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What Google Never Told You About Making Money With AdSense

What Google Never Told You About Making Money with AdSense. 

The book explained everything I’d discovered over the previous months while testing and experimenting with Google’s AdSense system.

It contained all the strategies, ideas, methods and approaches that I was using on my websites to generate five-figure checks every month from Google.

. Internet publishers couldn’t download it fast enough. They wanted to know what AdSense could do for them.

In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. Google had launched AdSense in June 2003, eighteen months before the ebook came out. Until then, Google had been known mainly as a search engine that produced better results than AltaVista and was easier to use than Yahoo (which shows how long ago 2003 was!). 

It was running ads on its search results, which seemed to be doing well, but no one was sure what effect its contextual advertising program would

have or whether it would be beneficial to anyone.

There was a lot of suspicion — and for good reason.

 It hadn’t been long since the Internet bubble had burst, shattering dreams of dotcom fortunes and wiping out millions of dollars of venture capital. 

After being told that buying a domain and picking up users would build an asset that could be sold for enough cash to buy a house in Cancun — heck, to buy half of South America — Internet companies suddenly discovered they didn’t have enough money to meet payroll.

turn websites into cash cows, and allow people to give away content and still earn money, it was hardly surprising that it met with a touch of cynicism.

We’d heard it before . Critics wondered whether Google would be able to parse pages well enough to

serve ads that users found helpful

And writers noted that contextual ads were all well and good, but it was userbehavior that mattered more. 

A site about literature, for example, might serve

ads for first editions but if it’s used by readers who have come from music sites, it might be smarter to serve ads for study guides and student loans. Google wasn’t tracking that data. (They do now!)

My first experiments with AdSense suggested that the critics were right.

AdSense was a waste of time . My Experiments with AdSense I signed up with AdSense in June 2003, as soon as it became available, serving AdSense off just a few of the pages on my early websites.

By the end of my first day with AdSense, I'd delivered several thousand AdSense impressions and earned the princely sum of… $3.00. I didn’t exactly

burn down the house.

I didn’t see a great deal of potential based on that figure, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to place the AdSense code on more pages. Over the next couple of months, I increased my impressions 25-fold.

But my earnings didn’t go up 25-fold.

The ads were on my site and people were seeing them, but no one was clicking them. And because of the way that Google was paying for the ads — on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis rather than the old cost-per-mille basis that paid a set amount for every thousand impressions whether users clicked them or not — those ads weren’t making money.

 My click through ratios were so bad I needed thousands of visitors to net just $30 per


In April 2004, ten months after signing up for AdSense, I attended an Internet conference. There were about two dozen entrepreneurs there, all looking for ways to make money online. As I was sitting in the conference room, the person

next to me had his laptop open and was looking at his AdSense report.

I could see he was making between $200 and $300 a day — more than ten times what I’d made on one of my best days!

It was one of those eureka moments, one of those times when you wonder how you could have missed something so obvious and so good.

I pulled out my own laptop and right there in that conference room I did what I should have done at the beginning. I started playing with my AdSense code.

I looked again at the different ad unit sizes. I tried out different color schemes.

And I adjusted where the ads appeared on the page.

That day, my AdSense income rocketed to $80, about four times a typical day’s earnings that I had been making until then from AdSense. All of those

impressions I’d been generating were starting to convert into clicks — and those clicks were bringing me real money.

That was when I realized that there really was something to AdSense, that this system really did have the ability to change the Internet.

It could let publishers write about whatever they want, give their content away for free, and still make enough money from advertising to make a very good


The critics were wrong. I’d been wrong. AdSense could work.

So far though, I’d just made a few quick changes to my AdSense units, based on instinct and curiosity. If I was going to maximize my earnings, I needed to know which were the best places on the page for which ad formats, in which colors and on what content. I wanted to understand exactly how AdSense worked so that I could be sure that my Web pages were always making all the money they


Guesswork is fine when you want to play, but I was trying to build an Internet business and that meant taking measurements, keeping records and coming up with strategies that had predictable, repeatable results. I needed

I needed to take an industrial approach to my revenues in the same way that a retail store tracks sales to know which products are the most popular and which shelves they  need to put them on.

So I kept testing. I kept trying new strategies and I kept notes of everything that happened. When an idea succeeded, I extended it to all of my other ads. When it failed, I made a note, and dropped it.

After a few months I was making $500 a day from AdSense and sometimes even  $1,000.

And I found that once the ads were optimized, I didn't have to do another thing.

As long as I continued to put up content, the ads — and the revenues — would take care of themselves.

I wasn’t the only one doing this though. Internet forums at the time were filled with people swapping ideas about what they had found worked for them while using AdSense. Whenever someone came up with an optimization technique that worked, they’d put it on a forum. Whenever someone asked how they could increase their earnings, their question would pick up a long list of answers.

I was sharing my findings too but the forums weren’t particularly userfriendly. If you were already using AdSense, the Internet marketing forums could help with troubleshooting and provide ideas to squeeze more money out of a site. But for people starting up, it was a horrible experience. The forums weren’t guides, and they weren’t meant to be.

A lot of the people I knew, though, needed information that was easier to use.

They wanted to know what AdSense was and how it worked.

That was why the first edition of this book was such a success. Publishers were beginning to realize that AdSense could bring their sites money. It could do

everything that the Web had promised in terms of freedom, independence, enjoyment and revenues, too.

That hunger to learn hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s grown as increasing numbers of people have come to understand what AdSense is, what it can do and what it can do for them.

