Can you still make money blogging and using Google AdSense in 2018? YES! Best of all, Google sends you free organic traffic, & them pays you when these visitors click on ads – what can be better?
I’ve earned over $370,000 with AdSense, and continue to make pretty good passive income.
Currently, I’m earning over $100/day (over $4k/month) from my Adsense blogs, with literally less that 1 hour upkeep per month.
The only instance when I actually spend any time is when I purchase a new investment site, and work on installing/optimizing ad placement on it.
Sometimes, I may order 1-3 articles for a new website on Upwork (or my wife will write them), to do a little SEO/Content marketing boost, and that is it.
After that, every one of my sites goes into passive income mode.
1. How AdSense Works
2 Is AdSense profitable?
2.1 How much traffic do you need?
2.2 How much can you earn?
3. How to place AdSense on your website / blog
4. Adsense CPM/RPM (revenue per 1000 views)
5. HOW MUCH OTHER BLOGGERS EARN
6. How to increase Cost per click (cpc) explained
7. How to increase Click-through-rate (ctr)
8. GOOGLE ADS OPTIMIZATION
8.1 OPTIMIZATION TIPS
8.2 AD PLACEMENT – HOW TO PUT ADS ON YOUR BLOG
8.3 Best Ads Layout & Ad-unit sizes
8.4 Responsive vs Fixed Size Ads – Which is better?
8.5 Google Auto Ads – Yes or No?
9 HOW I GOT STARTED WITH ADSENSE
10 IS ADSENSE RIGHT FOR YOU
11 Adsense dos & don’ts
How does AdSense work?
Basically the way Google Ads work is this: first, a blogger needs to sign up for the program. A huge perk is that Adsense is absolutely FREE to use!
Once approved, you get access to tons of advertisers in Google’s network, who want to display their ads on your website.
You create the ad units, place the ad code on your site, and sit back. When your readers like the ad and click on it, you get paid. Sounds simple, right?
Well, the trick here is how many visitors your blog gets, and where you position those ad units on your site, so that you don’t violate Google’s TOS (policy).
Many newbie bloggers run into this problem when they are trying to get more people to click on ads.
ADSENSE PRO TIP: Never click ads on your own website – it’s a sure way to get your account banned for life Click To Tweet
ADSENSE PRO TIP: Never click ads on your own website – it’s a sure way to get your account banned for life. Google has sophisticated algorithms to detect invalid clicks!
Also never participate in so-called click for click schemes – they don’t work, and once again, you put your adsense account at risk!
Is Adsense really profitable?
The answer is YES! Adsense is the highest paying main-stream ad network, and a well-developed Adsense website is even more valuable today, then it was 1, 2, 3 years ago.
While everyone is going crazy over Amazon affiliate, FBA, Shopify drop-shipping, Affiliate marketing, etc., I am convinced that Adsense is one of best and fastest ways to make money online. Especially, if you are into the “hands-off” approach.
You can see that this is true by looking at listings on Empire Flippers (EF) and Flippa. There is a complete lack of quality AdSense listings on these two biggest platforms for buying and selling a website.
Furthermore, I recently sold one of my AdSense sites in 3 hours and 38 minutes, after the listing went live on EF.
Even the marketplace managers were amazed – they told me it would take 2-3 months. However, I knew it will be a quick sale. Here is why:
- There was only ONE 100% AdSense website at that time, listed on Empire Flippers, which was selling for “50-60” months of earnings
- Other sites that utilized AdSense had a very small percentage of total income attributed to Google’s ad network
- Most “quality” Adsense sites on Flippa ether sold for an insane 40+ multiples, or sellers we unwilling to sell for less than 40X. Often they wanted 50X or more.
- It’s nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced (under 35X) Adsense website
- It’s nearly impossible to find a decent Adsense site, period!
How much traffic do you need to make money with Adsense?
To get started with Google ads, there is no minimum requirement for website traffic. Even if you have 5 visitors a day, you can still sign up and create and Adsense account.
