Make Money from Adsense – Without Inappropriate Ads!

My last post on making money from your website got an amazing response. As well as 30 comments on the post itself, it stimulated lengthy discussions on LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Obviously this is an important business topic – and also a spiritual one. Since helping each other earn parnasa is the goal of this blog, I’ve decided to continue with a series of posts on increasing our earnings and improving our bottom line!
 

Google Adsense is probably the easiest way to make money from a website. All you need is some traffic and the earnings start to mount all by themselves.

You don’t need products or customer service, you don’t have to waste time looking for advertisers or testing affiliate programs, you don’t  need to keep up with the latest selling trends. All you need to do is drive traffic, and that’s what you are good at, right? (And if you are not good at that, don’t worry. You’ll get there with persistence. So this post is for you too!)

Israeli web marketing guru Yigal Pines, who has made a fortune from Adwords and Affiliate Marketing, recently wrote a post called “7 Reasons Why Adsense is Not Such a Bad Idea After All.” He reports that he just monetized a website with Adsense for the first time. While the site is still young and not yet earning much, he cannot get over how easy it is to earn money with Adsense, compared to the hard work of selling!

How Much Can You Earn from Adsense?

This is an important question for us all. Really, it depends on how much traffic you’re getting. You need a steady flow of over a thousand unique daily visitors to make more than a couple hundred bucks a month. The very general rule of thumb is that your average unique daily visitor count should approach your monthly Dollar earnings. Of course, this is an average estimate and varies significantly for different niche markets. On my sites, I earn a bit less than this rate. The way you place and optimize your Adsense will have an impact on your earnings, so I discuss tips for increasing your earnings below.

In any case, I’m sure that there are many readers of this blog that would like to earn a monthly check that approaches the number of their average unique daily visitor count. So Adsense seems like a monetization option that we must all explore seriously!

And no – Google has not hired me as a saleslady. In fact, I have a big problem with Adsense, which many readers of this blog share.

Inappropriate Ads in Adsense

My problem is that Adsense serves ads that are inappropriate for my sites. For example, I run a modest fashion magazine, and so all the image ads featuring fashionably dressed ladies kinda ruins the atmosphere. In addition, whenever I discuss women’s issues, I’m likely to get ads for interesting dating sites that might turn off my readers. When we talk recipes, we get ads for non-kosher foods.

The problem of inappropriate ads on Adsense exists in all markets. Most Adsense publishers and their audience find that Adsense sometimes serves ads that are completely irrelevant, if not contrary to the spirit of their site concept. On the Adsense forum, I read of one frustrated webmaster who runs a site for men who are bald and proud of it. Unfortunately, Google’s clever robots regularly serve ads related to hair replacement treatments that don’t gel well with his “proud baldy” message.

I have discussed this problem with many webmasters, most recently Rabbi Jack Kalla, Director of Development at Aish.com. Aish.com is a massively successful website in the Jewish niche with over 2 million pageviews per month. With all that great content, professional viral videos and cutting-edge technology, Aish.com is obviously not a cheap site to run. It attempts to pay its way with banner ads, memberships and other monetization options. It would like to use Adsense and with that kind of traffic, it’s a good idea. The problem is that Aish.com is naturally very selective about the kinds of ads it wants to host.

Let’s look at some possible solutions:

Blocking Sensitive Categories in Adsense

Adsense gives you a selection of sub-categories that could be considered “sensitive” and you can select these under the “Allow and Block Ads” tab. See the image below:

blocking sensitive categories

For some reason, not everyone will have this list of sub-categories within their Adsense interface. I don’t know why that it. I have written to Google about this problem so maybe one day it will be explained. (Note: all these screenshots are taken in the new Adsense interface. If you are using the old interface, things look different.)

Blocking Image Ads in Adsense

If you don’t want to take any risks with image ads, you can choose text ads only, like in the image below

Activate the Adsense Ad Review Center

Adsense gives you the option to review all ads that will appear 24 hours in advance. You can activate this option by clicking as shown in the screenshot below and following the instructions. It takes about a week to activate. You can learn more about the Ad Review Center here. This seems like a good options for ultimate control, but obviously it requires some manpower to regularly review the ads.

adsense ad review center

So basically, there is no need to rule out Adsense just because you are concerned about inappropriate ads. There are ways to work with it. In general, it’s best to minimize your blocking settings to the essentials. As you block more ads, the average cost-per-click will fall, since there is less competition from advertisers who want to appear on your page.

