How To Avoid Adsense Smart Pricing On Blogs

| Created: January 15th, 2008
Adsense Smart Pricing 86 Comments

In my last post, I mentioned the danger Adsense Smart Pricing poses to blogs. Blogs are particularly vulnerable because most blogs don’t work well with Adsense. In this post, I examine the issue further and look at a couple of potential solutions for WordPress users – but there’s a twist in the tale.

What Is Adsense Smart Pricing?

First, lets look at what Smart Pricing is. In my last post I said:

Not many people have heard about Adsense Smart Pricing and there’s little information about it. It appears that if you have a low CTR (under 1 or 2%), you may be penalised, so you only get about 10% of what clicks are worth.

This was based on Courtney Tuttle’s recent explanation of Adsense Smart Pricing. The theory is that having a low CTR (below 1 or 2%) will result in a penalty, so you only receive about 10% of what clicks are normally worth.

The Danger To Blogs

Simply put, the typical blog is in danger of having a low CTR because they rely heavily on regular visitors and social traffic (such as StumbleUpon). Both of these groups are unlikely to click ads, resulting in a lower CTR. In particular, a burst of traffic from StumbleUpon is likely to have disastrous effects on CTR – a large number of impressions with very few clicks.

Search engine visitors do click ads. There are many factors that go into how high your CTR is, but it’s accepted that the higher the ratio of search engine visitors, the higher the CTR. While most blogs get search engine traffic, the majority of their visitors come from other sources.

This blog’s CTR is well under 1%. That’s not surprising given the target audience and the fact that only 25% of traffic comes from search engines, but it also means this blog is in danger of being smart priced by Adsense.

What Can Blogs Do About Smart Pricing?

The solution seems simple – to me anyway. Why not just show Adsense ads to search engine visitors only? This should result in a much higher CTR. Of course, a few clicks may be lost, along with a lot of impressions – but it would be worth it, if the value of clicks were higher as result.

I went ahead and did it on this blog. You won’t see Adsense here, unless you came via a search engine. I’ll tell you more about how I did it later.

Does It work?

It’s early days yet, but I’m still getting clicks (I don’t seem to have lost any) and my CTR has moved from well below 1% to around 2 or 3%. It’s looking good, so I decided to write a post explaining how to do this.

But Here’s The Twist!

When writing this post, I went digging for some official information about Smart Pricing. There is very little to be found. The best I could come up with is The Facts About Smart Pricing from Google’s official Adsense Blog. This is more than two years old.

Importantly, it contradicts what Court says. Here’s a quote from the post (emphasis mine):

The percentage of clicks that convert for an advertiser is the most important factor in an advertiser’s ROI, so it’s not only possible, but common, to have a low CTR and a high advertiser conversion rate. It’s also possible to have a high CTR and a low conversion rate. Don’t remove the AdSense code from your site just because it has a lower CTR – it may be one of your best converting sites.

Did Court Get It Wrong?

Yes, I think so. I have the greatest respect for Court and he has a lot more experience with Adsense than I do. He’s basing his theory on what he’s personally seen, others verify it and Google’s statement is ancient.

However, it seems more likely that Google would use advertiser conversion rate, rather than CTR, to determine whether Smart Pricing is applied. After all, Smart Pricing is all about Google delivering value to the advertiser.

Does this make a difference?

Only a little. There is probably a high correlation between high CTR and high advertiser conversion rate, because both are a product of targeted traffic.

People who are searching for a solution to a problem are more likely to click ads promising a solution. They are also more likely to buy something from the advertiser than a regular visitor who wasn’t actively searching for something.

So a high CTR probably means a high advertiser conversion rate. Showing Adsense to search engine visitors only should also result in a higher advertiser conversion rate and help prevent you getting smart priced.

However, you should try to determine if you’re smart priced before taking action. Don’t just disable Adsense because you have a low CTR.

Edit: I recommend reading this post which explains Adsense smart pricing in great detail. Grizzly’s blog is a great place for learning about making money online.

Are You Smart Priced?

It’s hard to tell, as click value varies from ad to ad and from niche to niche. If your clicks are only paying 10 cents, then you are probably smart priced, but there’s no real way to know.

