Over the past 16 years I’ve earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Google AdSense program, but I made mistakes in ad placement at the very beginning!
Google AdSense Program article which I first wrote back in 2008, updated in 2014 and December 2019.
When I got into the AdSense program I didn’t think it was worth much of my time, which was a big mistake in hindsight!
I signed up for the AdSense program in February 2004, according to the “Choose date range” search facility when choosing “All Time” it was the 22nd of February I was accepted and the 27th of February when I got my first AdSense ad impressions.
On the first day I received 110 impressions and made a whopping $0.08, I didn’t have a clue about increasing AdSense CTR etc…
It took until Tuesday, 30 March 2004 for my first day of making more than $1: made $2.10 that day :-)
How to NOT Make Money with AdSense
I’d not taken the AdSense program seriously as a money making opportunity and had added the AdSense ad code to a handful of not very important webpages, had few impressions and rarely made over $1 a day.
This confirmed what I thought I knew about the AdSense program, you can’t make money this way, that was until mid 2005.
By April 2005 I’d added AdSense code to a lot of my Classic Literature website pages, but because I didn’t consider AdSense important I only added one small rectangle ad right at the bottom of the sidebar menu (that was the only ad unit I tried and it was below the fold) and didn’t add AdSense to other important websites: I’d already confirmed you can’t make money with AdSense after all.
I was accidentally creating a masterclass on how NOT to make money from AdSense!
Google AdSense Heatmap
If you’ve researched the Google AdSense program you’ll have seen the click area AdSense heat map, image below.
This AdSense heatmap shows where website visitors tend to click the most on a Desktop device, the hot areas are in red/orange and the cold areas in white.
The second image you see below is roughly where you’d find my ONLY AdSense ad unit on websites that during March 2005 (1st to the 31st) were seeing ~14,000 impressions a day, but only made $7.68 a day from AdSense: that’s very low!
You see that steaming pile of poo, that’s where my only AdSense ad unit was poorly placed!
Classic literature isn’t exactly a high money content niche, but I wasn’t monetizing this traffic well at all. By believing AdSense wasn’t a good way to make money I’d shot myself in the foot, normally I do lots of research (I have science background), but this one time I did NONE!
I’d assumed AdSense was pointless BEFORE any serious research or testing!
To learn from a mistake, you first have to accept you made one!
Low AdSense Earnings Before Ad Placement Optimization
Screenshot below of AdSense revenue for the last half of March 2005 before I optimized AdSense ad placement.
You can see I wasn’t making much from AdSense for a website with around 14,000 ad impressions a day.
This could have gone on for another year of lost AdSense revenue, but I started building thin Amazon affiliate stores and as their only goal was to make money from Amazon I decided to cover them in AdSense ads as well: if 3 content AdSense ad units per page is considered covered in ads that is.
Finally Making Money With AdSense
By luck (yep, no research again) I managed to add some of the ad units in the red/orange areas of the AdSense heatmap and when my Amazon stores started pulling in thousands of visitors a day in their own right I got a very nice boost in AdSense revenue.
You can see from the screenshot above, impressions roughly tripled, but revenue increased by about 20 times!
Yes, some of this traffic was better money making, but most of it was from Amazon stores on my classic literature websites, so it wasn’t like we are comparing classic literature traffic to mortgage or insurance traffic, (those are money making AdSense keywords) closer to comparing it to general Amazon book store traffic since Amazon does sell books: better, but not 20 times better!
I’d stumbled on the fact that you can make some nice money from AdSense if you have a fair amount of traffic AND your ad units are placed in the right areas. See the heatmap for best AdSense ad placement areas.
Knowing this I optimized AdSense ad placement for all my websites (better late than never) and maximized AdSense revenue for the traffic I received.
Unfortunately as mentioned in other posts the traffic from the Amazon affiliate stores wasn’t to last and a year later I was below $50 a day.
Still $50 a day while watching TV isn’t something to complain about, so quite happy with the AdSense income.
I took it easy (working a few hours a day rather than the usual 10+) for about 9 months when I popped a disc in my back around 2008 and AdSense revenue dropped to under $40 a day. Didn’t help having a series of server disasters due low quality technical support at the places I rented dedicated servers from: see my dedicated server problems post for details.
Have got an excellent dedicated server now and am back to my normal 10+hrs of work a day which is seeing my AdSense income recover.
All in all it’s a nice way to make money with low maintenance in most cases, but by itself it’s never going to make me a millionaire. Even at $200 a day (which is possible) that’s only $73,000 a year.
What I do know is when I build anything online I add AdSense to it and place the ads in optimized areas.
Long-Term AdSense Success
I’ve been using AdSense for about 12 years (make that around 17 years in 2019) now and it’s around 9 years (14 years) since I realized there’s was money to be made with AdSense.
It’s no longer just about ad unit placement on a desktop PC, now we have to take into account the growing numbers of mobile device users: AdSense ads have to be mobile responsive.
Whatever else you do with AdSense, do NOT take risks with the AdSense account, never click your own ads for easy money, Google will eventually ban your account!