Brandon Gaille from “the Blog Millionaire” makes an estimated $9K – $33K per month on his blog, from AdSense alone! This estimate is based on 1.5 million monthly page views on his website. Not too shabby!
Maybe he actually makes more – at some point he claimed to make $100K / month, but I would want to see some proof of income and site traffic. You can see his organic site traffic here on SemRush.Brandon Gaille from “the Blog Millionaire” makes an estimated $9K – $33K per month on his blog, from AdSense alone! Click To Tweet
Bottom line – the more visitors you have on your website – the more money you will make. However, if you place the ads in the right spots, you can make much more money, from the same number of readers!
How To Display Adsense on your website
There are several ways to deploy AdSense on your website(s). The most primitive way is to copy ad unit code, and paste it directly into your content. However, if you do this, you will quickly realize how limited and ineffective this method is.
There is also Auto Ads – paste one piece of code into a website’s header. However, they look ugly, and you will be losing 40-60% of your revenue, because of poor earning performance!
If you run a custom CSM (content management system), the only way to deploy Adsense is to include ads into template files. I do this on some of my sites, and used to do it on all of my WordPress blogs, before I developed my own WP Adsense plugin.
If your blog/website is based on WordPress, I recommend my AdSense Ninja plugin, that is built to make your ad insertion easy, fast, and most of all, profitable! I use this plugin on all my blogs/sites, and see over 70% ad revenue increase over other plugin.
Obviously, you are free to use any other method of placing ads on your site. However you will most like face an issue of serving different ad sizes on Desktop vs Mobile, and may naturally resort to “responsive ads” (which change in size depending on user’s device). However be prepared to lose upward of 80% of revenue on Desktop and 50-70% on mobile, if you use responsive ads.
I recommend that you test responsive VS fixed size ads, to see for yourself mow much money you are leaving on the table.
BTW, you don’t have to use my plugin to get maximum ad revenue. In the video below, I explain how you can do everything that my plugin does, without spending a dime.
The only drawback of the above method, is you would have to do some “coding”, and it takes 1-2 hours to set everything up.
PRO TIP: If you follow the steps in the video above, you can easily improve your ad revenue by 30-50% over other plugins of Auto Ads. It is very much worth your time! Once again – if you want an easy way to place ads on your site, i recommend my plugin, and if you want to achieve same results for FREE, follow the video above.
Of course there are other WP plugins for Adsense, but none of them accomplish what I, as an AdSense publisher need. This simply because they are developed by “programmers” who have no experience with Adsense, and don’t know what publishers need. All they do is just copy the same set of features from one another.
That is why I developed my own plugin! If I could do a side by side earnings comparison between my plugin and any other, I would.
Unfortunately, none of them have the optimization features that are intended to maximize your Ad revenue – therefore the test would not be “equal”.
Nevertheless, you are welcome to try the “free” options available on WP Plugin directory. But I have to warn you – getting overwhelmed with useless functions is the least of the problems you will face. The most important issue will be loss of revenue, due to poor ad performance.
How much does Adsense pay per 1,000 views?
On average, you can earn anywhere from $2 to $25+ for every 1000 visitors to you blog or site. This is referred to as RPM (also known as CPM) or Revenue per 1000 Impressions or Page Views.
Therefore, if your blog gets 30,000 readers each month, you would make between $60 to $1500+ per month.
Now if your blog is about some “monetizeable” topics and your readers are mainly from US (this is discussed below), you will likely earn over $15+ RPM or $900+ each month!
Examples of how much bloggers earn
To give you an example, I went to Flippa (an “eBay” for websites) and just searched for some sites that make money with Google ads.
I used Flippa ONLY for researching information for this guide. I don’t recommend you start buying websites if you’ve never ran a blog/website before, and have no experience with Domains, DNS, Hosting, FTP, cPanel, WordPress, Google Analytics, SEO, Social, etc.
Also, it’s a relatively easy way to lose your money if you don’t know what you are doing!
Just like in the Stock Market, the site can be a Pump and Dump scheme. This means that the traffic could be artificially inflated, and clicks on Adsense can be hijacked with Bots.