The only way is to experiment and see if the click value goes up. Try showing Adsense to search engine traffic only – you’ll lose some clicks, but it should result in higher CTR and higher conversion rate. It may take a week for you to see the benefits and you need to monitor how much you’re making closely.

If your earnings don’t improve, then maybe you weren’t smart priced. If that’s the case, undo the changes!

Is This Blog Smart Priced?

As I mentioned earlier, the CTR on this blog is way below 1%. In fact it’s below 0.2%. So I should be smart priced right? But I don’t think I am.

In the past, I’ve had periods where I was only getting 6 to 10 cents a click, but for the last month or so, I’ve been getting 30 to 90 cents a click. I think that’s probably about right for this niche. If someone out there can confirm this, please let me know!

Even though I think I’m not smart priced, I’m going to stick to my plan to only show Adsense to search traffic. I’m confident that search engine visitors are the ones who click my ads. I’ll use Adsense on other projects, so I want to protect myself. If this blog gets smart priced, so will all my sites.

How To Show Adsense To Search Traffic Only

I’ll mention two possible solutions for WordPress users:

1. The Who Sees Ads Plugin

One solution for WordPress users is the Who Sees Ads plugin. This has the ability to display ads for search engine traffic only. There are many other options, but this is the only one we are interested in. It works with the Adsense Deluxe plugin, which many people use, and can control ads in the sidebar as well as in the post body.

If you use Adsense Deluxe or manually insert Adsense code, then this is the solution for you. I won’t go into how to set Who Sees Ads up to display ads for search engine traffic. Just follow the instructions from the plugin’s home page. You want to set if Visitor comes from a search engine to display and turn the rest off. If anyone wants me to give detailed instructions on how to do this, leave a comment below and I’ll do this in a future post.

2. The Shylock Adsense Plugin

Personally, I prefer the Shylock Adsense plugin because it places the ads for you. Most plugins require you to manually enter a HTML comment where the ad should appear (in each post). This affords greater control on where they appear, but means they can’t be moved without editing each post! With Shylock‘s system you specify where ads should appear (eg top right of the post, middle left, etc) and Shylock adds the Adsense code to all posts.

A key feature of Shylock is that it allows you to only display ads on posts older than a certain number of days. If you set this to say 14 days, ads will not appear on new posts, meaning the majority of regular readers and social traffic won’t see them. This will certainly improve CTR and advertiser conversion rate, but there are a couple of problems:

  1. It only works for ads in the post body. Ads in the sidebar will continue to appear to everyone.
  2. Some regular visitors, social traffic, people following links will visit old post and be shown ads. It’s best if it appears for search traffic only.

As my sidebar ad is my highest earner, I’m not willing to give it up. Therefore, I decided to hack Shylock and the sidebar, so that ads are only shown to search engine traffic. This sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. This post was supposed include instructions on how to do this, but I think I’ll leave that to a separate post, later this week.

The Final Word

Adsense Smart Pricing is something everyone wants to avoid, but the average blog is in serious danger of being smart priced. The solution may be to show ads to search engine traffic only. However, don’t assume that a blog is smart priced simply because it has a low CTR – do some testing to see if this is really the case.

Got an opinion on this? Let me know!

86 responses on “How To Avoid Adsense Smart Pricing On Blogs

  1. Josh Spaulding

    Excellent post, Stephen! You did alot more research than I 🙂

    After reading that quote I understand what you meant with your comment on my related post.

    However, I still stand by my statement that the CTR plays a big factor in smart pricing. It may be a coincidence, but I do believe I was “smart priced,” but then “released” from it after removing several sites with extremely low CTR’s because very shortly after removing those sites my adsense income showed a dramatic increase in earnings.

    Alot of food for thought here, thanks for the info!

  2. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi Josh,

    Like Court, you’re someone who a) I respect and b) has more experience with Adsense than I do, so thanks for your input.

    I still think it’s more likely that the sites you removed had a low advertiser conversion rate as well as a low CTR and it was actually the advertiser conversion rate which was the problem.

    Anyway, in general the two go together, so most of the time a low CTR does mean you’re in danger of being smart priced…

  3. RT Cunningham

    Ha! I restricted AdSense to search engines and visitors digging through old post when I put it back online in December, but then changed it to search engine visitors only about a week ago.

