Google AdSense for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide

Google AdSense for Beginners Your Ultimate Guide

Looking to add an extra revenue stream to your website or blog?

Look no further than Google’s Ad-based money-maker, Google AdSense.

Google AdSense is the go-to contextual advertising platform, the most advanced and developed of the bunch.

Want to say that Google AdSense isn’t the only platform out there that lets you monetise your web content. But it’s the market leader, and the only one you’ve most likely heard of. 

What’s Google AdSense?

AdSense is a Google-owned program that allows website owners and bloggers to make money online by displaying ads. You’ve probably come across many of these ads on people’s websites and blogs.

These ads are paid for by advertisers, with Google taking the biggest cut and you, the blogger, taking the smallest. But still, Google AdSense can be a great way to monetise your website or to add an extra stream of income.

How Does Google AdSense Work?

Here’s a basic breakdown of how Google AdSense works.

You apply for a Google AdSense account. Upon approval, you’ll be provided with a code that you can add to your blog or website.

You also get to decide where you want the ads to appear, how you want them to look, and even the type of advertisements that you accept.

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You immediately start earning (based on the views and the number of clicks the ad is getting). Once you get to Google’s minimum threshold of $100, you can request Google to either deposit the cash directly into your bank account or to send you a paper cheque.

What Type of Ads Does Google AdSense Serve?

The type of ads you’ll receive from Google AdSense will always vary depending on your niche.

You’re also allowed to select ad spaces, or where you want the ads to show. Google will negotiate for those spaces on your behalf. In which case, the highest bidder secures the spot.

The Ads displayed on your site will strictly be or at least closely related to your niche. These ads might slightly vary depending on what type of content you have on that particular webpage.

How Does Google AdSense Find Relevant Ads?

Google AdSense considers keyword phrases while serving these ads. It essentially tries to match the keywords that you’ve optimised your website content for with the keywords the advertiser specified.

The system is designed to analyse keywords, font size, keyword frequency, and the overall structure of your website to determine which ads suit it best.

On the advertiser’s side (on Google Ads), the advertiser has to set keywords, ad placement, and ad sizes.

The input from both the advertiser and publisher are then compared by the Google Display Network to find an ideal match.

The Targeting Options for Google AdSense

  • Contextual Targeting

The Google AdSense system searches for ads based on the keywords you’ve used on a webpage, having matched them with the keywords that the advertiser used on their campaign.

  • Placement Targeting

This is where the advertiser specifies their ad size or placement. It could be on the sidebar, above the page, below the page, and so on.

  • Personalised Targeting

This is where the ads are targeted to users with a specific interest, such as traveling or sports. Users must be allowed to opt out of a personalised ad for privacy compliance.

  • Run of Network

Run of Network allows advertisers to target every website in the AdSense Network, save for explicitly excluded ones.

Two Ways to Make Money From Google AdSense

There are two ways bloggers can make money from Google AdSense.

Based on Impressions: With this option, you get paid based on the number of views the page with the ad receives. How many eyeballs does the page with the ad attract?

Based on Clicks: With this option, you only get paid when someone clicks on your ads. One caveat, though: clicking on your own ads to trick Google into paying you, will only get your Google AdSense banned (we’ll be delving much into this later). 

How Google AdSense Payments Work

Google has a minimum payment threshold of $100. You need to earn this amount in ad revenue to be paid by Google.

You also want to remember that Google makes payments 30 days after your invoice is due (net 30 term of payment). That means you have to wait for 30 days for your ad revenue to be sent to you.

Meaning, your September ad revenue (in case it hits the billable amount) will only be sent to you in November (the first week).

How Much Can You Make From Google AdSense?

How much traffic should your site drive to make a decent amount of money off the Google AdSense program?

Perhaps the right question to ask is, how much money do you wish to make off this platform?

Let’s start with $3000 per month. This still puts you in the lower middle class. But it’s decent for a start and easy to calculate.

$3000 per month translates to $100 per day.

Now Gather Some Data

After setting your financial goals, the next thing you want to do is gather some critical data. Bear in mind that the CPC amount you earn will vary depending on the niche you’re in.

If you’re in a mid-range CPC niche, then you can earn about $0.25 with every click you get. This amount can be high in some niches and very low in others.

