How To Prevent Smart Pricing – Great Solution

| Created: March 11th, 2009
Adsense Smart Pricing 65 Comments

Some of my most popular posts are those in my make money online series that discuss how to avoid Adsense smart pricing by displaying Adsense only to search engine visitors. Now I’ve found the most complete solution to the problem of smart pricing, over on the Blog associated with RT’s backlinks service (more below).

What Is Smart Pricing?

I’ve explained this many times before, but here’s the short answer again:

Smart Pricing is a penalty that Google applies to Adsense accounts (yes the entire account) that don’t convert well for the advertiser. This can result in a penalty of up to 90% of what you earn for a click. Pretty significant hey!

To avoid smart pricing, you need to provide the advertisers with targeted traffic. This traffic will convert well for the advertiser and ensure that you don’t attract the smart pricing penalty. Search engine visitors provide targeted traffic (no problem). Regular readers and social networks visitors provide untargeted traffic (problem). Many bloggers are smart priced without even knowing it.

If you need any further information, see Grizzly’s authorative explanation of smart pricing. This explains the intricacies of smart pricing far better than I can. If you’re trying to make money online, then you need to understand this.

How To Prevent Smart Pricing – My Solutions

As I said, I’ve written quite a few posts about how to prevent smart pricing. These all centre around displaying Adsense to only search visitors (targeted), not to your regular visitors or social media visitors (both untargeted).

I started with a hack to the Shylock Adsense Plugin (for WordPress) so that only search engine visitors would see ads (regular visitor wouldn’t see them). This could also be used for showing Adsense directly, without using Shylock.

This solution only displayed Adsense ad units on the first page that a visitor landed on. If they navigated to another page on your site, Adsense wouldn’t appear, as they no longer came immediately from a search engine. Therefore, I followed up with an improved solution that shows ads to search traffic on subsequent pages as well (by setting a cookie).

Later, I converted this solution to work on the Blogger platform, so now you can filter out non-search visitors on Blogger as well.

The Most Complete Solution To Smart Pricing

RT’s post on filtering out non search engine visitors in WordPress is amazing. Not only does his solution filter out non-search traffic, it also filters out certain search terms that are unlikely to convert well and posts from categories and tags that are not likely to convert because they aren’t targeted for Adsense,

This is the most complete solution I’ve seen. If you follow RT’s advice, then you are very unlikely to get smart priced by Google.

The only caveats are:

  • It only works for the first page, not subsequent pages. I know RT will say that the vast majority of clicks come from the first page and there’s no point showing ads on subsequent pages.
  • It won’t work with PHP caching solutions, such as WP Super Cache (neither does mine). RT is working on a solution to this, although as he points out, the whole point is to get search traffic rather than loads of social traffic, so this may not be needed anyway.

Following this technique should ensure that you are earning the maximum amount possible via Adsense.

What Is ConnectContent?

Before wrapping up, I’ll take the chance to explain what ConnectContent is. Chances are, if you’re interested in avoiding smart pricing, then you’ll be interested in ConnectContent as it can help you earn more money online.

RT founded ConnectContent to help members get relevant links, with relevant anchor text. Getting such links is the most important thing to do if you want to improve your rankings in the search engines. If you want to dominate your niche, relevant links are essential.

More information from the ConnectContent site:

ConnectContent is a managed network, designed to promote relevancy between websites. Search engine quality guidelines are followed and reciprocal linking is discouraged while one-way linking is encouraged.

The service is not free, but is very reasonably priced: USD$12.00 per month (or USD$120.00 for a year). There is no restriction on how many links you can get, except for any self imposed limits on how many links you can give. The more you give, the more you receive.

There’s an affiliate program that pays 50 percent of subscription fees as residual referral commissions. That means if two people sign up through your affiliate link, you break even. That’s leaving aside the extra money you can earn through improved rankings! Easy AdSense money.

Final Thoughts

If you really want to make money with Adsense, then make sure you’re not smart priced. Many people are only earning a fraction of what they could be. There is no guaranteed way of avoiding smart pricing, but RT’s solution is as close to a guarantee as you’ll find.

65 responses on “How To Prevent Smart Pricing – Great Solution

  1. David@SEM Labs

    Do you have any knowledge about smart pricing for AdSense for Google Custom Search? I have a site that runs that with a terrible conversion, but the CPC is still pretty good.

    1. Stephen Cronin

      Hi David,

      Sorry no, I don’t use custom search (yet). The smart pricing principles should be the same, but I’m not sure how to avoid it as I’m not familiar with how it works.