    My CTR is really high right now, but sometimes the clicks aren’t worth much because the ads suck. LOL

  4. YC

    I think CTR is a factor, amongst others like you mentioned such as conversion. No one really knows and there’s no strict rule it seems. The ads might not have competition and cost little. I have one site which is like that – mile high CTR but the ads are your 3-6c on most parts – at first I worried it was smart pricing, but then I looked at the ads and they were always the same few guys. The rare ones when i got higher than 10c were the once in a blue moon advertisers.

  5. Stephen Cronin Post author

    RT, you’re always one step ahead! It’s frustrating to get those small paying clicks, isn’t it?

    YC, sounds like you’ve got the same problem. Must be real frustrating. Excellent point about competition and cost. I guess it’s all in the niche… As for the rules, my one enduring frustration with Google is that they’re aren’t a little more open on things like this. Still I guess it’s their search engine.

  6. Maurice (TheCaymanHost)

    Hi Stephen

    This post taught me a lot – it amazes me how little I know about Adsense sometimes 🙂

    I’ve succumbed to using it again on the directory, so how it will fare I shall have to wait and see. Smart pricing was not something I’d ever paid much attention to before, but I shall now watch with interest as I’ve rekindled my publisher interest.

    Thanks, great post – Stumbled accordingly!

  7. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi Mo, Thanks!

    Things like Smart Pricing are not widely known about, mainly because Google doesn’t give us much information about it. Most Adsense publishers have never heard of it! Makes you wonder what else there is out there we don’t know about…

  8. Do Follow Directory

    This is a very interesting post. Will need to look into this in more depth as I have noticed that most clicks are extremely low even for keywords that I pay a lot for when I use Adwords.

  9. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Do Follow, Thanks. You should definitely look into this further – it sounds like you may have been smart-priced, though it’s hard to know for sure.

  10. arun kamath

    If you are getting traffic but no clicks here is a solutionhere is revolutionary advertising concept which pays you for every visitor to your blog by playing audio clip. Join now because they are going to stop taking new people for some time after Feb 1,2008.

  11. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi Arun,

    I’ve heard about this and although I think it will probably take off, I don’t like the idea – purely because as an end user, it would annoy the hell out of me. It wouldn’t stop me visiting a great site, but borderline sites would have to say goodbye to me…

    I’ve removed the affiliate link – if people want more info they can visit your site.

  12. Tom At The Home Business Archive

    Excellent post, thanks for sharing! I bet I have been smart priced as I get a lot of traffic from social sites as Digg and Stumbleupon.Is it true that with Adsense less ads are better, meaning higher CTR and more money for me?

  13. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi Tom, It’s hard to tell if you have been smart priced or not. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t smart priced with a CTR under 1%. Showing ads only to search engine traffic is likely to help if you are smart priced, but may mean less money if you’re not.

  14. Be Awesome Instead

    Wow…excellent post. I had no idea about smart pricing, but i really explains a lot. For the first two months on my blog I was getting $0.30-$0.80 (sometimes more) per click but here lately ad clicks are between $0.01-$0.12… I was searching for ways to increase ad clicks (relevance would be great) and came across this. I will definitely be trying some of this out.
    Again Thank You!

  15. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi Be Awesome,

    It does explain a lot doesn’t it – I was exactly the same when I found out about Smart Pricing. Anyway, I hope this helps – those 1 to 10 cent clicks are really frustrating! Good luck!

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author


      It’s hard to say without knowing more detail. It may be that you’re smart priced. If you have more than site running Adsense, try to work out which one may be causing you to be smart priced and remove Adsense from it. But really it’s all down to trial and error…

  16. Geld Lenen

    I don’t believe in Smart Pricing either, but I do believe that SE visitors are more likely to click ads. That’s why the Who sees ads plugin is really great. You just made my day! Thanks

  17. brit

    Thanks for the tips.

    If i am not being smartpriced with 24 clicks and $1.30 earnings then i don’t know what i am .Oh wait… I am actually really pissed off that is. I have quality content, lot of traffic and getting an average of 20 clicks daily and 4 thousand impressions and the highest i can earn is $1.30.

    i don’t feel it’s fair.

