One of the ways in which to make money from your website or blog is to display adverts. Online advertising is huge and billions are spent each year. You could grab a piece of that!
Making money from your website has been covered before in 6 ways to make money from your website and it was noted that displaying adverts on your website is one of the ways available to you. It is passive income and once set up, you can go and lie on a beach while the money comes in.
OK, it is not quite that simple and you still have to work hard to drive visitors to your site, create content and so on, but you don’t need to worry about the ads because they are automated.
There are many advertising partners on the internet and some people prefer one and some prefer another. Some won’t let you join unless you have a certain number of visitors, such as 50,000 or even 100,000 a month.
AdSense is good for beginners
Google is one of the biggest internet companies and AdSense is one of the most popular advertising schemes around. It is a good place to start because is fairly beginner friendly and it works, even for small-ish sites.
Later on when your site has grown you might want to try alternative advertising schemes and you can always switch.
You are not tied to Google AdSense forever and you can even use AdSense alongside other advertising schemes. It is within the rules.
As pointed out, one of the best things about earning money from advertising is that once it is set up, there is nothing else to do. With absolutely no effort, you will make money every month.
No effort? Yes, advertising is basically ‘set and forget’. Once it is set up, you can forget about it and focus on other things, like creating great content for your website or promoting it (see The On Page SEO Guide).
The way it works is that you define spaces in your website design in which adverts can be placed. It is then up to the advertiser, such as AdSense, to fill in the spaces and you do not need to worry about them.
For example, you might want to have an advertising spot in the sidebar of your web pages. All you do is place a WordPress widget in the sidebar in the design, paste in some code provided by AdSense and that’s it. Adverts will automatically appear on every page of your site.
You can also place ads at the top of pages, at the bottom, in the middle and so on. There are WordPress plugins that make this easy, such as Ad Inserter.
Can I choose the ads displayed on my site?
No, yes, well, sort of. It is set and forget, remember. You choose where on the page adverts are to appear and AdSense displays the ads automatically. You do not have to view and approve the ads that are displayed. In fact, you cannot do this even if you wanted to.
This does not mean that you have no control over what adverts displayed.
AdSense organises adverts into categories and sub-categories based on their subject. You cannot see or block individual adverts, but you can choose which categories of ads you like and dislike.
For example, if you don’t want political adverts, you can block the Politics ad category. You can also block dating, black magic, politics, religion, gambling, sexual references, and many more.
There are dozens of categories, so you can fine tune what adverts appear, but without having to view and approve individual ones. Click a switch and you can block all adverts about meat products if you are a vegetarian, for instance.
How and when do I get paid by AdSense?
AdSense is an ad network that pays when people click adverts. You could show a million adverts and earn nothing if no-one clicked them. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as pay-per-click and it is the most common type of advertising.
Different ads pay different amounts, so it is not possible to say exactly how much you will earn when someone clicks an advert. It may be a little, but it could be lot. Anything from a few cents/pennies to several dollars/pounds. It is a bit of a lottery with varying payouts.
When your advertising earnings exceed a threshold level, a minimum amount, payment will proceed on 21st of the month. How soon you receive the money depends on the payment method.
The minimum amount varies with the currency and is US $100, UK £60 and so on. With sufficient ads and site visitors, AdSense will become a regular monthly income.
The fastest and most reliable payment method is to provide Google with your bank details. Money will then be transferred directly into your bank account within seven days.
A cheque, bank transfer, Western Union Quick Cash and other methods are available, but they can take longer. Cheques can take up to four weeks for example.
Don’t be tempted to cheat
Cheating, such as by clicking your own adverts or encouraging someone else to click them is against the rules. As you can imagine, there are always people trying earn more by cheating, so Google is especially vigilant and is able to detect cheaters.
You will lose your account and your earnings, so don’t try!
What you need to do to join AdSense
In order to display Google AdSense adverts and get paid for them, you must sign up at the AdSense website (google.com/adsense).
There are strict rules that you must comply with or your application will be rejected. It might seem that there are a lot of rules and that there is a lot of work complying with them, but most of them are commonsense.
Here are the 16 things you need to do before applying to AdSense…
1 Create an About page
Every website should have an About page. This should have information about the website owner and who creates it. It could be about the company that owns the website, or yourself if it is a personal blog or website.
- Who created the site?
- Why was the site created?
- Who is the site aimed at?
Do you need to credit anyone, such as images, design, themes, development?
