Google Adsense Tutorial [with PDF]

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Different layouts of website with multiple ad spaces

This is the only article along with a free Google Adsense PDF Ebook download that you will ever need to read to answer all your questions related to making money by showing ads on your website through adsense. The article covers everything starting from basic questions related to AdSense to step by step process of using all the features of adsense and how you can improve your adsense earning. As I said, this is a complete guide - all things adsense

 

Let’s get right into it.

 

Who is an Advertiser

  • An Advertiser is any company or individual who is willing to pay a price for advertising their product or service over the internet.

Who is a Publisher

  • A publisher is any website, app or an online portal who publishes content or provides a service to its clients or website visitors or app users.
  • Since they have a community of people using their services, Advertisers approach them to advertise their products or services to the Publisher’s audience.

What is an Ad Network

  • An Ad network is basically a company that is a middleman between Advertisers and Publishers.
  • Even in the conventional context of Advertising, there are TV ad networks, Radio ad networks and Print ad networks. With the display advertising context, we are talking about the "online ad network”.
  • Any Ad network has the same job to do - to connect advertisers to publishers.
  • Online Ad networks have an inventory of ads that advertisers provide to them in the form of text banners, image, or videos (called creatives), and Ad networks find the most appropriate set of publishers to push these creatives to the Publisher’s website or app.

What is Google AdSense

  • Google AdSense is one of ad networks that is used by Publishers to earn money by showing ads on their website.
  • Google Ads is another platform that is used by Advertisers to submit their ads and pay based on the bid type they prefer.

How to show ads on website

Setting up Google AdSense

  1. Go to the Adsense page and Signup
  2. Type - Select Business if you are a Business, or else select “Individual”
  3. Fill in your address details (You will receive a PIN from google on this address so make sure it is correct).
  4. Wait. Once you get approved, you will get an email notification and you’re then all set to start showing ads.

 

What are Auto Ads in Google AdSense?

Auto Ads in Google Adsense

  • Once your account has been approved, you have the option to simply copy a code and paste it in all the pages where you want to show ads.
  • What Auto Ads does is it does not require you to tell which area on the website the ad should be served. AdSense uses its own intelligence to analyse your site and shows ads on empty spaces and spaces where it thinks you will generate the most revenue.
  • Setting up Auto Ads is extremely simple:

 

  1. From left Navigation, go to Ads > Auto Ads
  2. Click on “SETUP ADS”.
  3. Copy the code and Paste it to every page of your website where you want to show ads. Voila! Done!

Generally, every website has a template file which contains the <head></head> tags and it is always loaded throughout the website.

If that is your case, all you need to do is just paste the code in between these Head tags in your template file.

 

If you are not convinced with the performance of Auto Ads, you can take matters into your own hands by using something called Ad Units.

 

How are ads selected to be displayed on your website

When you have set up Google AdSense on your website, you start seeing ads on your website. How are these ads selected for your website?

How Advertisers target their ads to your website?

 

For every ad that is displayed on your website, there will be one of the following reasons why it ended up showing on your website. This is called Targeting types in your AdSense performance reports.

 

  • Contextual, the ad is contextually related to your page content.
  • Placement, advertisers explicitly targeted their ads to your website by selecting one of your Custom Channels.
  • Personalized, Google tracks user behavior on the internet and knows the interests of the user. If they have this information, then the ad displayed is said to be personalized for the user. For example, if your user was searching for a product to buy online, the user may see a related product page of Amazon as an ad, provided amazon is advertising it.
  • Run of Network, when advertisers want to place their ad on all the sites on Google AdSense network irrespective of any targeting. Advertisers may choose this option when they don’t have a specific target audience for their product in mind.
  • None, no targeting used

 

What are Ad Units in Google AdSense

what are ad units in google adsense - Ad spaces on the website

  • On your website, you have several empty white spaces on the left and/or right, and some space in between the article body. If you don’t have them and you want ad revenue, you will create them.

  • Every ad space on your website is an Ad Unit. 
  • From my sloppy attempt to paint a webpage in the image above, you can see we have 5 Ad spaces on our webpage. These 5 spaces can be throughout your website, and you may also have more or less ad spaces in different pages of your website.
  • Every ad space translates into an Ad Unit on Google Adsense. 
  • In HTML terms, these ad spaces on your website are nothing but <div></div> tags.

