Adsense – some love it, some hate it. It doesn’t work for all sites, but there’s no denying that on the right site, it can make a lot of money.
Most beginners don’t understand what type of site it works well on. They slap Adsense on their blog and expect the cash to come rolling in. Of course, it doesn’t. Why? Because Adsense doesn’t work well on their type of site.
In this article, I explain the underlying principle of Adsense and look at the attributes of sites that are successful with Adsense.
- Blogs: because that’s my target audience and what most beginners use.
- Made For Adsense (MFA) niche mini sites: because that’s a common model used by people actually making money from Adsense.
The Underlying Principle Of Adsense
First, we need to understand the underlying principle of Adsense. I’ve seen people skirt around the issue, but I’ve never seen anyone actually come out and say it:
For Adsense to work well, your content should not solve the reader’s problem. If you solve their problem, they won’t need to click the ads.
If you leave the reader needing more information, you increase the chance of them clicking a contextual ad which may solve their needs.
The better your content is, the lower your click through rate (CTR) will be.
So Should I Start Writing Mediocre Content?
No! Not unless it’s for an MFA site. If you start writing mediocre content on a blog, you’ll lose your readers and your blog will start to fail on all fronts.
For a blog, you need great content. This increases readership, encourages other sites to link to you, leading to more traffic, a higher PageRank, etc. Take the great content away and your blog will fail. Blogs can make money from Adsense, but they generally have a low CTR.
For an MFA site, good content is less important. These sites don’t rely on the content to promote the site – they are more likely to use Article Marketing. They typically have mediocre content and, as a result, a high CTR.
Other Factors Affecting Adsense Success
There are many other factors affecting the success of Adsense, including:
1. Target Audience / Ad Awareness
Its well known that experienced Internet users are less likely to click ads than newer / casual Internet users. This appears to be related to visitor awareness of what’s content and what’s an ad. Experienced Internet users can spot ads a mile off and avoid clicking them.
The topic of a site determines the type of visitor it receives. Sites about web development, making money online, etc will attract visitors who are experienced Internet users and mostly Adsense blind. Sites about knitting or pets will attract visitors who are more likely to click ads.
MFA Sites: Once again, depends on the niche, but the niche is carefully selected to attract less technical visitors.
2. Where Do Your Visitors Come From?
Does your site cater for regular visitors or search engine visitors? What about social traffic, such as that from StumbleUpon?
Regular visitors don’t normally click ads. They come to read your content and go away happy, their goal fulfilled.
Search engine visitors do click ads. They arrive at your site seeking to address a specific need. If your content doesn’t solve the need, they’ll keep looking. If they see a related Adsense ad, they are likely to click it.
Social traffic visitors don’t normally click ads. What’s more, a surge of social traffic results in high traffic with few clicks, drastically lowering your CTR, which can result in you being Smart Priced by Google (more on this later).
MFA Sites: Only target search engine visitors, meaning higher CTR.
3. Niche / Value Of Clicks
Having a high CTR is great – but what if most clicks only earn you 6 cents? To make serious money from Adsense you need to target high paying niches.
MFA Sites: The niche is normally carefully selected to result in high paying clicks.
Even if you have a low CTR, decent money can still be made with high traffic. After all, 1% of 1000 is the same as 25% of 40 (it is: trust me, I checked).
However, you probably need upwards of 10,000 unique visitors a day to make serious money. At that point, you’ll be earning more from other sources, but Adsense can supplement that nicely.
MFA Sites: Typically not high traffic, but this is offset by a high CTR.
5. Adsense Smart Pricing
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.
MFA Sites: Normally have a high CTR, so no danger of smart pricing.
Note: If you have a WordPress blog, it may be worth using the Who Sees Ads plugin so that only search engine traffic see Adsense ads. I haven’t done this on this blog yet as I’m looking into another option at the moment.
Putting It All Together
To gauge how successful a site is likely to be with Adsense, all these factors need to be taken into account. If a site is weak in one area, it can still be successful if its strong in the other areas. That said, lets take a look at the ideal site for Adsense and the ‘Anti-Adsense’ site where it won’t work well.
The Ideal Site For Adsense should have mediocre content, be targeted at search engine traffic and be in a niche which attracts inexperienced web users and high clicks. With all that in place, the higher the traffic the better!
Adsense Won’t Work Well on sites with good content, regular readers and social traffic, especially in niches which attract experienced web users or which have low paying clicks.
Okay, if you haven’t figured it out yet:
MFA sites are very close to the ideal site for Adsense. The only struggle they have is with achieving high traffic, but the traffic they do receive is targeted traffic, resulting in a high CTR, so they make money.
Blogs are much closer to the anti-Adsense site. For a blog to be successful, they have to embrace many of the things that don’t work well with Adsense. For Adsense to work on a blog, you’ll need traffic and LOTS of it – although some niches may be moderately successful with only medium traffic. If you’re in the making money online, blogging or a technical niche, best of luck!
The Adsense Dilemma
If you really want to make money with Adsense, then you have to face up to the fact that you’re unlikely to do so with your blog. You then have a choice:
1. Persist with your blog. Try to build it into a top-of-niche, high-quality blog, with lots of traffic. This will take a long time and you won’t see much money until you’ve ‘made it’.
2. Forget your blog, at least for making money purposes. Instead look into creating MFA sites.
That’s the Adsense dilemma. What will you do?
The Final Word
A lot of this has been repeated in various places around the Internet. I’ve tried to pull it all together. The one thing I haven’t seen written elsewhere, is the theory:
Your content shouldn’t solve people’s problems if you want them to click Adsense ads.
If you disagree with me, tell me why! If you agree – what will you do?
Something I’ve been thinking about recently is Adsense optimized WordPress Themes. If you’re starting multiple blogs and your goal is make money by running Adsense on them, then getting some themes already set up for Adsense may be the way to go…