  2. olly@ glass verandas

    Perhaps I am wrong but I find smart pricing can be applied to a whole account rather than just one site.

    For example I have a site that has good CTR and the click values are good. If I then add another site with a a really low CTR I get more clicks than before but less money. Removing the other site from my account I get more money for less clicks?

    1. Stephen Cronin

      Hi Olly,

      Yes, that’s what I said above:

      Smart Pricing is a penalty that Google applies to Adsense accounts (yes the entire account)

      Although it’s based on advertiser conversion rather than CTR (although there’s a correlation between the two).

  3. Mike@Atlanta georgia real estate

    I don’t know about contentconnect Stephen. It seems like it is in the middle of White hat and black hat SEO. I wouldn’t want to get penalized in google for participating. Be careful with it as Google could classify it as a “link scheme”.

  4. Tina@Christian books online

    This post is information needed! I am going to check to see if this is happening to me…Thank you so much for this

  5. Richard@Open An Online Store

    Wow! I have recently been trying to find a definitive solution ot Smart Pricing having been hit pretty heavily recently despite having good quality sites. This article is fantastically helpful in that department. Can’t thank you enough.

  6. Khaled@van leasing

    I’m a bit cautious as to how Google will view this scheme as though it sounds a good idea it is for link building after all.

  7. bleuken@SEO Consultant

    will this would not violate the Adsense rules? is there’s no possibility that one might get ban by doing this? By the way I tried your advice on embedding Adsense in Blogspot, it is really amazing and increase my earnings. Thanks!

  8. Tom@Best Portable GPS

    This is a great tutorial. I am thinking of adding adsense and was completely unaware of Smart Pricing. If I move forward, I will have to monitor that closely. Thanks again, Tom

  9. Larry@Racing Games

    Let’s say I want to filter out non search engine visitors then I will get less impression (depends on the ratio of SE visitors) on the ads. I wonder if this will bring better total revenue. I mean, despite of low cpc, doesn’t the overall huge amount of clicks result in huge revenue?

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Larry,

      Depends if you want 100 clicks at $.10 each or 20 clicks at $1.00 each. 🙂

      In seriousness, everyone’s situation is different and you have to do some testing for your own situation. The feedback I get is that for most people it increases the revenue, but this is by no means guaranteed for every one. Testing, testing, testing.

      1. Larry@Racing Games

        Thanks for the reply Stephen. I guess you’re right. Testing is the key.

        I have another question in mind though. I was just wondering what about visitors that are not from social media nor search engine? Visitors from relevant discussion on some forums, blog post on other blogs, natural in-content links from other sites, etc. They might be a potential visitors too.

        One alternative way that I can think of is instead of list allowed referrers (search engines), why not list blocked referrers (all popular social media sites) and disable the adsense code if they come from this list.

  10. Stephen Cronin Post author

    To everyone stating that I should be cautious as to how Google will view ConnectContent – thanks for pointing this out.

    RT maintains that he has made sure that it follows all of Google’s TOS and I have a lot of trust in RT. That said, you can never be sure how Google will react. So when considering ConnectContent, make sure you consider this – but I’d suggest it may be worth asking RT more about it on on the ConnectContent site.

  11. Marcin@Technology Blog

    Smart Pricing is always killing my sites revenue and it takes a lot of time to get over it so I hope that implementing some tricks may help with it – thank you.

  12. John@Community Home Supply

    i think smart pricing isn’t that bad, you just have to restructure to make sure you are getting all the traffic you deserve. just be patient and the money will come.

  13. Dan @Tampa Florida

    Thanks for the info , is there a way to tell if you got penalized? I guess you can figure out by the amount per click you are averaging.

  14. Hao@mealworms

    It seems that you are not updating your blog anymore? I find all your tips very useful and I’m hoping you could add more. Specially this smart pricing in Google Ad

  15. ReiseFan

    Let’s say I want to filter out non search engine visitors then I will get less impression (depends on the ratio of SE visitors) on the ads. I wonder if this will bring better total revenue. I mean, despite of low cpc, doesn’t the overall huge amount of clicks result in huge revenue?

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

  16. Barbara Ling@virtual coach

    My gosh, I remember when Smart Pricing was first introduced. It’s hell being hit with it. Love your solutions!

  17. steve@Debt Settlement Program

    I used to be a big fan of adsense years ago but lately I think you are better off affiliate marketing to make money online or of course have your own product or service.