While some niches earn as low as $0.01 per click, others earn as much as $20 per click. In most cases, the niches that pay high CPC may require you to target a particular niche audience that’s not easy to come by.

After figuring out your CPC, the next thing you want to figure out is your click-through rate (CTR). If you’ve ever run ads before, just go through analytics to get a sense of how this works.

However, if you never have, then your only choice is to run the ads and find out what your CTR is. In most cases, the CTR tends to hang around 1%.

Do Some Calculations

This is where you do some little bit of maths to find out how much traffic you need to drive to your website per day.

Going with the 1% CTR. That means for every 100 visitors you attract to your site, only one is likely to click on your ad.

In which case, you’ll be earning $0.25 for every 100 visitors you attract to your site.

To make $1, you’ll need 400 visitors.

Now multiply that by 100 since we’re aiming at $100 per day, and that translates to about 40, 000 visitors.

40, 000 views in a day might look like much. But it isn’t when you have 400 blog posts. You only need 100 views on each post, and you’d have met your daily target.

10 Ways to Boost Your CTR and CPC

There are a few actions you can undertake to boost your CTR and CPC. We’ve identified a few in this section of the post:

Place Your Ads in a More Visible Position

Use heat maps and activity trackers to identify strategic positions with most clicks. The goal is to avoid banner blindness by placing your ads where they can be easily seen and clicked.

Use Larger Ad Formats

These ads come with no guarantee, especially when they interrupt your content. But they’re better off than small ads easily slipped out of the way.

Avoid Strange-Shaped Ads

These ads stand out. But they’re rarely picked by advertisers. Meaning, there’ll be fewer ads and reduced payments for them.

Rotate Your Ads

About changing your Ad Content, Google will automatically do it for you. What we’re referring to here is you changing your ad position, so users don’t get bored with them. Place them at different strategic locations and note the difference in the reaction they generate.

Try to Reduce Your Bounce Rate and Work on Increasing the Amount of Time Users Spend on Your Website

The easiest way to go about this is to work on your internal links and focus on generating more in-depth content. The more time people hang on your website, the more they’re exposed to your ads, and the more likely they’ll be tempted to click on it.

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Implement a Custom Google Search Box

After your website grows, you can implement a custom Google search box. That way, Google can display their paid search results ads in your website’s results for an extra ad unit (read: more ad money).

Expand Your Niche

It’s good to be niche-specific while you’re starting out. But after you’ve established your authority and cemented your place in your niche market, you can branch out by looking for a similar niche or related one with a higher CPC. However, you want to make sure you’re picking a niche that’s so similar to your current niche to avoid rebranding or using excessive marketing effort.

Serve both Mobile and Mobile-capable Ads

If you can’t serve either of these, then you should at least consider implementing those lucrative little banners.

Restrict Geographic Targeting

Restrict your ads primarily to English-first countries such as Australia and the USA. These countries tend to pay higher CPC compared to countries such as China and India.

Buy Traffic the Legal Way

There’s no harm in paying for traffic. So long as it’s real traffic, not bot-generated one, you can bet Google won’t have any issue with it. What this means is that you can buy traffic through Facebook ads, as opposed to buying it from a guy on Fiverr or Seoclerk.

On the flip side, this is a line you’d want to tread more carefully, considering purchased traffic tends to have a lower CTR that could cut into your profits. It also robs the leeway to make money off the traffic you get, considering you’ll be paying to gain it rather than using organic means.

12 Eligibility Criteria for Google AdSense

Google AdSense is a great way to make some pocket change from a mi-sized blog or website. But it does come with its share of possible pitfalls that you may have to contend with.

Besides needing a decent amount of traffic to make any serious money on the platform, you want to make sure that you’re meeting all of Google’s eligibility requirements for AdSense, as listed below:

You Must Be Above 18 Years

Google AdSense is only eligible for those above the legal age of 18 years. So as a precocious 16-year-old with a site, you must wait until you’re at least 18 years of age to start earning through the platform. Alternatively, you can use your parent’s information to register as you wait until you’re older to apply as yourself.  

