannot give you an exact number because the amount of money you can make depends on the earnings per click (EPC) and click-through rate (CTR), but I don’t usually advise my clients to run AdSense on websites that have less than 300-400 unique visits per day.
In general, though, the more targeted traffic you have, the more money you can make with AdSense.
4. You need to target the right keywords
If you target the right keywords in your content then you can make more money with AdSense or with any other advertising platform.
What are the right keywords? Keywords that are:
(1) used by advertisers to promote their products – so the competition is greater and this raises the earnings per click (EPC)
(2) action keywords – action keywords are more effective since the users are more likely to ‘take action’ i.e. convert after they click.
Let’s look at the following example:
Assume that you have 2 websites in the weight loss niche that are running AdSense. Both websites receive the same amount of organic traffic and they have the ads in the same positions.
The first one is getting visitors searching for: ‘weight loss tips’, ‘how to lose weight’, ‘lose belly fat’ and the other one 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 with AdSense because more advertisers are interested in those keywords so the number of available relevant ads will be greater.
Users are also likely to click the ads more often since users looking for tips or solutions to their problem are more likely to click on a relevant ad than users who are searching for general information.
This is also the reason why organic traffic is considered to be more valuable than any other form of traffic i.e. because it is highly targeted and converts better.
5. You need to fully comply with AdSense policies
As I said above, AdSense represents 1/4 of Google’s revenue so they take the whole program very seriously. While it is relatively easy for everyone to get an AdSense account, if you don’t play by their rules 100% you risk losing your account.
Even if you are an existing or new AdSense publisher make sure that you read their policies before implementing AdSense on your website.
Remove from your mind any ideas for tricking the system and always remember that they have hired the best people to make sure that nobody will be able to bypass their rules and policies.
6. You need to have a website with a purpose and not an MFA (made for AdSense) website
While AdSense is a great way to monetize a website, websites that are made for the sole purpose of running AdSense ads are not favorable by Google.
I have mentioned this in a previous post: 5 reasons you are not making money online and what is important to understand is that your website or blog needs to have a clear purpose that goes beyond making money with AdSense.
Yes, you can use AdSense to make money from an established blog that has lots of traffic and visitors.
You can also use AdSense to make some extra money from your website while selling your own products and services, but it’s not a very good idea to make a blog and start publishing mediocre content for the sole purpose of getting organic visits and then run AdSense to make money.
In the past this model may have worked, but not anymore.
Examples of websites making money with AdSense
To be more precise let me give you a couple of examples from websites that make money with AdSense.
While reading the examples try to relate these websites with what I have explained above and try to understand how they have applied in practice all the guidelines.
Example 1: Digital Photography School
DPS is owned by Darren Rowse, the all famous Australian ProBlogger. Darren was among the first people who managed to make a living online and if you read his story and income spread, AdSense played a very important role especially in the beginning.
Let’s see how he is utilizing AdSense on DPS.
He is using a number of Ads per page. One of the ads is ‘above the fold’ and others are below the fold but in the main content area. He also has an ad in the sidebar.
Example 2: Calorie Secrets
I also use Adsense on caloriesecrets.net. Instead of charging for the products we are offering (calorie counter, food tracker, diet plan), we decided to have the products free and use AdSense to monetize our content.
I am using 3 AdSense ads per page, 1 above the fold, 1 below, and 1 in the sidebar.
What is common in all the above websites?
After seeing the above examples, can you tell what they have in common?
- They are content-rich websites, offering top quality content
- They have lots of traffic
- They fully comply with Adsense policies.
- They fully comply with webmaster guidelines
- Although they have Ads above the fold, they are not interfering or damaging the user experience
- They all have their ads in the main content and sidebar. The reason is simple: Click-through Rate (CTR) in the main content area is greater than the sidebar and this translates to more clicks i.e. more money from AdSense.
- They all offer other services/products and are not operating for the sole purpose of running AdSense.
Can you make a living with AdSense?
I have 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 expenses?
The answer is NO. The reason is not that you cannot make thousands of dollars per month with AdSense and make a good living, but because you cannot rely on a single 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 exist forever.
Maybe it will, but you cannot base your income on it. Diversifying your risks and spreading your revenues is always the best practice either online or offline.