  18. Tom@Odzyskiwanie Danych

    I feel that the easiest way to avoid smart pricing is to have separate goodle adsense accounts for every site. I know it’s actualy not allowed but who cares – at least in case something goes bad your whole account won’t get penalised.

  19. Pep@Scarpe Da Ginnastica

    I like the idea of showing ads only to search traffic, because i learned by experience that it’s where the clicks are. I too think that is important to show ads to search traffic on other pages beyond the home page. So your improvement is really useful.

  20. Luke@Leather Corner Sofa

    Hmm, thanks for the post Stephen.

    I’m not much of a blogger – and I can see how this method might work for bloggers – after all, social network traffic isn’t really “buyer” traffic is it? So it’s fair for Google to charge less for it.

    But I’m wondering what might work for me… I just have static SEO sites. Some are very low quality from my site generation days. The newer ones (75% of revenue) are “good quality” pure content sites.

    Now I really wonder if removing the low quality sites will increase my earnings per click across my account?

    I sort of doubt it.

  21. tom@e-commerce development

    The best solution is obviously having separate accounts for every website. Too bad google doesn’t allow that…

  22. Da brush@ photoshop brushes

    I’ve never been hit big by smart pricing, I think SP hit you that’s because your ads are too much blended inside content.

  23. Alister@TradeCounter

    Did would cause a problem with Google, you are showing ads to a selective group of people and playing around with your CTR. Your advertiser (the person paying you) does not know this and can apply to ban your account.

    Be careful with this one.


    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      You are showing ads to a selective group of people – those who are more likely to buy from the advertiser. Everyone wins…

  24. Simon@Comic Collectibles

    Thanks Stephen, there is a heap of good information here. RT has some great ideas which help anyone out with adsense, SEO and Internet marketing. Smart Pricing a huge problem to though starting out, who think in terms of just getting more hits, and don’t focus of quality and search visitors. A beginer would learn a lot from reading through and using some of the resources here. Cheers.

  25. Eric@wamucards

    This is the information I needed. This is very useful for me. I think the best solution is to have many account and seperate them.

  26. marketing

    I asked the Google adsense team about this system and although the cpc is slightly higher they don’t suggest it since you will just end up with less clickthroughs and make less money at the end of the day.

  27. Paul@Quick Property Sales

    Thanks for explaining ConnectContent…I’ve had it bookmarked for a while now but not really understood what it was about. Seems to be similar to Text Link Ads. Sure is cheap tho, will give it another look.

  28. Andrej @ sports footwear

    I’ve heard about smart pricing before but i didn’t understand what exactly is it about. Seems like a great way for Google and advertisers to gain and us to loose. Well. Not anymore i guess :).

  29. Red@Watch Lost Online

    My Adsense incomes are going lower and lower and I just wonder, is it the smart pricing of just crisis with lower PPC?

  30. Jennifer Steuern@ guenstige software

    I think the advice you’ve given is really good. It’s best to give the advertisers what they want.. good traffic – this is the main aim after all.

  31. Bob Sloan

    I have Always been wondering about this issue but never thought of getting smart priced. After reading this article it seems so clear..

  32. software steve

    Sounds like this may have affected me in the past, I had a site with lots of content and ads sprinked throughout, but the value of the clicks meant it wasnt worth maintaining, so I just dropped it in the end!

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

    1. tom@Tkaniny Obiciowe

      Yeah, all this smart pricing is stupid. Now I have only 3 sites each one on separate googleads account. They can’t hurt me as much as they used to.

  33. Terry@ Scrub Tops

    This is pretty new to me. I mean the whole smart pricing thing. I’m maintaining a blog as well as my medical uniform site with Adsense on it for the extra few bucks. But I’ve never encountered this before while setting up the ads I placed on my blogs. I guess I have to read that whole explanation about smart pricing. Thanks! Heading there right now.

  34. Shawn@US Cities Database

    I’ve had a number of sites hit with smart pricing in the past and most never really recovered. I chalked it up to the adwords publishers lowering their prices over time and/or getting smarter about the way they were bidding.

    I will investigate this method of showing Adsense only to search engine visitors and see if the pricing changes. Would be interesting to find out.

  35. nick@Advanced SEO

    i am so sick of google’s penalties. i think my account has been hit with smart pricing. i used to get some clicks that were worth like $1 or $2. now im never over 50 cents. i know am not converting high, but that because i dont want my sites covered with huge ad units. i usually use small units. i dont get it, if the link was clicked on my site, why cant they just pay me what i deserve?