Once Google figures this out, they will ban the AdSense account involved in such schemes – big or small!
I found a few that look Legit. Here is how much they make, and what their blog is about:
Tech blog making $1,200 per month on AdSense, with 86,000 page views
This site is about tech – phones, computers, windows, mac, iPhone, Android, etc. They get about 86,000 page views per months, and last month made about $1200.
If we divide $1200 by 86K, we get RPM of about $13.95, which is pretty good if you ask me (compared to most sites you can find on flippa.
Here is a “gold prices site in Indonesia” that made $450 with 545K page views last month.
So this site’s RPM is $0.826. This shows you that where you readers come from is also an important factor in how much your blog will make. Big difference with $13.95 RPM for the first example.
Cost per click (CPC), and how to increase it
AdSense is primarily a CPC or Cost per Click ad network, so you earn money every time a legit site visitor clicks on the ad, displayed on your site.
Cost per click ranges from $0.01 to sometimes over $20 per click (I once had something like a $50 click, and got paid for it). However, those are extremely rare!
EX: Hair-brushing topic will make a lot less per click than a Mortgage or Credit Card or Auto Insurance one, because “hair brushing” pays $1.32, whereas “auto insurance” pays $56.70 per click, according to latest SEMrush report.
However if you are a beginner blogger, it will be nearly impossible for you to rank highly for “Auto Insurance” any time soon, whereas hair brushes is fairly attainable. The trick here is to find topics/keywords that have high CPC and relatively low competition.
SEMRush is an excellent tool to research CPC for specific keywords, potential traffic volume to your blog, and competition. Use the widget below, to see how it works (its FREE):
To have a dramatic effect on CPC, you need to find and develop high paying content. Most of the time CPC is around $0.75-$1.50.
Ex: Let’s say you get about 100 clicks per day, averaging $0.85 – this means you earn $85 per day.
You can’t control CPC directly. But, depending on your blog’s content, you will have higher or lower paying ads.
What you can control (in some ways) is how many clicks you get, by optimizing ad placement. Be careful with this though, you don’t want to violate Google’s AdSense TOS/Policy.
At the end of the day, there is not very much you can do to increase CPC, because it depends on current bids from advertisers, time of the year, advertiser budgets, and the topic of your website.
The only thing you can do, is change the “topic”. Remember, AdSense is primarily a contextual advertising network, and while 20-40% of revenue is from targeted or personalized ads, the majority is still based on your content.
If you are starting a new blog, try to pick a topic that is interesting to you, pays well, and has relatively low competition. If you already have a blog, find a related topic that has a higher CPC – this way you will increase your overall revenue!
Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and how to increase it
The most effective way to dramatically increase CTR and overall site earnings, is to optimize your ads layout, and select the best performing ad sizes!
When you place ads in the correct positions, and optimal ad sizes, your visitors will click on more ads (click rate) and you will make more money!
The hard part, is where do you put ads, what ad sizes to use, and how to display appropriate ads on DESKTOP and MOBILE.
Our Ads Ninja WP plugin will help you do all of the above in an easy and fast manner (if your website runs on WordPress). However, the plugin is not free.
You can do everything that our plugin does yourself, only it will be much more time-consuming, and managing ads / changing positions will be somewhat tricky. But fear not – before I developed my plugin (for my own use primarily), I did all ad placements “manually”. I describe exactly how I did it in this video.
Ultimately, you want to look at your Page RPM (revenue per 1000 page views) to determine how much you are making per visitor.
To increase your CTR and Page RPM, (read the optimization section of this guide) you should:
- Grow your audience
- Optimize blog’s Ads Layout
- Improve your mobile site.
- Attract more readers from hight Cost-per-Click countries, such as US, Canada, Western Europe.
How to make more money on your blog, by improving Google Ads (optimization).
So there are many things that are outside of your control. For example, how much you get paid for each click (CPC or cost-per-click), or what ads show up on your website.