You Must Own the Site and Be in Full Control of It

You cannot monetise someone else’s website or content. You must be in control of your site and all of its content. In other words, any attempt to publish content that does not belong to you puts you at risk of getting banned from Google AdSense platform.

The only exception to this is when your site has syndication rights to republish content from a few selected sources.

Your Website Must Be Unique and Interesting

Google will first analyse your website content before approving it for AdSense. If they find out that your website is filled with scraped content or thin pages or content that doesn’t serve any value to the reader, then it’s no hard guess that they’ll decline your application. Nothing is scary, though—the bar isn’t that high. Just pick a niche and focus on giving people something they might actually like.

Your Site’s Navigation Must Be Clear

Navigation is what makes it possible for users to find their way around your website’s content. So, before Google approves your site or blog for AdSense, they’ll first have their team review it for navigation.

During the review process, here what Google expects your site to have:

  • A navigation bar or menu that’s easy to access
  • A menu bar with correctly lined up elements
  • Easy-to-read text on your bar
  • Drop-downs, links, and elements that work correctly, as intended

The “standard web design” everyone talks about doesn’t work with Google. You’re free to use anything that makes sense. Whether it’s an inverted sidebar, footer menu, or a vertical sidebar, provided it’s functional and straightforward, Google will not hold it against you.

No Fake Traffic

This one is pretty obvious.

You cannot outsmart Google. Whatever trick you think you can use to game the Google system into giving you free money, just know they’re several miles ahead of you.

Fake traffic will not just get your application rejected; it will get you banned from ever using the platform.

Google’s Content Policy

Google has a content policy that dictates what type of content you can or cannot monetise with its AdSense program.

In this policy, they have clearly stated that they do not monetise pornography, adult content, excessive profanity, malware, threats, shock content, drug content, hacking content, weapon sales, and more.

Google will never accept your application if your content falls in any of the following categories:

  • Violent content
  • Pornography content
  • Healthcare related content
  • Drug-related content
  • Alcohol-related content
  • Hacking content
  • Misrepresentative content
  • Illegal content
  • Recreational drugs
  • Tobacco-related content
  • compensation programs
  • Weapon-related content
  • Healthcare-related content
  • Violent content
  • Content that Encourage or enables dishonest behaviour

You Cannot Monetise Copyrighted Content

Every piece of content that you publish on your website – whether text, image or video – should not bear any copyright claim. You have to make sure you have full permission to use the content for Google to approve your AdSense account.

Here’s the thing:

Your pages must contain the content you wrote yourself, images that you created yourself, and a logo that you either paid someone to create for you or which you created yourself. Any attempt to use someone else’s material, without first asking for their permission, will not only get you rejected or but also banned from ever accessing your AdSense account.

You Must Blog or Write in One of the Supported Languages

Google only supports a small selection of languages for its AdSense program. They’re doing this to make sure your ads are readable to those viewing them.

You’re allowed to use bilingual language with an unsupported language. However, you have to make sure the majority of your content is in one of their supported languages.

Here’s a listed of languages that are supported for Google AdSense:

1.   Arabic

2.   Bengali

3.   Bulgarian

4.   Catalan

5.   Chinese (simplified and traditional)

6.   Croatian, Czech

7.   Danish

8.   Dutch

 

9.   English

10.Estonian

11.Filipino

12.Finnish

13.French

14.German

15.Greek

16.Hebrew

17.Hindi

18.Hungarian

19.Indonesian

20.Italian

 

 

21.Japanese

22.Korean

23.Latvian

24.Lithuanian

25.Malay

26.Marathi

27.Norwegian

28.Polish

29.Portuguese

30.Romanian

31.Russian

32.Serbian

 

33.Slovak

34.Slovenian

35.Spanish (traditional and Latin American)

36.Swedish

37.Tamil

38.Telugu

39.Thai

40.Turkish

 

41.Ukrainian

42.Urdu

Vietnamese

You have to note that some of these languages are supported for Google AdSense, but their support doesn’t extend to the AdSense dashboard. Plus, Google is in the process of rolling out its support in other languages.

