We all want to be rich, right? Isn’t that why you’re reading this article? You are looking for a way to maximize your web space and make money with your website. There are a ton of different ways to make money online, but one of the easiest ways to monetize your website is through Google AdSense.
What is Google AdSense?
Google AdSense is an incredibly flexible and customizable advertising method that allows advertisers to promote their products or services through Google AdWords, and for you, the website publisher, to make money with your website through Google AdSense. As a website owner, you have an excellent opportunity to make a little extra cash or even a lot of extra cash by serving up Google AdSense on your site. For those who don’t know exactly how the whole AdWords/AdSense process works, here’s a brief summary.
- Advertisers pay to have their advertisements placed in the Google AdWords network. They can specify the keywords that trigger their ads and control how much they are willing to pay for each click on their ad.
- Publishers (that’s you) place a snippet of code on your website that will serve up the ads created by the advertisers in AdWords. The publisher program is called AdSense. You can control the size of ad, the type of ad, whether you want text ads or image ads, and you can even exclude certain advertisers from placing ads on your site.
- Google does the work of analyzing your website and serving ads that are related to your content. They usually get it right, but occassionally you’ll see ads that are not relevant to your site content. This could be due to the fact that your page isn’t optimized for any particular keywords or phrases, or that Google AdWords simply does not have any advertisers bidding on the keywords that Google finds your page relevant for.
- It is in Google’s best interest to serve up the most topically-relate ads to your site. Google wants to make the most money from their advertisers, and in return you make money as the publisher of the website from a higher CTR (click-through-rate) on your AdSense ads. Google has many “checks and balances” in their AdWords program that forces advertisers to create highly relevant advertisements, keywords and landing pages. If they don’t, they will pay much higher rates when someone clicks on their ads.
The entire AdWords/AdSense program is streamlined to deliver the ads most likely to generate click throughs, and in return, you make more money online. Now that you’re familiar with the Adsense program and how it works, let’s discuss the process of creating an effective website for generating Adsense revenues.
Focus. Focus. FOCUS!
Successful AdSense websites don’t have to be complex. AdSense websites don’t have to be pretty. AdSense websites DO have to have a laser-sharp focus and know exactly what you are trying to make money from. The proceedures Google puts in place to serve relevant advertising is a good starting point in analyzing how to build your AdSense website. Remember, Google wants to make money online just as badly as you do. Probably more so since they have to answer to their stockholders.
Use AdWords Tools for AdSense Topics
Before you even start THINKING about building your site, take a few minutes (preferably hours or even days) and do some homework on what your AdSense website is going to be about. A good way to find topics that make for good AdSense websites is to sign up for an AdWords account (only costs $5) and use the tools included with AdWords to do some keyword research.
The keyword tools in AdWords can give you relevant keywords related to your topics, and also give you an idea of the advertiser competition for these keywords in AdWords. The higher the competition, the higher the AdSense payout, and the more money you can make. If you choose a topic that has little competition, the ads served in your AdSense program will be minimum bids and only make you a few cents per click. The higher the competition, the more advertisers are willing to pay per click on the search network, and that higher amount also carries into the content network, which is the AdWords component that displays your AdSense ads.
So You’ve Got a Great Topic!
Ok, you’ve done your homework and you have a website topic that has a high demand, lots of people searching for that topic in the search engines, and now you have to actually build your website. There are several options at this point. Do you want a blog? A website? Use a content management system? Each method has advantages and disadvantages.
Blogging for AdSense
Blogs are fast to implement and easy to update. I recommend using either a free WordPress blog or if you have a hosting account, check to see if your hosting company has WordPress as an installable module. Once installed, you can simply go to the WordPress Theme Viewer and choose a free theme to use on your blog. Once installed, you will need to create your categories and start posting your blog entries. If you wish to serve your AdSense ads within your post content, you can either code it into your post, or use Adman or All in One AdSense and YPN to insert your ads automatically.
A custom website is my preferred method, simply because it’s easy for me. There are plenty of free HTML editors available, but I prefer using Dreamweaver. If you have Dreamweaver, I highly recommend either SiteAssist or CSS Sculptor to very quickly generate websites out of Dreamweaver. Another great way to quickly develop AdSense sites is to go to OSWD.org and download a free website template. They currently have 2080 free web designs that you can download and change very quickly to work with AdSense.
