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Monday, October 7, 2019

The complete guide to Google Adsense

Following is what I'm boldly declaring to be the complete guide to Google Adsense. I'm filing this post under the Careers in web development and online marketing, Careers in marketing, and Entrepreneurship categories. I'm also filing this under the Writing category, since it's helpful to have solid writing skills to take advantage of this neat money-making opportunity that the Google Adsense program offers. Specifically, you may want to check out these previous posts before diving deeper into this one, as they make for helpful prerequisites: Career options with writing skills, How to be successful at blogging, Making your own Web site, and The ability to write a valuable job skill.  

You may or may not have heard of the Google Adsense program, but I can pretty much guarantee you that you've seen it in action countless times without knowing its name. Whenever you visit a Web site or blog and you see text and/or image ads displayed, chances are they are a part of the Adsense platform. The ads might even say something like, "Ads by Google."

Anyways, in short, the program brings advertisers (businesses that are paying Google for online advertising space) and publishers (bloggers and Web masters who are willing to devote some of the space on their sites to featuring advertisements) together. In exchange for publishers featuring these ads on their sites, Google pays the publishers every time visitors to their sites click on the ads. And actually, there's another way to potentially be paid by Google without the need to have your ads clicked on. They're called CPM ads, and we'll learn about them shortly. So, that's the general gist of it. Of course, Google has many safeguards in place to prevent abuse and outright fraud from occurring. These safeguards protect both the individual advertiser from paying for fraudulent clicks, as well as the overall integrity and trustworthiness of the program.

Note that you have to be at least 18 years old to set up a Google Adsense account.

This post is pretty long. We're covering a lot of ground here, so I'm attempting to break it up with headers by topic and subtopic, as well as with a number of Adsense tutorial videos I've pulled from YouTube. If you're confused on anything, feel free to leave your questions and concerns in the comments section at the bottom of this post, and let's see what we can do to help you out. Enjoy!



Text heavy pages? Consider adding image ads

If you have a text heavy page and would like to add some visual components for a little variety, consider adding image or rich media ads from the program. Not only will image ads help to break up the monotony of the page, but they can also create a stream of revenue that takes very little effort to implement and maintain.

To add some image or rich media ads to your text heavy pages, you’ll need to be a member of the Google Adsense for publishers program. Applying is fairly easy to do, and you’ll know whether or not you’ve been accepted after a short waiting period, during which time a Google employee will assess your Web site.

Once you have been accepted into the program and are able to log into your Adsense account, you’ll need to create a new ad unit. Simply click on “My ads” and then “New ad unit”. From here, you’ll be able to choose from a number of ad sizes (larger ones tend to draw more attention) and set your ad type. To stop text ads from showing in your ad slot, be sure to choose “Image/rich media ads only” from the appropriate drop down menu. You’ll also be able to add custom channels to the ad unit to help you track its performance.

When you have finished creating your new ad unit, you will be given a piece of code that will need to be included in your page’s HTML wherever you want the ads to appear. Depending on the program you’ve used to create your site, you may need to switch to the HTML view before adding the code. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to display up to three ad units per page.



The main concern voiced by Web masters who have yet to add image ads to their pages is whether they will affect the page’s loading time. Because image ads must be sized at 50KB or smaller, most pages won’t see more than a negligible difference. All images and rich media ad content are also hosted on Google’s servers, so there is no need to worry about the ads filling up your valuable disk space.

Because text heavy pages often lack the necessary visual component to hold the attention of your visitors, it can sometimes be beneficial to add image or rich media ads to the pages. Doing so can both break up the monotonous look of the text heavy pages and help you to generate a little money at the same time.

Increase your earnings by choosing top performing ad sizes

If you're hoping to increase your Web site's revenue by tweaking your ad units, then you've probably thought about testing the various ad sizes to see which ones will work best on your site. That said, with so many ad sizes to choose from – 18 in all, not including the regional ad sizes – it can be hard to know where to start. So, how can a publisher effectively narrow down such a large number of ad sizes to be left with a more manageable selection?

Well, one way to narrow down the large selection is by prioritizing the ad sizes that are considered top performers by Google. Thankfully, it's easy to find Adsense's top performing ad sizes. Simply read through the Adsense Guide to Ad Sizes, found at https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6002621, and pay special attention to the information that states which ad sizes are considered top performers and which are not.