Google Will Never Approve a Site with an Abusive Experience

Not just reject, Google will ban any site that has a history of being manipulative, false, harmful, or misleading. In other words, Google has zero-tolerance for any site that’s ever been involved in any form of malpractice or misconduct:

 Examples of these practises include:

  • Any site that lures users to click on their ads using page elements such as system warnings, chat apps, and dialogues boxes. To keep it short, Google is against anything misleading.
  • A section of a page that’s clickable even though there’s no indicator for that.
  • Misleading buttons and links. For instance, using a next page arrow that redirects users to a landing page instead.
  • Scripts that manipulate browser history, resulting in a back button that redirects users to a landing page instead.
  • Any attempt to lure users into clicking a button or link by making them believe that they have already clicked on it
  • Any sort of malware installed on your website

Basically, any scamming attempt to get users to do something that they’re not aware of is enough to get your Google AdSense account banned.

Unofficial Eligibility Requirements for Google AdSense

Google has officially documented all the above eligibility requirements. However, there are a few that are not exactly documented but might be the reason your application never gets approved.

Your Website Must Have Technical Pages

Google hasn’t documented this anywhere. But it’s one of the few factors that might actually get your application rejected.

A technical page, in this case, refers to the big three: an about us, privacy policy, and contact us pages.

An about us page is encouraged because it helps to build trust by informing your users about who you are and the legitimacy of your brand. The same applies to your contact page. By providing your phone number and address, you make your business appear more trustworthy.

Your Website Must Be At Least Six Months Old

This is another one of Google’s Unwritten policies that could also affect the outcome of your application.

Google AdSense was a snap to apply when they were starting. But people began to take advantage of the system by submitting tons of low-quality websites. So, they decided to raise their standards.

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They had to tighten their vetting process – and even though you can still get a one-month site approved, it’s an uphill battle when your site is new.

Sufficient Traffic for Your Website

Other factors held constant; Google will never reject your site for not having enough traffic. But there are times when they might be tempted to.

Additionally, you can’t earn enough when your website is not driving enough traffic. So yes, you need to work on your web traffic first before you even think of applying for a Google AdSense account.

How to Apply for a Google AdSense Account

  • Assuming your site meets all the 12 Google AdSense eligibility criteria, the next thing you want to do is to proceed with the application process.
  • At the top-right corner of the page, click on get started, and you’ll be directed to a page that prompts you to enter your site’s URL and email address. You’ll also be asked to check between two boxes: the first allows Google to send you customised email messages on how to optimise your website’s content for Adsense, while the second one prohibits them from doing so.
  • On the next page, you’ll be provided with all the instructions you need to connect your site with Google AdSense. You’ll also be provided with a snippet code that you’ll need to add in between your head tags (<head></head>). You’ll be provided with a clear, step-by-step guide on how to do this.
  • Complete the form provided, which requires you to give Google more information on your site’s content.
  • You’ll also be guided on how to insert this code on your WordPress site. Once you’ve inserted this code, go ahead and click on “submit.”
  • That’s pretty much like it. Your site is now ready for review. However, you have to make sure the code snippet remains on your site until the review is done or until you hear from Google AdSense.

The response period may range from a day to two weeks. So, learn to exercise patience

How to Tell if Your Google AdSense Account Has Been Approved

Of course, you’ll be notified via email. But in case you miss to see that, you can log into your AdSense account. If you see ad stats, that means your account has been approved.

What Happens After Your Google AdSense Applications Gets Rejected?

When your application gets rejected, you have two things to try out.

Fix the Suggested Issues and Reapply

Google will not just reject your application. They’ll specify all the issues that prompted their decision and even offer you a chance to fix it and reapply. Remember that there’s no limit as to the number of times you can reapply. Every time Google rejects your application, just fix all the suggested issues and reapply again and again until they finally approve it.

Try Applying With Alternative Ad Networks

Google AdSense is not the only Ad Networks you can apply with. There are so many alternatives, less strict and not quite as rigid as Google AdSense.  

Don’t despair when one door closes. Just try another as you wait to reapply and see what happens. 

Google AdSense Alternatives

Here are more Ad Networks that are less strict than Google Analytics:

Media.net

Yahoo powers this Ad Network. It’s quite similar to Google AdSense, with a higher CPM than any other AdSense alternative on the list. Plus, it’s less strict and easy to get approved so long as you run a quality blog.