2 Provide contact information
Another requirement for Adsense is a contact information. This must be easy for site visitors to find and they should not need to search for it, click through a dozen levels of menus and so on.
There should be a contact link or menu on at least the home page, and ideally on every page, that takes you straight there.
You might want to create a special Contact page that has a Contact form. There are several plugins for WordPress that enable you to easily create a Contact form. Contact Form 7 has over 1m installs for example, and is a popular choice.
It enables you to create a form on a page, a bit like the comment form at the bottom of posts, but instead of posting the comment on the page, the comment is sent to you.
A Contact form is useful, but there should be other ways of contacting you. Do not try to be anonymous or hide your identity. Google wants transparency and accountability, and people should know who they are dealing with.
Provide your email address, social media links like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Give people a name, such as your own, who they can contact.
If you are are business, then an email, telephone number and address is the best contact information you can provide.
Private individuals with a blog will not want to publish their home address and phone on the web. That’s OK, just provide all the other links – email and social.
You can combine the About page and Contact page into one. They don’t have to be separate.
By necessity they often contain legal jargon and many people would find it difficult to write one from scratch. You don’t need to.
Search the web and you will find free and paid privacy policies that you can adapt to your website.
4 Create lots of content
There is some debate about how much content you need on a website to be accepted by AdSense. Some people have been accepted with half a dozen posts, but it is much better to have more or you risk rejection.
Posts should provide some value to visitors. This means well written and comprehensive articles of at least 500 words. If you can include a few longer ones, such as 1,000 to 1,500 words then this is great.
Having 300 word posts about trivial matters that aren’t important will not get you into AdSense.
If you cannot write a few longer posts yourself, use services like Fiverr where you can get people to write articles for very little money.
Aim to have at least 20 good quality articles before applying to AdSense. The more you have, the more likely you are to be accepted. Articles must be original too, and not published elsewhere on the web or in print.
5 Use original/free images
Google may well check your images to ensure they are not copyright. All images that you use on your website or blog must be free to use, public domain, or purchased from an image library.
A common mistake that people often make is to use an image from another website and provide a credit. A credit does not mean you can use copyright images, even if those images appear on other websites. Those other sites may have asked the copyright holder for permission.
Pay for stock photos, take photos yourself, or use a reliable and trustworthy free source.
6 Avoid other advertisers, affiliates, sponsors
AdSense allows other advertisements to be displayed on the page and has no problems with sharing the space with others.
However, it is best if you do not have other advertisers when you apply. Your site will be checked and you might not be accepted if pages are already heavy with adverts.
Present a nice clean ad-free site and you are more likely to be accepted. Once you you are in AdSense then you can add other advertisers. AdSense should be your first advertiser and not your last.
7 Use a good quality design, navigation
Your website or blog must look good and be easy to navigate. The pages should have a clean design without distractions. Things like full screen welcome mats and pop-ups like ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ should be avoided.
Don’t clutter up the page with too many widgets, rollovers, pop-ups and so on. Present the content in an easily readable form. It is OK to have things in a sidebar, just keep them clear of the content area.
The navigation on your site should be easy to use so that visitors can find there way around. They need to be able to access articles, About, Contact, Privacy, and so on. Make sure you have easy to use menus and a navigation bar.
If you want to try some innovative, unique and unconventional designs, do it after getting into AdSense.
8 Avoid prohibited content
Some types of content are not acceptable to AdSense and your application will not be accepted if your site contains any of the following:
- Adult content
- Content that advocates against an individual, group, or organization
- Recreational drugs and drug-related content
- Alcohol-related content
- Tobacco-related content
- Healthcare-related content
- Hacking and cracking content
- Pages that offer compensation programs
- Misrepresentative content
- Violent content
- Weapon-related content
- Content that enables dishonest behavior
- Illegal content
9 Use a supported language
AdSense supports almost 40 languages, yet there is said to be 6,500 spoken languages in the world . If your website uses an unsupported language then you will not be accepted.
I won’t list all the supported languages, but you can probably guess the most common ones. Many European languages are supported for example, plus other popular ones from around the world.
Avoid using a language that isn’t widely used. Also avoid bad language like swear words, sexual references and so on. Keep it family friendly even if it isn’t aimed at families.
10 Fill in the application correctly
When you apply for AdSense, you will be asked to provide information such as your full name, age, address, and email address. You must be 18 or over, you must have use your full real name (Paul Smith not P. Smith), and you must include your business or home address.
Use a reputable email address. What’s that? You can get disposable email addresses that are used for signing up for sites and services and these will not be accepted. They last a few hours or days and then disappear.