Making More Money from Adsense

Here are some tips to increase your Adsense earnings:

  • Position ads under titles and subtitles – they are more noticeable there
  • Adjust the colors so that the ads fit into your site’s color scheme.  In general, the more that the ads appear to be a part of your site, the higher your click-thru rate.
  • If you don’t want Adsense on your recent articles that are currently getting mileage on social media , you can still put it on your popular “evergreen” posts that get a lot of traffic from search engines. You can earn a lot by heavily Adsensing these “back-door” pages, even if the “front-door” pages are completely free of Adsense.
  • Assuming there’s money in your niche (think big spending), you’ve created high quality content (that visitors like and keep coming back to), AND you’ve done a good job of strategically sprinkling high cost-per-click key words (easy to check this on the Adwords keyword tool), your earnings could potentially rise much higher
I want to thank Ohad Flinker from Israel-Travel-Secrets.com for sharing his knowledge of Adsense and helping me write this post.
And now… it’s your turn!
Tell us your tips and experiences for screening Adsense and increasing Adsense earnings.
PS. This is the first in a series of posts about making more money online (with a soul) – so if that’s what you want to do, subscribe now
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Comments

  1. 1. You don’t mention the option to block individual URLs, although this is after the fact. Be sure not to click on the ad as this is against Google’s Terms of Service.
    2. I write about breastfeeding and don’t want formula ads. One blogger keeps a list of formula manufacturers from all countries who use Google Ads. I was able to cut and paste the list into the “my blocked ads” category.
    3. Apparently I’m one of those who can’t see the Sensitive Categories option. I sent feedback to Google as well.
    Thanks for this thought-provoking post!
    -Hannah

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Thanks Hannah. Good point about blocking individual URLs. This is also good to prevent your competitors from advertising on your site!

    [Reply]

  2. The other point I wanted to make is that it’s really hard to be aware of what people from other countries are seeing, although you might not always care.

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  3. Just wanted to say I’m impressed with the amount of effort that you put in to try and find solutions to these issues, to help all those who read your posts. Thanks, Naomi!

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  4. I read your previous posting and this one, they were both very informative and useful. We are now considering using adsense as well. Thank you!

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  5. One question for you, Naomi, and other readers here – I know I find Adsense to be a turn-off when I’m a site visitor. The moment I see it, i view the site as a “lower-quality” site. Am I unique in this and most others don’t have that reaction, or do you feel the same, but you see the money to be made by Adsense as more valuable than the visitors’ impressions of your site?
    Just curious. If it’s just me, I might consider using or recommending Adsense in the future. I just currently feel like it would be degrading the site and my/my client’s content, etc.

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    you have a point. but i think that if you don’t overdo it and your content really is good quality then it’s ok. for example, don’t use it on the homepage. Also take into account what i said in the post about not using it on recent posts, but rather adding it later.
    If your goal as a site is for visitors to perform a specific action other than to just read and like you, then obviously adsense might not be a good idea. For example, Adsense on a e-commerce site might cause you to lose your potential customers. On the other hand, if your goal is to make money, you do whatever works best. Even macys.com uses Adsense! obviously they have figured out that it’s worth it for them!

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  6. If your talking about Jewish related sites you need to be realistic about the potential of adsense revenue. Unless your chabad.org or aish.com your traffic is not going to be at a level necessay to really make a living off adsense. The real money always was and always will be in direct sales. You mentioned hard work in direct sales but the truth is if you have the right traffic and the right partner who can close on your leads it can be just as easy as adsense but much more lucrative.

    [Reply]

    Jewish Marketing Reply:

    On the other hand if you cater to a larger market adsense can be a good fill for unsold avdertising spots. Otherwise what you would need is a site which offers content related to a high paying keyword (i.e. a blog about real estate foreclosures) with a tremendous amount of traffic so you can get a deal with Google to display the high paying ads.

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    I hope this article makes it pretty clear that your adsense earnings are limited by your traffic and your niche. On the other hand, so are your earnings from direct advertisers. You need an awful lot of traffic to hold onto direct advertisers because you have to deliver them enough quality clicks that they will come back. In the meantime, you can make some money from Adsense. It is also possible to combine the two, like you said.
    You seem to know a lot about this topic. are you interested in doing a guest post on finding advertisers for websites?