  18. wisdom

    I really enjoyed that post. It was well written and you put research into it to test your method. Some clicks I earn about 10 cents…… others I can earn well over $1.50. I don’t get it…

  19. Tim from Red Deer

    Good info, I read about this before on both Court’s and RT’s sites.
    I don’t think you lose a thing by only letting search traffic see your ads. Blog readers are the least likely to buy from an ad out of anyone. We jump from blog to blog looking for some good info or entertainment, and spending money on anything is the last thing we are looking to do. Ads are all about getting us to spend money, so blog readers and information hounds automatically ignore the ads. I never even see the pesky things, I’m so good at ignoring their existence.
    However, if I’m looking for a tool, service or item that I’m willing to pay for, I do read the ads because they can be very relevant. At this point I am searching, primarily with google, and who knows where I might end up. It might be on a blog, but a searcher isn’t interested in reading. They want their need met, right away. So they click out.
    That’s why for a personal blog, as a reader I would just as soon never see google ads anyways. They kinda get in the way for some readers, and detract from the personality of the blog. And I’m sure they hardly do any good for the blog owner, putting advertising in front of non buyers.

  20. Dennis@chinese recepten

    The money i make with adsense on one of my sites changes from month to month, altough the traffic is consistent and mainly from searchengines. My CTRs are fine I just think it’s strange that one month of clicks can give me 80% of the money of that previous month with no real difference.
    Oh well part of the biz I guess.

  21. Mark@mobile phone contracts

    Interesting post, I especially like the idea of only displaying adsense ads to search engine visitors. Not only does that improve you CTR but you can also maximise the revenue from your site or blog. I would extend this to display different types of ads depending on the visitor source as you can get a good idea as to what that user would want.

  22. Brook

    My question is, can someone fix it? Can someone get out of the adsense priced hole?I mean, if you have an adsense account and got priced, can you fix it by getting a higher ratio?

  23. DR@making money blogging

    This is a great article! Smart Pricing has always been something of a mystery to me. One day I can get .80 a click, the next .8. I do wonder though, if as a blog ages, Google gets better at knowing what ads convert on a site and which ads don’t. Many bloggers have told me that the per click rev goes up as their site ages.

  24. tiffany

    I think that your accounts performance is calculated by the overal ratio. I am nost sure if it is calculated by how many clicks you get in one day.

  25. Quality Assurance in India

    I would just as soon never see google ads anyways. They kinda get in the way for some readers, and detract from the personality of the blog. And I’m sure they hardly do any good for the blog owner, putting advertising in front of non buyers.

    LINK REMOVED: because of failure to use KeywordLuv syntax (name@keywords)

  26. John@Bowling Balls For Sale

    OpenX now supports using adsense. It will enable you to determine who sees ads ense and use an alternate ad for nonSearch traffic or returning readers. But, i agree with you about Court’s statement. It seems a bit counter intuitive.

  27. Susan@Short Sale

    This is a valuable post. I’ve used the competitive ad filter to remove ads not related to my sites and removed low performing ads and saw within a 24 hour period, click dollar amounts go up.

  28. James@AdSense Land

    Very informative post indeed. It would be so useful if Google let AdSense publishers see their conversion rate, then there would be no guessing about smart-pricing.

    For now, if you use many different sources of traffic, you should try a more advanced AdSense tracker (Analytics + AdSense trick is good free option) to see which traffic sources have the most clicks and display ads only to them.

  29. TR@Help An Alcoholic

    Yes, I definitely should get those plug-ins…I agree for many of my sites it comes from the search traffic and not regular readers…plus maybe that could be used as a benefit for convincing people to subscribe! Thanks again! You may have just helped me make more $$$ (and I’m assuming that’s why I don’t see any ads on here!)