Creating Ad Units in AdSense for the ad spaces on your website

  • With the above example, we will create 5 Ad Units on Google AdSense and tell AdSense the properties of each ad space.
  • As you can notice, every ad unit has a different size. The wide space that you see in top centre is called Leaderboard. The tall ad spaces on left and right are called Skyscrapers. You get the idea.
  • Creating an Ad Unit is very simple in AdSense. Lets say we start with creating an ad unit for the Leaderboard so that space starts receiving ads.

 

  1. From the left Navigation, go to Ads>Ad Units
  2. Click on + New ad unit
  3. Select the type of ads you want to show in this ad unit. The most common is Text and Display.
  4. Name - give it a name that you can recognize. We’ll say “Leaderboard” for this example.
  5. Ad Size - Recommended is “Responsive”. However, you can go custom size and put exact dimensions (Not recommended as it limits the ads and only shows ads that exactly fit that dimension).
  6. Ad Type - Select the type of Ads you want to show
    1. Text ads only - Only show ads that are textual, with a title, description and URL.
    2. Display ads only - Show only those ads that have images
    3. Text and Display - Show both types of Ads (Recommended, so you do not limit advertisers and your revenue).
    4. Text Ad style - The native style of text based ads that will show up on your website are just black and white and look very unprofessional. This option lets you choose Text, Background and URL colors so you can match it with your Website theme. Neat.
    5. Click on Save and get code
    6. Copy the code and paste it on your website HTML. In this specific example, you will paste it in between the <div></div> of your Leaderboard ad space

Custom Channels in Google AdSense

Custom channels in Google Adsense - Grouping of ad units

What are Custom Channels in Google Adsense?

 

Custom channels serve two purposes which are very much in contrast with each one. One purpose is to help you in analyzing your performance reports and the other benefit of using this is to give advertisers more control over their ad placement on your website.

 

Reporting

 

  • You may have multiple ad units throughout your website and there might be a relation between ad units. Custom Channels can help you organize Ad Units.
  • For example, 
    • Location of ads: all the Leaderboards throughout your website
    • all the ads on the left side of a particular page.
    • Above the fold ads, Below the fold ads
    • Grouped by Sizes
    • Grouped by colors; blue ads versus read ads 
    • Page Topics - Articles about sports versus music
  • Custom Channels allow you to group your ad units or in other words, organize your Ad units into folder(s) where each folder has multiple ad units within. This can help you analyze the performance of a set of ad units together.
  • One Custom Channel = one or more Ad Units grouped together.
  • The name “Custom Channel” is not really an appropriate name. Google should really call this “Ad Unit Folders”. Do you agree?

 

(Optional) Allowing advertisers to select your Custom Channel to put their ads:

 

  • How does google AdSense decide which advertiser ad will be placed on which ad unit of your website? Mostly random based on AdSense capabilities of assessing what will give most value to you and the advertiser.
  • Once you have a Custom Channel created, you have the option to make this channel “targetable” which basically means the ad units that you have grouped together will become public and visible to Advertisers.
  • What can the advertisers do with your Custom Channel? When they submit an ad to an ad network, they can actually select this custom channel of your website to specifically put their ads only on the selected channel. This means no more random placements of ads into your ad units by Google. However, if no one selected your custom channel, the ads shown will still be random.
  • This is said to be one of the ways to increase your ad revenue; by creating custom channels and giving an option to advertisers to explicitly choose your ad unit spaces.

How to set up a Custom Channel in Google AdSense?

 

As stated earlier, one of the uses of Custom Channel in AdSense is that you can group your Ad Units together in ways that make sense to you for analyzing your Performance reports.

