A Few Things I’ve Learned About Google Adsense

I’ve been intending to write a bit about Google Adsense for some time now but have always stopped because I’ve been using them for about four years and remember almost nothing about the particulars of getting started.  I used Google Blogger for the first couple years of blogging and getting started with Adsense was super simple on Blogger.  I think I got a popup message one time that said “Would you like to join the Adsense program?” and I clicked “Yes!”.

And that was that.

I pasted the ad codes in my sidebar and have been chugging along with Adsense ever since.

So maybe I’m not a person who has a whole lot of fresh first-hand knowledge about getting started with Adsense, but I am a person that’s used the Adsense program consistently for several years and can share how it’s been going for me and some of the opinions I’ve formed along the way.  Here are a few of those thoughts and some things I’ve learned about Google Adsense – PLUS – a peek at my Adsense earnings so far this year.

1.  I’ve decided not to use the Link Units.

Adsense has limits on how many ads you can place on a web page.  Currently the policy reads:

AdSense publishers may place up to three AdSense for content units on one webpage. This includes a maximum of one 300×600 ad unit (or similar sized ad) per page. You may also place a maximum of three link units and two search boxes on each webpage.

I’ve always run the maximum three Content Units (which are the ads with pictures that most of us think of when running ads on our blogs).  But the link units?  I’ve never liked the look of them and have never added them to my blog. I know it seems like you would want to maximize your earnings as much as possible and use as many ads as you are allowed, but I just don’t care for how the Link Units look.  I think they look too much like links to content on my blog and are confusing at best, deceiving at the worst, and I’ve made the decision not to use them.

2.  I do use the Search Box Option.

While I”m not maximizing my earnings by using Link Units, I have always used the option of running a search box. The Google Adsense placement policy allows you to run up to two search boxes on each webpage but frankly, I think two search boxes is kind of overdoing it.  But I have always taken advantage of running one search box on my blog and I even like to use it myself to quickly find a post I’ve done!  And that’s OK.  You’re not penalized in any way if you use the search box yourself  (whereas you can be penalized if you click on the ads that you’re running.) I don’t earn a whole lot with a search box, but it does add an extra $10 or so each month to my earnings so I plan to keep using this option.

3.  The Ad placed at the end of my posts is the best earner.

As we’ve seen in the Adsense placement policy above, Adsense lets you run three content unit ads on a webpage.  I have always made sure to have all three running. I have one ad at the top of my site, one in my sidebar, and one at the end of every post. A while back I decided to dig into my earnings history and create a spreadsheet of how each of the ads performed. I discovered that the ad I place at the end of each post was almost always the best earner every month. (You can check these stats in Adsense by going to “Performance Reports” and then choosing “Ad Units”).  If you’ve always just relied on the sidebar for your ad placement, you might want to test out moving an ad to the end of your posts to see if it will increase any earnings.

4.  Plugins Can Help with Ad Placement.

Placing an ad at the end of each post was much easier for me once I moved to WordPress and could use plugins. I use the Quick Adsense plugin for placing an ad at the end of each post.  Once I pasted the ad code into the plugin, I could just forget it and it takes care of itself!

5.  Take the time to set up custom channels.

While I can’t say for certain how much setting up custom channels may have helped my earnings, I know it certainly couldn’t hurt. I’ll also admit that the term “Custom Channel” has never made any logical sense to me whatsoever. Nevertheless, I set that weirdness of terminology aside  and forged ahead with setting up custom channels for my ads. My understanding has been that the main benefit of setting up the custom channels is that you can check a box that says “show this custom channel to advertisers as a targetable ad placement” which helps advertisers find web pages that are more “targeted” to their products. This can increase your click through rate if the ads are a better fit for what your readers might be interested in.

I’m hoping to do a longer tutorial on this subject in the future. For now, here’s the quick version. You click on “My Ads”, and then click on “Custom Channels”. When you click on “New Custom Channel” you will see a list of the ad units you’ve created. When you select one, it moves it to the other box on the right of “Added Ad Units” and then more fields will appear to fill in. Here’s a screen shot of how I have one of my custom channels filled in for the ad unit I put at the end of every blog post.

6.  My finalized payment amount is always a little less than my total monthly earnings.

One thing I had to get used to with Adsense is that the dollar amount I would see on the last day of the month, which I thought would be the amount of my upcoming payment, was not really the final number. Adsense always “finalizes” the amount. This Adsense support page explains a bit more about that process.  I’ve gotten used to the fact now that my finalized payment will always be just a little smaller than my total earnings for the month.  I remember this being really frustrating when I was at a level of just making the $100 payout every month. My total earnings for the month were just a little over $100, but then my finalized earnings would drop to just below $100 and I would have to wait another month to get paid. This is still frustrating for me sometimes when I have a hopeful goal for my earnings for the month, and I think I have met that goal, only to have my finalized earnings drop me just below it. Bummer.

7.  Direct deposit is nice

I first started seeing regular payments from Adsense somwhere in 2012 and that’s when they still mailed you a check every month. It was sometime later that year, or maybe early 2013, when they switched to direct deposit and I was not real thrilled when they first announced that change. But since that time I’ve really come to like the direct deposit option. It happens around the 23rd day of the month (for the previous month’s earnings) and you get an email advising they have made the deposit. Now I wonder why I ever thought the check was nice.

And Finally . . . A Moment of Transparency

One of the things that new bloggers wonder about is “Can I really make any money with Adsense?”  And bloggers that have been blogging for a year or two are wondering “What are other bloggers earning with Adsense and how do I compare?”

So to wrap up this blog post I thought I would have a moment of transparency and share what my earnings have been so far this year.  I truly don’t know myself how I might compare with others – AND – I don’t want the focus to only be for the sake of comparison which ends up just making us feel either bad about ourselves or good about ourselves depending on where we end up. Instead, my hope is by sharing this, I can give you a more intimate look at what it’s really like to use the Adsense program to earn money as a blogger, which in turn can hopefully help you make decisions about monetizing your blog too.

Please note that the Adsense earnings shown below are almost entirely from my other blog that has been around since July, 2010.  The earnings are from running the three content ads and a search box. One ad is at the top of my site, one ad is near the top of my sidebar, and one ad is at the end of every post.

The monthly earnings below do also include the earnings from this blog which is a new blog for me and has only been around for a few months and gets second priority as I can find the time. At this point it is only seeing a couple hundred page views per month and usually less than a dollar per month in earnings. So while the monthly totals below do also include this blog, it is such a tiny fraction of the earnings that I decided it wasn’t worth separating out.

I’ll also include the pageview traffic as that very much relates to the earnings you are able to realize.

Jan, 2015    Pageviews:  97,184     Earnings: $3oo.05

Feb, 2015    Pageviews:  78,222     Earnings:  $367.00

Mar, 2015    Pageviews:   90,996    Earnings:  $456.89

Apr, 2015   Pageviews:  76,868    Earnings:  $467.68

May, 2015   Pageviews:  67,351    Earnings:  $498.00

June, 2015   Pageviews:  97,161     Earnings:  $3565.50

July, 20145   Pageviews:  95,667    Earnings:  $425.91

Aug, 2015    Pageviews:  89,863    Earnings: $454.34

So there is the ability to earn money with your blog through the Adsense program as your blog grows and your traffic grows.  For me, it’s been a good program to use and I plan to keep using Adsense in the future.

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