  30. Home Money Maker

    Interesting subject, I found talk about that on pat doyle blog, and posted answer,and then followed reference from his site ,so I will post copy/pasted from pats blog here since I see that many people found that this is interesting subject, so if somone have any similar problems with smart pricing, post here and I will try to help, because have some experience because I researche a lot on this…

    This is very interesting question. I have some bad experience, adSense smart pricing definitely isn’t myth, and believe me, I advice you to do what Pat says here. I have steady growing incomes for past few years, increasing for few percents every month,blah,blah,blah (etc) Few months ago, earnings dropped, I mean this is just this week, then thought this month, but it takes 2 months, I looking for on forums, blogs discussed with people and some of them pointing me to smart pricing, I check every of my xx sites and blog and everything seems ok, so I start to be depresed 🙂 Well not literaly but You understand what I am mean 🙂
    Then I got one idea: for example what would be happen if someone put on some very very crappy site but with very large traffic (also crapy, untargeted but MASSIVE traffic) adsense with my adsense ID (pub-etcxxx) ?
    Well, this come to my mind because I look everywhere and solution was just in front of my eyes, number of impressions in my google account, for example was :10 000, and when I manual count for each channel it was for example 7 000, so what are those 3 000 impressions daily, and why my average click drop from 5-20 times? After tha I ‘came out’ from ‘depression’ and used adsense allow filter, and after few days stuffs come back in normal.
    Now conclusion who and why would do something like that? Well just use imagination. Is that way to bury some competition which targets for example similar keywords in SEO? Pretty sure … You will tell “OK, but competition can beat your position in google!” I agree with you, but can make you to “fail in depression” stop work on your site(s) or blog(s) which will result natural for your competition to beat you in seo on given keyword and…what happends then we all know.
    So, google don’t give us “usefulness” stuffs, and this tool/filter is there because it need to be there and have own purpose.
    Conclusion number 2: Don’t think to much, just belive in Pat advice and do that-use adsense allow sites filter.

    1. Home Money Maker

      P.S. forgot to say that I am preparing post on one of my blogs about this,and I think I will finish in next few days,with more details and analize and facts, so if you are interested I will post here

  31. SteveLott@Flir Cameras

    Smart pricing is really getting on my nerves. The worst part of it is that they wont tell you which one of your sites is considered low-quality by them – so if you have 10 sites under your adsense account and you get smart priced you have no idea which site is causing it. I think thats pretty dumb on Google’s part – dont you want people to know which site is sucking so they can make it better?

    Maybe im venting but I find it very frustrating when i get $0.07 a click when it should be $0.50 or more – and i have no direction on how to fix it.

  32. methode@devoracles

    Howdy Stephen,

    It’s quite frustrating what you wrote. I’m in experimenting the situation you described, it’s online for about a day or two and I think I see some difference already.

    Shall i elaborate what differences? I’ll say anyway, so don’t answer.
    The story begins with me being an Adwords user. Believe me or not, we, advertisers sometimes pay up to $50, yeah fifty US dollars for a keyword. So the other day I got angry and the result was the experiment. Others shoot people from the street, I make experiences, we’re all different you know. So, I show ads for visitors coming from search engines and don’t show for the users who came from referring sites.
    3 days ago there was a massive traffic on my blog, dunno what I did, but they flooded the site. I was happy, lot of visitors means more earnings. So I logged in to adsense, and saw the amazing earning: $0.78… from 67 clicks… pathetic. Even more pathetic that the most clicks were from users reading one specific article, which is full of keywords we, advertisers pay a lot (the one about the idiot which made fireproof PC case insulated with asbestos).
    While we advertisers pay a lot for those keywords, the adsense publishers get a very tiny bit of what the advertiser payed for that click… Not good… Well, it’s marketing… but still not good.

    So, the difference. Now the users who don’t come from search engines don’t see ads, thus they can’t click on them. And today I received from a search engine visitor a click which earned a stunning sum… till now the $.01 was the common, and today there are clicks which pays much more better… Isn’t that weird?

    Whatever, thanks for the article. Was cool to read it, keep up the good job

  33. jason@homes for sale

    That is an interesting experiment methode. I have realized from reading a few articles about smart pricing that I need to do something. I just didn’t know what. I guess I’ll try being selective in serving the ads and see if that helps. Thanks.

  34. RT Cunningham@Increase AdSense CTR

    I wrote an article today which included code to restrict adsense being displayed. It’s a solution in search of a plugin (for the conditions).

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi RT,

      I saw that. It’s pretty full on. I recommend everyone get over there and have a read of it. I’ll leave a longer comment there..

  35. webkinzie@adsense

    I had earlier come across a post which details the concept of SmartPricing. It seems that Google looks into aspects like how old is the site, how many post/pages are present, what is the niche, etc and then decides on SmartPricing. I also felt placing a lot of Ad units also is a major contributor to this.