However, there are also many things you CAN control, by improving where your visitors come from, and what your blog is about.
Both of these will have huge impact on CPC.
The topic of your blog is important:
If it is about knitting or how to collect birch juice or smart phone games, chances are your CPC will be low.
By contrast, Insurance, Credit Cards, Personal Finance are all HOT topics.
However, you will have a lot of competition in these “niches” so unless you already have many readers on your finance blog, maybe it’s not a good idea to start one.
There are many other “good” topics, such as Health, Home Improvement, Cars, etc. Be creative, but definitely blog about your passion!
Where your readers are from is also critical:
As you can see in the example of the Indonesian site above, it gets very low RPM of about $0.82 cents.
This is because most if its readers are in Indonesia, where advertisers pay much less per click.
Therefore having US / Western European readers will greatly improve your CPC, so you should target these geographic locations with your content.
Adsense Optimization Tips
Changing the topic and location of readers on your website is hard and takes time. If your blog has been around for some time, it already has an audience and ranks for certain keywords in specific countries.
However, you can still make a massive impact on your revenue with site design, ad placement, ad units / colors / alignment / spacing, etc. Basically this is what’s called ASO or AdSense Optimization.
Brandon Gaille from “the Blog Millionaire” had a podcast called “How to make $100K from AdSense”. The podcast has been strangely deleted from the inter-web, but the “transcript” can be found here.
I put transcript in quotation marks, because that post was likely modified for the same reason that the Podcast had disappeared.
What is the best ad placement?
Brandon in his podcast mentioned that his layout and theme were tested with over 1,000,000 monthly page views to determine the best placement for ads.
I was skeptical, but after looking up his blog on SEMRush, he does get 1 million readers each month! OMG 🙂
Basically our versions are similar. Only I’m still skeptical about his choice of theme, although I will test it on my blog that gets many readers each month.
Brandon’s favorite WordPress theme is Newspaper 6, which you can look up or see my screenshot here:
In the podcast, Brandon said that he uses 970×90 large leaderboard ad between header/navigation and content, and then 300×250 rectangle below title. I did not find 970×90 on his site, when I checked in Oct, 2016.
Best Ad Layouts & ad-unit sizes:
From my own experience and Brandon’s podcast (although they don’t line up 100%) here are the best ads placement and sizes on your site:
My preferred DESKTOP ads layout:
- 728×90 or 728×130 banner, centered above the content (above or below post title).
- 250×250 square or 300×250 rectangle or 728×90 leaderboard, centered, under paragraph 3 or 4, depending on paragraph length.
- 250×250 square or 300×250 rectangle or 728×90 leaderboard, centered, under paragraph 6-7, or after content.
- No Sidebar ads
I don’t use sidebar ads for several reasons – mainly because over the years they did not work well for me. Adsense pays the most for the first ad displayed on page, and least for the last ad.
If you look at page HTML structure, sidebar comes LAST, even below comments, so it will have the lowest CPC on page. Also I noticed that people are not very likely to click on these ads.
My preference is to leave the sidebar space for the latest/most popular posts and to advertise my own product(s) or get people to sign up for email list.
My preferred MOBILE ads layout:
- 250×250 square or 300×250 rectangle, above the content (below post title).
- 300×250 rectangle, centered, after paragraph 3 or 4, depending on paragraph length.
- 300×250 rectangle, centered, under paragraph 5-7, or after content.
- Page header as short as possible (no big logos, unnecessary bread-crumbs, meta, search box, etc).
Brandon’s DESKTOP layout – podcast version:
This is what was in the podcast, but when I went to his own site, it was slightly different – see above.
- 250×250 square, centered under post title
- 300×250 rectangle, centered, under paragraph 5-7, depending on paragraph length.
- 300×250 rectangle, centered, under paragraph 10-14, or after content.
- No sidebar ads (only Brandon’s own products are displayed in sidebar).
Brandon’s MOBILE layout:
- 250×250 square, centered under post title
- 250×250 rectangle, centered, under paragraph 5-7, depending on paragraph length.