Advantages of Media.net

  • You’ll earn an additional 10% for the first three months
  • Minimum Payout: $100
  • Payment Method: Payoneer, Bank Wire, PayPal

BidVertiser

BidVertiser is another Google AdSense alternative that pays for the valid clicks that the ads on your website get. It’s a great Google AdSense alternative should your AdSense application fail to go through or in case you get banned.

BidVertiser offers all kinds of ads: Text Ads, Banner Ads, Slider Ads. Mobile Ads etc. You can even promote your toolbar and get paid for it.

Minimum Payout: $10

Payment Method: Checks, PayPal

Infolinks

Infolinks is a leading advertising network for in-text ads. Better, new bloggers pocket 70% of the revenue share.

It’s so different from other ad networks and can even run simultaneously with other Ad networks, including Google AdSense.

The platform pays per click, with advertising options such as in-search ads, in-tag ads, in-text ads, and inframe ads.

Minimum Payout: $50

Payment Methods: Wire Transfer, PayPal, Western Union, eCheck, and Payoneer

Google AdWords Vs. Google AdSense: What’s the Difference?

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The main difference between Google AdWords is while Google AdWords is an advertising platform for advertisers, Google AdSense is a monetisation platform for publishers.

In other words, Google AdWords was created for Advertisers, while Google AdSense was created for web publishers.

When you need to advertise your business or products on Google, Google Display Network, as well as the Google Search Network, the platform to visit is Google AdWords.

If you plan to drive targeted traffic to your site in the hopes that this traffic may convert to sales, then the platform to use is Google AdWords.

Google AdSense, on the other hand, is all about monetising your blog or website. It’s a platform that’s solely reserved for publishers. Publishers receive part of the advertising money every time someone clicks on an ad, as the rest goes to Google.

If your website has enough visitors or readers, Google AdSense can be a great way to generate some revenue on the side.

More Differences Between Google AdWords (Google Ads) and Google AdSense

The Two Were Launched at Different Times

Google Ads have been around for longer.

They were first introduced in 2000, while Google AdSense was launched in 2003.
This makes Google AdWords three years older than Google AdSense.

Different Ways of Setting up Your Account

How you set up your Google Ads account isn’t the same way you also set up your Google AdSense account.

If anything, setting up a Google Ads account is way easier – more like signing up on Facebook. All you have to do is create a Gmail account, and then proceed to sign up your Google Ads account using the email and a password. Next, set your currency preference and time, and voila! You have created a Google Ads account.

Google AdSense, on the other hand, is a bit complicated and strict to set up. Plus, you have to wait up to two weeks for your account to be approved before you can proceed with anything.

Pros and Cons of Google AdSense

Pros

  • Completely free to sign up: Google AdSense is a revenue-sharing platform that can only make money if you (the publisher) also makes money.
  • Easy to both use and manage: Google AdSense has a simple dashboard that you can use to create ad units, optimise then, check your monthly earnings, and even experiment with different things.

Cons

  • Straightforward eligibility standards: If your content is original and your site meets all the eligibility criteria documented by Google, your site will be approved even if it’s only one month old.
  • Secure Google Approved Ads: Google does all the safe-checking for you. So, at no point will your site feature obscene or abusive ads.
  • Add multiple blogs, websites, and YouTube channels: Once your AdSense account has been approved, you can link it with multiple blogs, websites, and YouTube channels, and even manage all of them from a single location.
  • Unforgiving if you violate their policies: Any violation of Google AdSense policies will instantly get your account terminated. It may take months for things to get back to normal, or you may even be completely banned from ever using Google AdSense again.
  • Transparency issues: Google has never revealed its revenue sharing percentage. It’s a black box for publishers that want to understand the true potential of their earnings.
  • No Trending features: New technologies such as Ad Refresh and customisable pricing have emerged with many of these ad networks adopting then. But for unknown reasons, Google prefers to keep its AdSense platform simple. They really don’t offer much in terms of ad optimisation features.
  • Second-hand pricing model: While some other Google products such as GAM have adopted a unified first-price auction model, AdSense still uses a generalised, old-fashioned second-price auction. So, instead of the publisher getting the price that the highest bidding advertiser agreed to pay, they have no choice but to contend with the second-highest + 1 cent.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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August 31, 2020

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