According to Google, the top performing ad sizes are the 300x250 medium rectangle, the 336x280 large rectangle, the 728x90 leaderboard, the 300x600 half page, and the 320x100 large mobile banner. Please note that from this list, only the medium rectangle and the large mobile banner are currently formatted for use on high-end mobile devices. Also note that while the medium rectangle is formatted for all types of screens including mobile devices, the large mobile banner is aimed solely at mobile devices.



If instead of choosing a specific ad size you'd rather let Google dynamically decide which size of ad to display on your site, then consider using a responsive ad in your design. For this option, simply select the "Responsive" ad type when creating an ad. Though not officially listed as one of Adsense's top performing ad sizes, responsive ads tend to perform well because they automatically adapt to most screen sizes. While responsive ads are intended to be used on responsive sites, it's worth noting that they can also be used without issue on non-responsive sites.

Though the Adsense Guide to Ad Sizes provides a wealth of valuable information, it's important to remember that it contains sweeping generalizations that may not be true for all sites. Because of this, the most complete results tailored to your particular site can only be obtained by testing every available ad size on your actual site. For those of you who don't have the time or patience to test them all, consider displaying a responsive ad or an ad with dimensions matching one of Google's top performing ad sizes. By following this simple suggestion, it's entirely possible that you'll increase your overall Adsense earnings.

Increasing revenue: Color choices matter

There are many tips and tricks around the Internet for increasing Adsense publisher revenues. Though the number of visitors a Web site receives accounts for a large part of their potential earnings, there are other ways to ensure you are getting the most out of the visitors that you do receive. One important factor that everyone should definitely be testing is the color palette of their ads.

Now, since every site is different, it is impossible to know which color combinations will work best with your site, unless you have taken the time to test different color palettes. Four tests all Adsense publishers should undergo include blending your ads, complimenting your ads, contrasting your ads, and using standard link colors within your ads. Once you find which of these three work best with your site, you can continue to tweak your color choices until you have found the perfect combination.

Blending

With ads everywhere you turn on the Internet these days, it’s no wonder that people have developed ad blindness. Instead of looking at the ads, most people just pass right over most ads, never really noticing them. If you think this might be happening on your Web site, you may want to consider blending your ads.

Creating a color palette that blends with your site is simple. First, set the border and background of the ads to the same color as your site's background. Then, set the text and url of the ads to the same color you use for the majority of text on your site. Last, use the same color of your site’s links for the ad’s title area.

Blending your ads will make your advertisements look more like your site’s content, making it less likely that your visitors pass by them without giving them a second thought. With more people actually reading your ads, it is more likely that your visitors will find an ad that interests them, increasing your click through rate, and, in turn, your revenue.

Complementing

On some Web sites, it can be a problem if the ads are too well blended with the content. This is especially true for sites that contain mostly long, text-filled pages, because the average person will skim quickly over the content when they are faced with a lot of words. In cases like these, it can prove beneficial to complement your ads instead of blending them into the page.

To make a complementing color palette for your ads, use the colors already found around your site, but be sure to set the border and background in your ads to a different color than your site’s actual background color. This will set your ad apart from the content, helping to draw attention to your ads while still matching the overall look and feel of your site.

Contrasting

There are also times when contrasting your ads with the rest of your Web site’s content will make for the highest click through rate. This is often the case for sites that use a dark background, but regardless of your site’s background color, it’s always best to test each option, while deciding which works best with your site.

To create a contrasting color palette, simply choose colors that stand out from your site’s background. Sites with dark pages should use light or bright colored backgrounds and borders in their ads, while light colored sites should choose darker colors. It is not mandatory to use your site's colors within these ads, but you can, should you choose to.

Using standard link colors

Another popular way for Adsense publishers to increase their advertising revenue is to use the Internet’s default link color, blue (hexadecimal color code #0000FF). The idea is, because people associate Internet links with this shade of blue, that they will more readily notice the link, and, in turn, click on it more often.