- 250×250 rectangle, centered, under paragraph 10-14, or after content.
- Page header as short as possible (no big logos, unnecessary bread-crumbs, meta, search box, etc).
Here is how Brandon’s mobile site looks like (see below). Btw, it violates Google AdSense policy 🙂 On mobile, ads should not push content below the fold! When you add Safari’s address bar when the page just loads, you don’t see any content on the screen of an iPhone 5.
So overall our tastes are similar, but I don’t use Rectangle ads at the top … although I would like to experiment with them.
Also I prefer 336×280 over 300×250 ads. They are same proportions, but 336 ad is just bigger, and is more likely to get clicks.
While I don’t have 1 million readers every month, I’m sure Brandon tested 336 ads as well.
How to optimize mobile Google ads
So Brandon has his site automatically switch from 300×250 ad on Desktop to 250×250 ad on Mobile. It’s actually pretty easy to do, by using this free Mobile Ads script.
I recommend using a theme that has a tiny header on mobile – Brandon’s header is super tiny (about 50px tall), but then he has the date and other meta and a huge title, that push down content and can get you in trouble.
Basically, on mobile, most of your clicks will come from the top ad, and second from the top.
Other ads will be rarely clicked, so it is very important to have your top ad as clickable as possible, without breaking the rules. I think I did pretty a good job with it.
Responsive vs Fixed Ads – Which Produces More Revenue?
Google created responsive ads as a solution for bloggers to deal with ads on MOBILE, by adjusting ad size to match content width. However, more often than not google will show a small ad, that user is less likely to click.
In my experience, responsive ads perform ~ 50% worse on Mobile ads sizes, and up-to 80% worse on Desktop compared to fixed size ads!
On one of my investment websites I was able to increase earnings 104% by just switching to fixed size ads on both desktop and mobile.
The biggest issue for bloggers and site owners is: how do you display proper ads on mobile & desktop?
I solved this problem with my AdSense plugin for WordPress, which allows you to display 2 different ads in the same placement (location) depending on user’s device.
If your site is not on WordPress, but is using PHP, you can use my free mobile ads script to solve this problem. This script can also be used on WP, but requires some “coding”.
Bottom line – if you want to make more money with AdSense – spend a little more time on setting up fixed size ads, and avoid responsive ads.
Google Auto Ads – YES or NO?:
Similar to responsive ads, Auto Ads also adjust ad size based on content width. In addition to that, Google’s AI will display ads throughout your website automatically, based on the algorithm’s prediction as to where ads are more likely to be clicked, as well as not to disturb the site’s design.
In my opinion, and based on 40 days of AB testing, Auto Ads fail at both!
- First, Auto ads look completely out-of-place, and make your site look pretty horrible.
- Second, ads display in bad positions, making them less likely to be clicked
- Third, in my test Auto ads earnings were 61% less than regular ads.
- Fourth, in may cases and/or on certain pages, Auto ads won’t display at all, even if you have them properly setup.
Once again, my recommendation for webmasters is to place ads either using my plugin, another plugin, or manually. The extra work during the initial setup will pay off very quickly!
How I got started with AdSense, and how I’m doing now:
In 2008, when I started my first blog, I learned that Google provides ways for bloggers to make a few bucks when readers click on Ads. I was very skeptical, but excited.
However, when I learned that titans like NY Times, Huff Post, and many smaller websites and blogs are killing it with AdSense, I decided to give it a go.
Now, I make $112 per day doing what I love, and not having a boss!
So a while back, I did some research. I found this guy Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker who made $132K in one month on AdSense.
So that’s great (I mean really awesome) but he had 100s of thousands of site visitors every month.
Most bloggers never come near that volume, including myself.
If you read the Shoemoney blog, Jeremy says he stopped using AdSense a long time ago, in favor of direct advertisers. But if you go to the Shoemoney site now, there are Google ads all over. Ironic, huh? I guess AdSense is not bad after all:)
You may say – well that’s Shoemoney – what about you?