Content Management System
Another way to quickly create AdSense websites is to use a CMS or content management system. These are database-driven websites that feature a back-end administration system, similar to how WordPress functions. A CMS saves time by creating all the content pages on the fly, and there are downloadable themes for all major CMS’s. Examples of good AdSense CMS’s are Joomla and Drupal, and an easier to use CMS is CMS Made Simple. CMS’s have a learning curve with using them, but once mastered, they allow you to very quickly create and deploy AdSense websites.
Designing your Google AdSense Website
Regardless of the type of website you choose to design, there are a couple of basic design-time things to keep in mind about the placement of Google AdSense ad blocks.
- According to Google, wider ad formats generally outperform taller ads.
- The most effective ad formats are the 336×280 large rectangle, 300×250 medium rectangle, and the 160×600 wide skyscraper. Your page layout will dictate which ad block format works the best.
- By using a combination of text-only ads with image ads, you can determine which performs best on your AdSense website.
- You can place up to three Google AdSense units per page, so include a mix of header ads, content ads and vertical sidebar ads.
- Visitors’ eyes follow a predictable path through your website page, starting from the left navigation across to the content section and down, with emphasis placed on the top center portion of the content. This is an important thing to keep in mind when placing your AdSense ads in your design. Don’t obscure them, but don’t make them so obvious that readers are immediately aware that your page is a MFA or “Made For AdSense” page. Readers have become somewhat “blind” to online advertisements, especially graphical banner ads. Being creative in the format and placement of the ads is essential in creating a balance between readability and “ad magnetism”.
Create the Perfect Fit for AdSense Ads
The most common page layout contains a left navigation sidebar with the content on the right. It’s important to create your web pages so the dimensions allow for common AdSense ad block sizes. If you have a 950 pixel wide layout, even the 728 x 90 leaderboard ad will look somewhat out of place. Make your website approximately 760-770 pixels wide, so when users with 800 x 600 screen resolutions visit, your site fits within their screen real estate. This also allows for perfect placement of the 728 leaderboard ad at the top of your site, below the logo or header area and also just above the footer.
Best AdSense Ad Placement
Your content section should be able to accomodate the 468 x 60 banner size, and your sidebar should be able to fit a 160 x 600 wide skyscraper ad. Allowing for padding between the sections will give you a perfect fit at around 770 pixels. On each content page, you will want to include either a 250 x 250 square AdSense ad or a 300 x 250 medium rectangle AdSense block. Make sure you ad is placed “above the fold” which means when a user opens your site in their browser, the AdSense ads are visible without requiring the visitor to scroll down. They will make a fast decision whether or not the article meets their search criteria, so by keeping the ads visible, you present an opportunity for a click through even if they don’t read the article.
Color Scheme and Graphics – Don’t Offend my Eyes
The color scheme and graphics on your website are as important as the content. If your visitors are greeted by an obnoxious color scheme or annoying flashing graphics, there’s a good chance they will immediately click the back button on their browser and go elsewhere. Keep offensive colors out of your website, unless the market you are targeting (such as teenage girls) are attracted by them.
If you graphics look like bad clipart from 1996, you’re better off eliminating them. There are many free image resources like stock.xchng or cheap stock photography and vector art sources like istockphoto. I personally use istockphoto for my websites, and images usually cost a buck for web-quality size. By spending a few bucks on better images and photography, your AdSense website will appear much more professional and your CTR will show a difference.
The Wrapup on Effective AdSense Websites
Once you have your prototype layout complete, just add content. DO NOT just copy and paste someone else’s articles into your website, as it’s not only illegal, but your pages will probably not show up in the search engines due to duplicate content. Create unique, original articles on your topic that you worked so hard to identify. If you don’t know much about it, do some research and you’ll be able to cobble together articles that will inform and educate, but most importantly recruit visitors from search engines looking for information on your topic.
Once your site is live in all it’s glory, you will need to do some link building and marketing to get people to visit. One way to accomplish this is to write articles for ezine article websites and include your website link in your resource information. Another method involves posting on other people’s blogs that are related in nature to your website. If your website IS a blog, by linking to other blogs in your posts, you can trackback to the original blog and their visitors can follow the link to your site. If you can find a user forum based on your topic, sign up and be a frequent poster. Many forums allow you to include links in your signature, so use these to your advantage.
Building effective AdSense websites is not difficult, but it does take some planning and research to be able to make money online. Don’t expect a windfall of profit initially, as it takes dedication and work to keep adding relevant information to your site that visitors find interesting. As your website ages, it will gain more and more traffic as other sites link in, and your AdSense revenues will increase accordingly. Good luck with your AdSense website and I hope you make a million! (if you do, please remember where you read this article!)