    [Reply]

  7. Thanks for taking the time to explain this, Naomi. I have been using adSense for a few months now and I find that the income slowly increases as my readers increase. I have 2 major problems with it – the same as everyone else’s. First, I find that not as many people will click because the ads are not so relevant to my niche target market: frum Jews. Second, I can’t get the Ad Review Center to work. I’ve put in my filters and clicked for Ad Review to be turned on but nothing happens. I guess I should check out the AdSense support rooms but your blog is much more user friendly : ) Does anyone here have any suggestions on getting it to actually work?

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    I just tried to activate it the other day. I’ll let you know when I get a response.

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  8. I was wondering the same thing as Aviva. My site culinarykosher.com is doing B”H very well. I had thought about doing Adsense but aside from having ads on the site that you really dont want I was afraid that it would be a turn off for many of the users I have. I still have not come to any definite conclusion about it, so I have not gone the Adsense route. How would one know if the money gained from Adsense is worth “annoying” or making your site “cheapy” (if that is what it actually does, I am not sure).

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Hi Yael
    If a site has great content, people don’t think it’s cheap, even if it’s stuffed with ads. Not that I’m recommending over-stuffing a site with ads :)
    And your site has great content that your visitors obviously love…
    But maybe my perception is different than the average person because I am a web marketer…

    [Reply]

  9. Excellent post Naomi! Even if I do say so myself :) Thanks for giving me credit as well. Here’s what I would add:

    1. Unless you’re getting several thousand unique daily visitors, Adsense will not generate significant income (i.e. money that can support a family). It is useful to get a benchmark for what your site is worth with minimum effort. Then you can gradually grow by adding more targeted and lucrative monetization channels (affiliate, banner display / email advertising, and referral deals)

    2. On average, monthly Adsense $US income across worldwide publishers approaches your average unique daily visitor count. The more obvious the path to monetization and depending on your site’s audience profile, you could do much better or worse – do the math for your site :)

    The way I see it, if you’re getting thousands of unique daily visitors and aren’t monetizing methodically, Adsense could be the ideal solution. Once you reach that level of credibility, I wouldn’t worry about turning visitors off. If they’re that upset and love the site, believe me they’ll let you know. Remember, this is the Internet and a passionate audience will always include itself in the conversation.

    What a pleasure to read such an intelligent exchange Naomi – looking forward to more !

    Be-Hatzlacha !
    Ohad

    [Reply]

    Naomi Reply:

    Thanks Ohad.
    I think we are all waiting for you to explain what you mean by “monetizing methodically.”
    sounds fascinating!

    [Reply]

    Ohad Reply:

    This would be a whole different post, but here’s a brief answer:

    A website with solid targeted traffic is like a magazine. Your loyal visitors access your content and come to think of you as an authority. When you present them with a buying opportunity (ad, affiliate link, etc), some of them will click and buy. How much, when, and what they prefer buying, is up to you to figure out. That’s why you need to compare Adsense blocks with affiliate offers, see what the clickthrough rate is, and test what the resulting conversion rate is. Over time, this data builds up to present a picture of the online clicking and buying habits of your audience. This is worth money to you and potential advertisers. This is an entire area of expertise in and of itself, so let’s follow up in the future !

    Amazing what you can learn from even a small hobbyist website :)
    Ohad

    [Reply]

  10. Ohad, thanks so much for piping in here. It is an entire area of expertise in and of itself. One that I was fascinated by when I started learning about it. That’s why I started my website, The Kosher Shopaholic, to really learn hands on this new science. And hey, if I can actually bring in a significant income in the process – great! The key is to really be a respected authority that people will be comfortable clicking on your recommended links. The adsense, in my case, is for people who ended up on my site by accident and don’t really need or want to be there – then I make some money when they leave since they’ll be leaving anyways! So when that’s the case, the type of ads aren’t that important as long as they’re not blatatently inappropriate (like pork or naked women!). Other than that, I prefer that when someone comes to my website they read my content, become loyal followers and click on my affiliate links. LIke a magazine, it takes time and persistance and a lot of constant good content to built this up to a level that makes money. I know someone in the Kosher niche who is making about $4,000 a month through this method. She’s been doing it for almost 3 years and has built a loyal following and authority. For the rest of us, its full time work without much income for a few years until its built up. I also think that the Kosher, Jewish Orthodox niche market are late adapters meaning that they are slower to be comfortable using websites as magazines and to actually make purchases. As they start to adapt, we’ll be there for them! .

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