And so I welcome you to the 6th expanded and updated edition of the world’s

most-read book on how to make money with Google AdSense!

What is AdSense?

AdSense is an Internet advertising system run by Google. Advertisers sign up to Google’s AdWords program and use the system to create an ad. That ad is usually a short text commercial, like a classified, that includes a headline, two short lines of text and a link to a Web page. It might also be in a rich media format such as graphic image or a video.

Usually, the ad looks something like this:

The advertiser sets a monthly budget and decides the maximum amount that they’re willing to pay each time someone clicks on their ad. If no one clicks on their ads, they don’t pay.

The advertisers though don’t usually choose the sites that those ads are going to appear on. It’s an option, but most advertisers don’t take it, preferring instead to influence placement generally through the use of keywords and bid price.

They rely on Google to look at all the relevant websites in its AdWords content network and decide which are the best sites to run their ads.

That’s AdSense’s job. Publishers sign up to AdSense and receive a code that they paste onto their Web pages. That code contains a bunch of information,

including how the publisher wants the ad to appear, whether there are any ads they don’t want, and an identity tag that lets AdSense keep track of earnings,

among other things. 

But the most important task that the AdSense code does is to tell the AdSense system to place an ad in that spot.

AdSense takes the ads that it’s received from AdWords’ advertisers, and distributes them among the publishers and websites that have signed up to

AdSense. Google is pretty cagy about the number of publishers that AdSense serves but in a blog post in 2010, the company mentioned a figure of over one

million. That’s a lot of places to serve those ads.

What makes AdSense really special though isn’t just its size (which helps make it attractive to advertisers.) It’s the matching technology.

Google matches its AdWords ads to its AdSense publishers through a combination of different criteria. The keywords the advertiser has included with their ads will be one criterion. AdSense “reads” each Web page in its content network — the pages that carry AdSense’s code — and matches the keywords on those pages with the keywords supplied by AdWords’ advertisers. It also matches the ads to the keywords entered into the Google search engine, posting the ads next to the search results.

User behavior is another criterion. A page about astronomy, for example, could

show ads for books and telescopes but if AdSense can see that the last three sites the user visited were about astrology, then it might offer an ad for astrology charts as well.

And price will be a factor, too. AdSense multiplies the maximum cost-per- click set by the advertiser with a score based on the ad’s click rate to determine the order in which ads appear in a unit and, in part, on which sites they appear.

Exactly how AdSense makes all these calculations is complex stuff, and Google

doesn’t explain exactly how it does everything. As we’ll see, it is possible to

influence the ads that appear on your Web pages — and it’s important to use that

influence — but for now imagine AdWords as a funnel into which advertisers

pour their ads, and AdSense as the tube through which Google directs the flow

outwards onto Web pages.

Once the ads are on the site, Google charges the advertiser for each click an ad

receives. For ads placed in Web pages, the company passes 68 percent of that

revenue to the publisher, and keeps 32 percent for itself.

The calculations used to distribute the ads might be complex but the principle is

simple enough. And it works. In the first quarter of 2013, Google reported

revenues from its network alone — that’s publishers using AdSense — of $3.26

billion — 25 percent of the company’s total revenues.

That means that just in January, February and March of 2013, Google would

have paid out to its website publishers over $2 billion.

Clearly, not all of those publishers are making a lot of money. But many are.

Google doesn’t cap the amounts that it can pay its publishers so those publishers

who know how to optimize their AdSense units, produce content that people

want to read and bring in visitors can end up holding giant checks. Back in 2006,

Markus Frind, owner of Plenty of Fish, a free dating site, showed off a check

that he’d received from Google for CA $901,733.85.

That check represented just two months’ income


What AdSense Is Not So AdSense is an advertising system.


It’s a program that matches adverts submitted by advertisers to publishers who have signed up to receive them.

It’s the matching technology that ensures users see ads they’re interested in that has made AdSense such a huge success.

But AdSense is open to everyone. Google will check a site that applies to join the AdSense program but as long your site isn’t pornographic, hateful, violent or generally nasty, Google will give you the chance to earn from AdSense.

And that’s the best description of AdSense: it’s an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity that anyone can take and anyone can make the most of. You don’t have to be a website developer, a technology geek or the neighbor of someone who once went to school with a leading venture capitalist to use it. 

You just have to be willing to create a website, place content on it, add AdSense and bring in the visitors.

Anyone can do it, and anyone can use it to earn money with a website. 

But AdSense is not a getrich-quick scheme. As we’ll see in Chapter 1, you can be online with a website in minutes. You can have ads running on that site a daylater.

 But you won’t be making a lot of money yet. You might make a few cents as your friends and relations take a look at the site and click an ad. But that’s not going to be enough to make a difference to your life. Clicks from friends and family won’t be enough to let you give up the day job.

It will take time to produce enough content to attract visitors It will take time

But when you’re just starting out, that’s not going to happen. You’ll have to keep posting content, keep looking for new traffic sources, and keep testing ad

options if you want to keep your income rising.

It’s work. It’s work that’s enjoyable, and it’s work that pays. But AdSense won’t make you rich quickly and it won’t make you rich effortlessly.

It might not even make you rich at all. For many small AdSense publishers, Google’s opportunity hasn’t bought them a mansion in Cancun and a private jet parked in their back yard. But it has allowed them to supplement their household

income, build a second revenue stream or make a few hundred bucks a month on their own terms while still being available to ferry the kids to soccer matches and choir practice.

Whether you’re hoping to strike it rich with AdSense though or just create a helpful new income stream you will need to invest time into learning how to use

it and put it to work.