  36. Richard@CD Duplication Chicago

    I had never even heard of Smart Pricing before I read your blog. It’s amazing not being informed about small things like these can hurt your blog. Hopefully I can make the necessary changes that you have suggested.

  37. Wilson


    I have a website with both Adsense for Search and Content. Since Oct 08 my site was being smart priced. The CPC getting lower and lower which lead to serious drop in revenue. Initially, I thought CTR would help, so I went to engage SEO experts and they managed to increase the traffic by more the 35% within 1.5 months. And now, more than 90% of the totla visits to the site are from Google and Yahoo, and my Adsense CTR has grown to more than 11%. However, my CPC still keep dropping. Could anyone advice me what should i do?

    Thank you

  38. jeff@High yield savings account

    You would think google would make code so anyone can use it. This way it could be used on any site not just wordpress. They like search engine traffic and not much else so they should make ad code that does this. maybe show your own ads instead of adsense when they are not from search engine.

  39. Jack@web hosting

    Apart form this is it also true that google pays more to US publishers and less to Indian publishers even if both have sites with traffic from US?

  40. Brian@sandwich panels

    I had understood that Smart Pricing was also an issue across your AdSense account. If several of your domains were experiencing low CTR, then it threw the whole account under the radar. My AdSense CTR is running between 10-20% for all websites. This CTR is based only on search traffic.

    If getting only 1% or less CTR, I would recommend dropping AdSense totally and converting to affiliate sales. This would net you more $$.

  41. WordPress

    For some reason, my understanding of Grizz’s explanation on smart pricing is different from what you’ve explained in this post. I used to put AdSense on my personal blog (very general topic) which has a very high CTR, i.e. 15% but only earns 10% of the eCPM, without realizing it was smart priced. I removed the ads from my personal blog, and instead added it into a niche site (very focused). I noticed that even with a 2-3% conversion, my niche site earns 50% to 80% of the eCPM.

    I think this corresponds to what Grizz explained using his widget-blue widget theory. But thanks anyway for the post.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Lorna,

      Sorry, it took two weeks to respond. Shows just how unlike Grizzly I actually am! I don’t know how he responds to all his comments…

      I agree that Grizzly’s Optimization Tips for Adsense (the Blue Widget post) is probably the best explanation of smart pricing out there (unless one of his other posts beats it). However, you have to remember this post is over a year old and predates Grizzly’s Blue Widget post (not that he hadn’t written about smart pricing before that).

      Actually, I think my explanation is pretty consistent with Grizzly’s. I’m basically saying that it’s the advertiser conversion rate (ie whether someone actually buys something AFTER they click the ad) rather than CTR, which affects whether smart pricing is applied.

      In the case of your personal blog you had a high CTR (doesn’t matter), but probably a low advertiser conversion rate (ie widgets).

      In the case of your niche site, the CTR was low (doesn’t matter), but you would have had a higher advertiser conversion rate (ie blue widgets).

      It’s all about the advertiser conversion rate (which depends on targeted traffic).

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and see you around!

  42. tony@Cheap web hosting package.

    Nice post. I do not think most people realize they are smart priced and why. I see alot of people promoting social bookmark sites. They see alot of traffic going to site but not alot of money from them.

  43. Joseph@Excel Help

    This is an interesting post. I will need to look into this in more detail, I have noticed that most clicks are very low even for keywords where I pay a lot..Smart pricing is really getting on my nerves

  44. avery@Earn Money Online Blog

    I think CTR shouldn’t make an effect on smart pricing – Google’s paying customers (advertisers) are the ones they are concerned in making happy. If you are sending traffic that is not converting well, you will be smart priced….. (so, things like deceptive ad placement for instance could yield a high ctr, but lousy conversion rates.) you are absolutely right that search traffic is the best for CTR for adsense. Social traffic is lousy for that.

    It’s also something worth experimenting with to see just what kind of A/B results you get with regard to CPM. (BTW, if you get a higher CTR with only showing ads to search visitors you SHOULD also see an increased CPM as the ad views/clicks aren’t as diluted.)