Your email address does not have to be the same as your domain name, but it helps. For example, if you have www.hotspiceyfood.com then firstname.lastname@example.org is a good choice.
If you have had a Gmail account for some time, then that is fine. It might even help. Don’t sign up for Gmail one day and then AdSense the next though.
11 Get your own domain
There are places on the web where you can get a website for free and popular ones include wordpress.com and blogspot.com. A free account at wordpress.com does not allow ads to be placed on websites. In fact, WordPress will place their own ads on your site and make money from your visitors.
You must have your own domain and web server at a web hosting company. Something like www.hotspiceyfood.com or whatever you call it.
In some parts of the world you must have owned the domain name for at least 6 months. There are lots of spammers and scammers around and this is a measure employed to prevent them getting into AdSense.
Some parts of the world don’t have such requirements and you will be accepted sooner if you are a US resident with a US address with a US web host and a US website.
If you live outside the US and your web host is outside too, it might be a good idea to wait three months or more before applying.
12 Build visitor numbers
The number of people that click on adverts is tiny. It is as little as two, three or four in a thousand. This means that for adverts to be effective, they have to be shown to a lot of people.
For this reason it is only worth running ads on websites that receive a lot of visitors. If you don‘t have many visitors, you will not earn much money from AdSense and AdSense may not think it worth advertising on your site.
A site that has a lot of traffic is more likely to be accepted than one that hasn’t. You must therefore build up your website visitor numbers before applying to AdSense.
It might take two, three or even six months to build a following and gain sufficient visitors to make it worthwhile for AdSense to advertise.
There isn’t an exact figure and it is just one of many factors. A busy site is attractive to AdSense though.
Avoid dodgy ways of getting traffic, such as buying clicks or backlinks, link exchange schemes and so on. Genuine visitors from people that love your site and your content is what is required.
13 Get Google Analytics
If you have had a Google account, are a Gmail user, have an Android phone and so on, then that is good. It will help if you are a regular user of several Google services because the more Google knows about you, the better it is.
Before applying to AdSense, set up Google Analytics on your site. It is not compulsory, but it will help because Google already knows about your website.
Analytics and AdSense can be linked to provide better analysis of visitors, behaviour, ad performance and so on.
Sign up with Google Analytics and you are provided with some code. This must be inserted into the header of every web page on your site.
Doing this manually isn’t easy or recommended. There are many WordPress plugins that can insert it automatically and All-in-One SEO is a popular choice with other 1m installs. It is mainly an SEO (search engine optimisation) plugin, but it has extra features, such as support for Google Analytics.
Other content management systems like Joomla and Drupal also have plugins or add-ons that insert Google Analytics code.
14 Add a sitemap
A sitemap is a file called sitemap.xml that contains a list of every page on your website. AdSense does not require your site to have a sitemap, but it is is one of those factors that can help.
Google prefers professionally produced and maintained websites for AdSense and a sitemap is an indicator.
Search WordPress for sitemap plugins and you will find plenty to choose from, like Google XML Sitemaps, which has over 1m installs.
A plug-in is a no-brainer, but there are also web services that can create sitemaps, such as XML Sitemap Generator. Just enter your website URL and it crawls your site visiting every page it can find, and saving the URL to a sitemap.xml file. This can be downloaded when it has finished and then uploaded to your website using FTP.
Even if it is not a requirement in your country, websites can be accessed from anywhere in the world and so you must comply with the laws everywhere. Make sure you have a cookie pop-up warning.
Content management systems like WordPress and others automatically create cookies. Your site is probably creating them and using them even though you don’t have access to them yourself.
There are plugins for WordPress and other CMS that display a cookie warning, such as Cookie Notice by dFactory.
16 Delete bad comments
The comments on the pages on your website are considered to be part of the content. You are responsible for them and bad comments, such as bad language, links to sites that contain malware, spam and junk, comments against groups of people, countries or religions and so on, could cause your site to be rejected by AdSense.
Ensure the comments on your website are family friendly. Keep them clean, either by manually monitoring them or by using a third party service that automatically blocks bad comments. For example, on WordPress there is Akismet. This is often pre-installed and comes with WordPress. It takes little effort to activate.
One final tip
Don’t make outrageous claims, such as “Follow this guide to become a millionaire!” or “The one thing you need to eat to lose 10st!” Be careful what you say, back up everything with proof, and add disclaimers like the often used quote, “Stock market investments can go down as well as up.”