Getting started with Google AdSense is easy. There are advanced options for experts of course, but a beginner can create an ad in just a couple of minutes. This guide shows how it works.
How does AdSense work?
This is, in fact, how all advertising works, not just AdSense. You get some code and insert it into the pages on your website.
Most of the remaining modules in this course are concerned with how you actually insert the code into pages. This is done using WordPress widgets or plugins.
The next section shows how to create the ad code. Later, we’ll see how to choose what ads are displayed.
1 AdSense ad units
Go to the adsense website (google.com/adsense) and log in. The home page appears with a summary of your recent earnings. In the sidebar on the left, click My ads. Expand Content and click Ad units.
Click the button on the right, New ad unit. This is how you create ad code.
2 Choose the ad type
This choice between Text & display ads and Matched content might not appear if you are new to Google AdSense. Matched content is for large sites with lots of visitors.
If you do get a choice, click Text & display ads.
3 Configure the ad unit
- You will need more than one ad unit, so enter a name for this one in the box. Make it short, but descriptive. I usually name it after the ad type, such as Responsive, Large Rectangle and so on.
- There are several ad types to choose from and experts can see them all by selecting them on this menu. Google knows which ads work best, so stick with the recommended ones.
- The Responsive ad is very very useful and you will use it a lot. The ad is intelligent and it works out how much space it has on the page and makes the ad fit. Put it at the top of the web page and it will display a horizontal banner ad, put it in a sidebar on the page and it will display a vertical skyscraper ad, if it appears on a mobile phone it will shrink to fit the screen. It is brilliant and fully automatic. I recommend it.
- A responsive ad will fill as much space as it can. This can result in some quite large ads that fill the sidebar on your site for example. If you want to limit the size of the ad, choose one of these fixed size ad units. This one is 336 x 280 pixels. The advantage is that you control the size, but the disadvantage is that it limits the ads that can be shown. Only ads that were created with this exact size will appear.
- There are two ad types and they can be text or display. Display ads can use colourful graphics and images and might be animated. At one time AdSense rules said you could have only three text and three display ads on a web page. It no longer applies. This rule lets you choose text ads, display ads, or text and display. Leave it set to the recommended Text & display, and let Google choose what is best.
- Save the ad and get the code.
4 Get the code for an ad unit
When the save button is clicked, some code will appear in a box.
Click in the box to select the code. If it is not automatically highlighted, press Ctrl+A (PC) or Command+A (Mac).
Press Ctrl+C or Command+C to copy the code to the clipboard.
The other modules in this course show where to paste it. Pressing Ctrl+V (PC) or Command+V (Mac) pastes the code into whatever application you are using, including WordPress.
5 View your ad units
As many ad units as you need can be created and they are all listed in a table. If you need the code for an ad unit, just click the Get code link.
Click the table headers – name, ID, Date – to sort the ad units. The ID for an ad is a unique identifier. Some plugins for some website tools allow you to place ads by entering the ID and this saves having to copy and paste code.
6 Matched content ads
Matched content ads look very different to other ads, but creating them and inserting them into pages on your site is no different. Here is a typical matched content ad from elsewhere on this site.
(Most ads are hidden for members on RAWinfopages, so you might need to open a private/incognito browser window to see them).
It is a responsive ad and so the size varies according to the amount of space that is available. The most common place for matched content ads is immediately below the article in the main content area.
You see this type of ad on a huge number of websites. They aren’t all by Google, in fact, AdSense was a latecomer to this type of ad. Many other companies were providing them before Google.
They do two things, both of which are very useful for your site.
- Show thumbnails and links to other pages on your site.
- Show ads for other sites.
In the screenshot you can see that 5 items advertise other pages on RAWinfopages. These links do not earn any income, but they help to keep people on the website. People read more articles and your bounce rate goes down. Brilliant!
There are also 3 ads among the items. These generate income like any other ad. This is great!
7 Create matched content ads
Not everyone is allowed to create and use matched content ads. If you are just starting out, you may not see an option to create them. What you need for Google to enable matched content:
- A well established site
- Lots of visitors
- Lots of great articles
- Content with depth – long articles
Return to step 1 and then at step 2 choose the Matched content ad type. The screen looks like this and there is an example on the left and options on the right.
Click Ad options and then turn on the switch, Monetise with Ads.
Click Style and choose the foreground and background colours to match the style of your website.
Click Size and choose between Responsive and Custom.
The Responsive size is the best for most people. The add will automatically fit the space available on the page. Put it in a sidebar and a narrow matched content ad is displayed, put it in the main body where there is lots of space and a large matched content ad is displayed.
Click SAVE AND GET CODE. This adds the ad to your list of ads (step 1 and 5). You can get the code at any time by clicking the Get code link.