  45. FriendTek@Seo, Internet Marketing

    Great Article! Like others here I am not sure if I subsribe to this theory of smart pricing. As someone who owns quite a few domains, may parked and many developed I can tell you just that certain topics pay more than others. I’ve had some calling card domains that were parked that were making an average of 50 cents a click while other domains, like adult ones, make an averege of two cents a click.

    I also believe in the adage that your loyal visitors will give you some add ‘clicky’ luv once in awhile.

    A few years ago I ran a vbulletin forum and chose just to show adds to guests and registered users didn’t see them, my clicks plummeted like crazy. I

    This is just my experience but at the end of the day it’s the kind of content that you have determines the value of your adds.

  46. Kiwibloke

    One of the tricky things about adsense is “getting into the heads” of the google bot. My CTR is low but the per click price varies from day to day, sometimes up and sometimes low.
    I think there are some other variables we aren’t privy to. Need to keep looking.
    Thanks for the post
    Greg R

  47. suda@hotel madrid

    I have gone through few articles about smart pricing that I need to do something.I’ll try being selective in serving the ads and see if that helps. Thanks.

  48. Tom @ Home Business Marketing Tips

    I get most of my traffic from Google, but some of it comes from stumble upon and twitter as well.I would like to implement these adsense rules but it´s too easy to mess up your blog by doing it.I would need step-by-step instructions “go here-open that file-insert code here” to be able to get it done properly.

  49. Rajj

    Can the samething be done for blogspot blogs to prevent smart pricing. My blog gets tons of traffic from stumbleupon and now i realised why so low CTR, i m new to adsense. … OH MY GOD. I AM IN THE VERGE OF GETTING BANNED FROM ADSENSE ?

  50. jaydee@wedding photographer brighton

    Mr Cronin I gotta say I’m so damn impressed with your commitment to understanding a problem clearly and finding and fine tuning a solution to it. Just spent about half an hour on the blog tracking backwards thru posts about these “show adsense to search visitors only” hacks/plugins and its a really impressive solution.

    I think the “conversion rate not CTR” idea has sunk in more and more with Adwords advertisers (ie those on the other side), and its interesting to see how Google are applying that on Adsense too.

    Makes a lot of sense that search visitors would be more likely to click on an ad. But presumably the danger is that if smart pricing ISNT about CTR, you could end up losing out on a large chunk of your adsense income.

    Hmmm unless of course you serve more targeted ads to the rest of your visitors, ie handpicked banners from advertisers aiming at your niche readership…

  51. Tim@Retirement Calculators

    Thanks for your very detailed explanation of Smart Pricing. Since my CTR is going lower since some time I may have to keep an eye on it. Otherwise I try reducing ads…

  52. Jared @ StockAssault 2.0

    “quote”Limit your AdSense to search visitors and your CPC should rise.”end quote”

    So true, I did this and my CPC has raised. Thanks for the Info on Smart Pricing

  53. Zemalf

    Thanks for tip, I’ve been looking for ways to only show ads to non-regulars and this pointed me to the right direction. And I wasn’t even aware of smart pricing, so you helped me twice = Excellent!

  54. Rich Guy

    If you want to remove “smart pricing” you need to remove some ad blocks on that low ctr websites or blogs and wait at least 2 weeks.

  55. Pete

    Well as i can see your adsense ads i must have found the article through search. The bulk of the visitors to my websites come via search so i typically get a far higher CTR than is being mentioned by many on the web although not realised until your article why. What i have found though is what appears to be smart pricing on individual pages even with a high ctr. 2 similar pages identical adsense ads and similar ctr’s but in dollar terms one page about 6 cents a click and the other nearer a dollar. Don’t know if anyone can shed some light on this?

  56. Google Arbitrage

    On my sites it seems opposite, higher I get CTR, lower the price gets. Maybe adverticers pull of some ads and thats why lower bid ads gets on page.

  57. paul

    hi stephen,

    I read this article yesterday and implemented the who sees ads plugins, indeed my ctr went to 14% and its all from search engine so i got better earnings. thank you fro sharing this plugins

    i have a non-wordpress non-blog pages, how can i use the same plugins?

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Paul,

      This post was a couple of years ago, so it’s good to get some validation that this approach is still working. But it’s always worth testing things such as this for yourself and if they work, use them and if they don’t forget it.