  36. Tom@Song Words

    Smart Pricing is hell 🙁 since they introduced the new AdWords Algo (it’s some months [years?] ago) where they consider legal rights, how many sub pages you have and organic rankings it’s really hard to get outstanding good click prices. Google seems to be happy with pressing the last cents out of our pockets :-(.

  37. Kai Lo@Search Engine Visitors

    I didn’t know something like this existed! Now I am going to focus on just SEO since nobody from social networking sites or bloggers click on ads. Search engine visitors are more important for PPC.

  38. Ben@Best GPS

    I had no idea about smart pricing until today. Thanks for posting such a nice post which is interesting as well as informative.

  39. Mike@PPC Kahuna Review

    Thanks for the post. I want to say that ConnectContent is definitely a great service, but you will definitely need to have a lot of sites under your control that you can use for giving out links. Otherwise you will start getting penalized for not linking out enough.

  40. Daniel Affordable Housing

    I’m looking for ways to make money online without spending any money therefore I do not have any money to spend.So if you have any good ideas feel free to give me your answers.

  41. Andy@Penny Stocks

    I came to this post from ur other post on “Avoid Smart Pricing” and I must say this is a great article! I never thought of the potential ad-blindness caused by non-search visitors and subsequent income loss that this can cost. I definitely have to do some testing with the concepts and tools you’re recommending.

    Most sites I’m monetizing on gets about a 10-20% CTR just from the sidebars clicks. Would I still need to worry about this I wonder? And also, assuming I already have decent CTR, isn’t smart pricing more of a “clicker won’t buy the merchant’s stuff” issue, rather than a CTR issue? and if so, how would not showing ads to repeat visitors help the conversion on the merchant’s end? hopefully smart pricing only happens when the conversions are BELOW industry average? how does google decide that anyway?

  42. Robert@Internet Marketing Ebooks

    This is the first time when I heard about smart pricing. I think Google use this when a website is ranking too low in SERP, or the site is new. But when this site start to get higher positions and get targeted visitors, then Google reconsider their pricing. For ex, I have a site about diets. First month I have earned an average of 12 cents/click, the second a little more 16 cents, and now after 4 month I earn over 30 cents. But now my site is ranking well in google and I have PR2 on homepage.

  43. Lee@Property Consultants

    I have never heard of Smart Pricing until I read this which is quite shocking as I am hoping to make most of my money from Google Adsense. I’m surprised this isn’t more widely talked about on the internet given the amount of people trying to make a living from Google Adsense.

  44. Tom@Green Tea Benefits

    I’d never heard of adsense smart pricing until now, but it makes sense as my revenue p’click has reduced quite a bit recently – i’ll have a look at contentconnect, even if it costs money in the short term in should pay for itsself. Thanks for bringing this to my attention

  45. Nanocid

    Google’s smart pricing model has always provided better placement for better performing ads, and reduced the cost of a click to the least amount possible to stay above your competitor’s ad. And now, with no change in how you bid, Google may reduce the cost for a click if that better reflects the value it brings to advertisers like you.

  46. iCan't Internet

    Smart pricing, the nightmare of every Adsense publisher? I guess so… Create 10 websites, of which 9 run great, and one is slacking behind, and you’re busted…

  47. Udegbunam Chukwudi

    I use Hyper Cache on my blog. If your method and RT’s don’t work with cache plug-ins, what other alternatives do we have? I think I’m going to deactivate Hyper Cache and use your method. I just wish you could include a way of excluding certain keywords and categories in your code, while RT in turn can include the cookie functionality in his own code.
    Anyway. Thanks a lot. You guys are the best

  48. Udegbunam Chukwudi

    Hi, I need to clarify a few things with you. With regards to the Google smart pricing solution, you say neither your solution nor that of RT works with WP Supercache. Would you happen to know why. I looking at testing your method with different cache plug-ins in order to find one that gets the smart solution to work as well. Thanks and have a nice day

    P.S: Less I forget, can I get a name for the cookie that makes your smart pricing solution work on all pages? I’m looking at trying to see if excluding it from a cache plug-in will work. Thanks again.

  49. Josh

    Stephen, thanks for the info! WOW, I wish I knew about smart pricing a long time ago, I can’t imagine how much money this has cost me. Do you know if other monetization solutions like YPN or Bidvertiser use smart pricing?

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