Well – here is my Adsense check; a bit smaller that Jeremy’s but still pretty sweet, if you ask me. This is my May 2011 payment from Google, from the good old days of paper checks sent by mail (before direct bank deposits):
I was pretty nervous having an AdSense Check for $18,704 sent by US Mail 😯 🙄 … here are the other ones:
Is AdSense right for you?
Is using AdSense a viable strategy for small-time to medium level bloggers?
Well, apparently it is.
Whether you already have a popular blog, or working on a new blog – you can already start making some income with AdSense. Of course it’s best if you have as many readers on your blog as possible.
If you don’t have many site visitors (like me), you have two options:
1. write mad amounts of good quality content and wait for it to rank and bring traffic
2. buy an established blog in your niche. This is what I do. I invest in AdSense websites and blogs. I put up my ads there and earn pretty good money – about $2,000-2,500 a month. This covers my mortgage.
My strategy is to improve ads on the sites I purchase, so that they are more visible and more visitors click on them. I look for and acquire underperforming blogs (in terms of “monetization”) and improve where and how the ads show.
If you run your blog, and have readers, then definitely give Adsense a try.
Dos and Don’ts of Adsense
For me Adsense is a great source of passive income, and I cherish it! I won’t do anything that could put my account at risk, because that would mean losing $100s of thousands of future revenues, and making my websites earn 3-5 times less!
I try to follow Adsense TOS (terms of service) to the letter, and if I’m not sure about something, I don’t risk it.
Here is what every adsense publisher should DO:
- Read, understand and follow AdSense program policies!
The end 🙂 … If you follow these rules, you should be alright.
Here is what every adsense publisher should NOT DO:
There are so many things here, and I can’t list them all. I will just list the main ones.
- NEVER click your own ads, and don’t ask your friends and family to do so!
- Don’t participate in “click-for-click” schemes.
- Don’t ask site visitors to click ads “to support” your website.
- Don’t point arrows at ads, hinting users to click on them.
- Don’t place ads in sticky sidebars or popups, etc.
- Don’t use large ads above the fold on mobile – top mobile ads should be smaller than 300×250 px.
- Don’t put your ads above the fold, if it pushes your content below the fold.
- Don’t make your site content look like ads, to confuse users.
- Don’t auto reload pages where google ads are displayed.
Following these and other rules, will help you secure a long and prosperous partnership with Google!
DON’T DO – Ad placements that may (and likely will) get you banned
Here is what NOT to do if you want to make money on AdSense.
I found this new site for sale on Flippa, that is killing it with Google ads:
So their RPM is way on the upper end of the scale. With 12,874 page views in November, they’ve made $963. By doing simple math, we get RPM of around $75!!! This seems awfully high, if you ask me.
However, after looking at their home page, I think their “success” is short-lived and Google will likely ban them from Adsense.
Why? Because in my opinion they violate Google’s policies.
Take a look at the screenshot of their site – the ads look very misleading:
On top of things, the seller of this site has a pretty poor rating – about 50% out of 24 transactions.
This tells me that something is really fishy with the site and the seller. So if it were me, I would not deal with him or her.
This is just an example of what you probably should NOT do. If blogging and making money with AdSense is your long-term goal, you want to stay on good terms with Google.
You can’t find any reasonably priced, quality AdSense sites anymore
To demonstrate the lack of quality adsense sites for sale, at a reasonable price, here is a screenshot of EP Marketplace listings monetized with AdSense, taken on Dec 26, 2017:
At the time of this screenshot, there were 62 live listings, and only ONE 100% AdSense site. I would never buy it, because it’s making less than $1,000/month and the seller wants $58,000 for it (58X multiple).
Sure, EP states that average income is $2,078/month, but that is AVERAGE for the last 12 months!
Back in Sep 2016, the site was making over $6K, but has since dropped to just under $1K income. Moreover, page views dropped from 386K to 45K per month. See 2nd screenshot:
What all this means is that website investors who really know what they are doing, scoop up all the good sites, and pay premium multiples, BECAUSE they know AdSense is the best!