 

Follow these steps to Create a Custom Channel:

 

  1. Login to Google AdSense and go to Ads > Custom Channels
  2. Click on + New Custom Channels
  3. Fill the form:
    1. Name - Give your custom channel a name that clearly states what this group of ad units are.
    2. Ad Units - Click on add to add the ad units to this channel (folder). You can also add just one ad unit if that is your requirement.
    3. Targeting - This is the option that serves the second purpose. Check this option if you want to allow Advertisers to bid on your Custom Channel. 
    4. If you decide to make this channel targetable, then you will be asked to fill in some more information about this channel of yours, like describing what this channel of ad units are and why your potential advertisers should bid for this channel. Advertisers can see these details.

 

Best ways to group your Ad Units into Custom Channels

  • Create custom channels by the hierarchy of your website. For Example:
    • Homepage
    • Sports
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Entertainment
  • Each of these pages will have Ad Units. In order to group your Ad Units, the best way is to group them by location : Above the Fold, Below the Fold, Footer
  • An Example Custom Channel would be
    • 2 Ad Units of Sports Page that are Above the fold created as one channel so your advertisers who provide products and services in the Sports industry can choose this custom channel.
  • This way you can increase competition between advertisers for your higher value spaces.
  • You can create upto 500 such Custom Channels for advertisers and for yourself to help you in analyzing your performance reports.
  • One Ad unit can be a part of upto 5 Custom Channels.

What are Blocking controls in Google AdSense

  • On your website, you see that AdSense places ads that are from different types of business like Real Estate, Apparel, Health, Jobs etc. 
  • By default, your website gets ads from all these different types of categories of businesses. One industry may pay you more than the other, and depending on the content of your website, a particular set of business categories might be more profitable for you than the other. 
  • Using the Blocking Controls, you can block a set of General or Sensitive Categories maybe because you don’t want to show such ads to your users or you may think avoiding such ads will improve your revenue.

How to understand Reports in Google AdSense to track and improve Performance

 

Before you start reading this section, if you are not clearly aware of metrics like CPC,CPM, CPE, Impressions RPM and Page RPM, read this first.

 

Optimize AdSense to make more money

  • When you are running ads on your website, you need to make sure that you are getting the value that you deserve.
  • If you have not optimized your AdSense, very likely whatever you are earning is not actually the maximum potential of what you could actually earn. That’s when optimizing your Ads comes into place. 
  • There are several ways to optimize your Ads. And you should try all of them. Here we go:

 

  1. Create a Custom Channel and make it Targetable

 

Targetable Custom channels allows your advertisers to explicitly choose the ad spaces they like on your website and hence, such an offer by you to advertisers is expected to gain your higher bids on your ad spaces and therefore, more CPC and RPM.

 

  1. Experiments

 

  • Ever wondered what would be the result if you blocked certain types of categories of ads from your website versus if you kept them active? What if you changed your settings to only show Animated display ads and blocked the rest? 
  • You can run such Experiments on your live traffic. Experiments help you in making the decisions on what settings within Google Adsense will get you the most revenue. 
  • When you create an experiment, you provide a setting that is a variation to your default settings. For example, if you are displaying ads that are related to Real Estate,in your experiment you can specify to block Real Estate ads.
  • Once your experiment is created, you now have two settings. Taking the above example, what AdSense will do is it will show Real Estate ads to some of your visitors, and it will not show the Real Estate related ads to the rest.
  • Over time, it will collect enough information for you so you know if your current settings are better, or your variation is better. Once the experiment is complete, Google will notify you of the results and you can choose a winner.
  • Once you choose a winner, the selected settings are applied to your account.
  • Experiments help you make informed decisions on your ad settings.

Blocking Controls Experiments

  • You can create an experiment related to types of ads being displayed, and block a set of General or Sensitive Categories to see if that helps in increasing your Ad Revenue.
  • Ad Serving - You can also create an experiment of blocking ads based on Personalization, or by blocking all Text Ads or certain types of Display Ads.

To create a Blocking Controls Experiment, follow these steps:

  1. From the left navigation menu, select Optimization > Experiments
  2. Select Blocking Controls
  3. Fill the details
    1. Name - Give your Experiment a name
    2. Experiment Settings - Select from General/Sensitive Ad Categories and/or Ad Serving
    3. Click Add to add a variation to experiment on.
    4. Automatically choose a winner? Uncheck this option if you don’t want AdSense to automatically apply the settings and let you decide once the winner is declared.
    5. Click on Create.