The other default link color you may want to test with your ads is the Internet’s default color for visited links, purple (hexadecimal color code #800080). This can also drive an increase in revenue, because most people associate this particular shade of purple with links to pages that they have already visited. Previously visited pages are not often associated with ads, so using the visited link shade of purple can help to avoid ad blindness and draw more attention to your ads, leading to more clicks.

A word of caution, however – the default color palette that Google provides when creating a new ad has nothing to do with the default linking colors that are standard among browsers. Adsense has also been known to change their default color palette in the past, so it is always best to create a custom palette to ensure your ads show the colors you desire.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing a color palette. To find out which one works best for you, it is important to utilize channels in your Adsense account, and it is recommended that you use A/B split testing. Split testing allows you to run two color palettes simultaneously, making it easy to determine which colors receive the higher click through rate.

To get the most accurate results, it is also important to leave each test running until you have received a large number of hits. The longer each test is run, the more data you will compile, allowing for a more accurate average to emerge. Testing is a key part of any Adsense publisher’s success, so be sure to test your color palettes and start earning more today.



Low Adsense CTR? Aim for higher CPM earnings

If you aren’t receiving many clicks to your ad units, despite having spent countless hours testing new sizes, colors, and placements, you might want to change your approach and try maximizing your earnings with CPM ads instead. Because CPM ads pay on a cost-per-thousand-impressions basis, the more impressions your ads receive, the more money you can potentially make – even without anyone clicking on your ads.

The key here is maximizing your total ad impressions, so doing everything you can to increase your hits is important. So, how can you increase your total hits? There are several ways to go about increasing your impressions, but one of the easiest is linking to additional or related information found on a separate page of your Web site. Linking to additional information will not only increase your Adsense impressions, but it will also help to keep your original page less cluttered.

Another simple way to increase impressions is to split long articles over two pages. This should not only increase your total hit count, but it will also make your pages load faster and the information seem less daunting to the reader. Be cautious when using this technique, however, because too many splits in an article can have the opposite effect and actually frustrate your visitors instead.

It is important to note that it is against Adsense terms and conditions to artificially generate ad impressions. If you are trying to increase your hits to maximize your CPM earnings, make sure that any and all additional pages that you are linking to on your site contain enough supplementary or related information to be useful to your visitors.

If you are wondering how you can get these CPM ads on your site, it’s easy. Simply insert the ad unit code on your page as usual, and Google will show a combination of CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost-per-thousand-impression) ads within the ad slot. It is not currently possible to choose only CPC or CPM ads when creating an ad unit, and, despite some misconceptions, Google employees have verified that both image and text ads are used in CPM campaigns.

So, if you are looking for a way to increase your revenues, but you can’t seem to get any clicks no matter what you try, you should consider increasing your ad impressions as a way of maximizing your CPM earnings. By linking to additional or related information on your site and splitting up long articles across two pages, you can increase your total ad impressions and, ultimately, your total earnings.

Why don’t my ads match my content?

There are a few reasons that your ads may appear to be unrelated to your content. Sometimes, the problem can fix itself, while other times, it can take some effort on your part to get your ads to match up with your Web site’s content. By figuring out why your Adsense ads don’t match your content, you will be able to serve more useful ads to your visitors, and, in turn, earn more money with the Google Adsense program.

The easiest ad matching problem to fix occurs most often on new sites, but it can also happen on newly created pages of established sites. Because the Adsense crawler hasn’t yet visited the page, it doesn’t know what the content is about. This uncertainty can lead to unrelated ads appearing on your site. Luckily, it isn’t necessary to change anything to remedy this problem. More often than not, the problem will solve itself once your site is crawled by the Adsense spider.

If your site has already been crawled by the spider, but you are still being served unrelated ads, then it will probably take a little effort before you start seeing ads that match the content of your site.

First, you’ll want to look closely at your content. Is there enough content on each page to draw matching advertisements? Having little written content can make it difficult for Adsense to serve matching ads. Consider adding more text to the page so that the crawler can make a more informed decision about which ads it should be displaying.

The next thing you’ll want to look at is the content itself. Is your content narrow in scope, or does your page contain a wide variety of topics? Having too many topics on the same page can confuse the crawler, leaving your page with ads unrelated to the content. Try to focus on one topic per page if you want your ads to closely match the surrounding content.

If you have plenty of content written about a single topic, but you are still getting unrelated ads, then it might be worth optimizing your keywords.