      I have written a post on how to do this on Blogger, but it may be against Google’s TOS, so be careful.

      1. paul

        Hi Stephen,

        Thank your for the post on blogger, i will try to implement this one, may i know if you have tried filtering visitors on html pages or php pages .. like the normal pages not blogs ?

        Is it possible that opening your adsense account in the same computer and viewing your pages with your adsense on it gets you smart priced since it records your page impressions? it seems to me that my ecpm get lower when i’m logged at the same time viewing my pages. what can you say about that Stephen?

        1. Stephen Cronin Post author

          Hi Paul,
          Very interesting point. I thought the same a while back on a site where I showed adsense to everyone (because it was 90% search traffic in the first place) – what I did there was wrap the Adsense code with:

          if (!current_user_can(“update_plugins”)) {


          which basically says show Adsense if the current user isn’t an Admin, show them Adsense . As as result I didn’t see it when I was logged in.

          Of course that’s not going to help with a non blog site – sorry…

          1. paul

            Thank you very Stephen,

            apart from smart pricing, I tested the niche adsense blogging of grizzly, and applied the potential computation of keyword academy of mark, it was really great since the keyword was really easy to rank but the problem is that i think my blog was sandboxed by google. from rank 55th it went to 125th .. but the home page is gone from the index.

            its really a new blog then after 5 days i started the link building, do you think link building after 5 days triggered the sandboxing?

            sorry if i ask to much, im really trying my best to earn even $30 per day but its seems hard.. it seems that i have choosen before a wrong niche, and did not knew about smart pricing.

            i hope you understand..


          2. Stephen Cronin Post author

            Hi Paul,

            Sorry about the tardy response – I don’t quite have Grizzly’s knack of answering comments straight away – he’s awesome!

            Anyway, I don’t think link building too soon will get you sandboxed – it’s more likely to be something else such as:

            whether your blog topic is one that’s on Google’s list of topics that are often spam
            whether you show ads right away (wait until you have some traffic)
            whether your blog has been flagged as low quality through a competitor reporting you or a visual inspection by a Google employee
            whether you only have low quality links that follow certain patterns known by Google

            It could be anything! It may even just be that you ranked a little higher than normal at first thanks to the Freshness component of Google’s algorithm, but then dropped back to your normal place.

            Anyway, all you can do is keep your head down creating content and building links. Don’t give up. Over time, you’ll recover.

  58. Cografya Dersi

    apart from smart pricing, I tested the niche adsense blogging of grizzly, and applied the potential computation of keyword academy of mark, it was really great since the keyword was really easy to rank but the problem is that i think my blog was sandboxed by google. from rank 55th it went to 125th .. but the home page is gone from the index.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi CD,

      Were you using Blogger? Google seems to have slapped Blogger blogs using Adsense. See Grizzly’s article on the penalty against Blogger blogs.

  59. Craig

    Best way to avoid being smart priced: have a commercially oriented blog and not a piece of shit hobby site. The reason people don’t click your ads much is because you are too caught up in blog culture to realise how ridiculous this site looks to people who aren’t really into blogging.

    If you want to make money, do it properly. If you want a pathetic hobby blog that get browsed by kids and amateur web masters, don’t even think about AdSense.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Craig,

      I know you’re trolling, but you actually make a great point. I couldn’t agree more. Most of my AdSense income comes from other sites with an audience who are searching for something they really need, not bloggers like this one. But that’s no reason not to make a little money from this site. I’ll also say that this post is 2.5 years old and I think smart pricing is a far different beast these days, but I don’t particularly think about it much anymore..

      Now, why don’t you get back to making money online, which is what I assume you do… 🙂

  60. Samuel

    Thanks brother for this good tutorial, i liked it where you mentioned that you went ahead and did it on this blog. You won’t see Adsense here, unless you came via a search engine. I come here after making some search on google in regard to this topic but still i have not seen the ads, any way my point is . i have used stumble urpon and 80% of my traffic comes from there, i was smart priced with a epc of -10%
    Would you advise me to stop using such traffic sources.

  61. Lavan

    Even 8 years after this article was written, a lot of the information still holds true. It goes to show the depth of research and care that went into writing this piece. Hats off to you, sir.

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