There is another problem that could be causing your unrelated ads to appear, and, unfortunately, it isn’t a problem that you will be able to solve. If your topic is of a more obscure nature, then it will be harder for Adsense to display matching ads. In fact, some of the most obscure topics don’t even have related ads to serve, and, as such, only unrelated ads will appear on the page. Don’t worry, however - should an advertiser start a campaign in your niche, their related ads will automatically appear on your site.

There are a number of reasons why your site might be receiving unrelated ads. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to help solve the problem, like adding additional content and optimizing your keywords. If for some reason you still can’t get matching ads however, it isn’t the end of the world. Your site will still be displaying ads, meaning you will still have the chance to earn decent money with the program. 



Should I block sensitive categories of ads?

The sensitive categories in Adsense cover a number of topics including cosmetic procedures and body modification, dating, drugs and supplements, get rich quick, politics, references to sex and sexuality, religion, ringtones and downloadables, sexual and reproductive health, video games, and weight loss. Should you block these sensitive categories of Adsense ads from appearing on your Web site? The answer to this will depend on a couple of factors.

One of the most common reasons for blocking sensitive categories is to create a more family-friendly site. If you are looking to stop any potentially harmful ads from appearing on the pages of your site, then you will probably want to block some or all of the sensitive ad categories that are listed within your Adsense account’s “Allow & block ads” page.

Another reason that you may wish to block certain sensitive categories from appearing on your site is to boost your income from the program. Google provides details about the percentages of ad impressions and earnings for each category over the past 30 days. If you find that one or more of the categories are being served for a large percentage of your total impressions, but aren’t receiving much or any earnings, then blocking such categories can lead to higher revenues.

It is important to monitor your statistics closely, however, because blocking sensitive categories can sometimes lead to undesired results and actually lower your income overall. Allowing less advertisers to compete for your ad space could cause a drop in earnings, so be aware of this, as you may wish to unblock the sensitive categories if your total earnings start to slide.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be considering blocking sensitive categories of ads from appearing on your site. Whether this is because you are trying to create a family-friendly site or you are just looking for a way to increase your total revenue, it’s nice to know that Google offers its publishers the option of blocking sensitive categories. Be sure to weigh your options and make the choice that feels right for you. 

So, how often does Google Adsense pay?

Most new publishers who have added Adsense to their Web sites wonder how often they can expect to be paid by Google. The answer to this question depends on two factors – how much income your site generates through the program and whether or not this figure meets the minimum payment threshold.

The minimum payment threshold is the balance that Adsense requires you to have in your account before they issue a payment. Everyone’s payment threshold is automatically set to $100US upon creating an account, and, unfortunately, this amount cannot be reduced.

If, like some publishers, your bank charges a large fee to convert US dollar checks into your home currency and you would like to wait until your earnings have reached a higher amount to help offset this charge, you can always apply a self-hold to your earnings. This will allow your earnings to keep building up in your account until you have chosen to lift the hold at a later date.

Because of the way the platform is set up, publishers are not sent their payments immediately after reaching the payment threshold of $100US. Instead, any additional earnings will continue to add up until the end of the month. Payments are then sent out monthly to qualifying publishers, just before the end of the month following the account reaching payment threshold.

To better illustrate this, we will look at a simple example. Any accounts reaching the payment threshold during the month of May are paid at the end of the following month, in this case June. The particular date that Google issues their payments can change slightly each month, but payment almost always falls during the final week of the month.

Now, as you have probably realized, most new publishers using the program will not be able to accrue the $100US needed for payment within their first month. Not to worry, however, because any earnings that do not reach the payment threshold will continue to roll over month-by-month, for as long as it takes the account balance to qualify for payment.

Though payments are sent out monthly, in the month following the account reaching the payment threshold, delivery times will vary depending on the payment method you have chosen. Some forms of payment, like Electric Funds Transfer (EFT), will arrive more quickly, while other methods, like Standard Delivery Checks, will take longer to arrive.

So, as you can see, there are numerous factors which will determine how often you will be paid by Google through its Adsense program. By knowing a little bit more about each of these factors, you will be better able to estimate just how often you, as an Adsense publisher, will receive your payments.

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