Google Adsense Experiments screenshot - experiment still running

Ad Balance setting and Experiments in Google AdSense

  • Apart from Ad Revenue, you will very likely be monetizing through your website by other means like Affiliate Marketing, Lead Generation or selling your own products or services.
  • Due to ads affecting the User Experience, showing ads may have a drop in your other revenue sources (although not always necessary, since most people are now used to ads on websites).
  • To maintain a balance between User Experience and your Ad Earnings can be tricky. 
  • Ad Balance settings in Google AdSense attempts to address this by allowing you to limit the number of ads displayed on your website without affecting your ad revenue much.
  • A big chunk of ads that are displayed on the website do not contribute much to your overall revenue. AdSense can eliminate those ads and only show your users the most highly paid ads that earn you the most money.
  • By Default, 100% of the potential ads that can be displayed on your website, are displayed. This is called the ad fill rate. If you modify your ad fill rate to 70%, AdSense will fill your ad units 70% of the time with highest paying ads only.
  • It also displays how much affect your ad fill rate has on your estimated earnings. Do not rely on this number if you just set up your google account, if you don’t have enough traffic or enough data; as this number might not be accurate in such cases.

Ad balance settings in Google Adsense Experiments

Follow these steps to create an Ad Balance Experiment:

  1. From the left navigation menu, select Optimization>Experiments
  2. Select Ad Balance
  3. Move the slider to select your ad fill rate.
  4. Automatically choose a winner? Uncheck this option if you don’t want AdSense to automatically apply the settings and let you decide once the winner is declared.
  5. Click on Create.


 

  1. Improve Viewability of your Ad spaces

  • In order for you to generate revenue through displaying ads, those ads need to first be viewable so they can be seen and clicked by your visitors. Your Above the fold ads have the most viewability and most likely to be seen and clicked, while below the fold ad spaces tend to have the least viewability.
  • You may have multiple ad spaces on a page. But how many ad spaces are actually viewable by an average visitor to your site?
  • For example, if you have an ad space on your website which is below the fold (BTF), this means that the visitor to that page should scroll the page in order to see that ad. So out of all the visitors that are coming to this page, how many are scrolling so they actually see the ad that was loaded? You can improve your earnings by improving the viewability of your Ad Units, because advertisers want their ads to be displayed in the most “viewable” spaces of your webpage.
  • If at least 50% of the ad is seen by a visitor for at least 1 second, the ad is said to be viewable and it will be counted as a viewable ad impression. So for ad to be considered as a viewable impression, your visitor has to
    • See at least 50% of your ad space
    • Pause or scroll slowly enough so that the ad is visible for 1 second. Scrolling fast does not count as a viewable ad impression
    • Ad must be rendered successfully when the user navigates to it.

Ads Viewability in Google Adsense

Ads viewability in Adsense - Display Ads - 50% viewable, Video Ads - video plays for 2 seconds and Video 50% viewable on screen.

 

Check out this great demo by Google to understand the concept of viewability of your ad spaces in action.

 

To increase Viewability of your ads, follow the steps below:

  1. Shortlist Ad Units with low Viewability

First shortlist the ads that have very low viewability. 

  1. You can find that out through your AdSense Performance Reports. Go to Reports>Ad Units and see the column in the table titled “Active View Viewable”. 
  2. For example, If the value of Active View Viewable for one of your ad units is 4%, this means that out of all of your visitors that come to this page, only 4% of them can actually see this ad.
  3. Consider Ad placements to be Above the Fold 

Consider having ad space at the bottom of the screen, just right above the fold.

Above the fold ad space explained in this graphic image. Above the fold ad units spaces lead have the highest viewability among other ad unites.

  1. Ad size matters:

Ad size matters in viewability of your ads. Vertical ads (those “skyscrapers”) tend to have a high viewability because they stay on the page for long as the user is scrolling down. However, you may see a low viewability on such ad units when your users are just not scrolling that much on your site. 

  1. Optimize your ad spaces for all screen sizes.

Do not forget your mobile users. The size and positions you are changing in order to improve your ad viewability on a desktop screen size should also reflect on your mobile and tablet screen size visitors. Once you are at it, make sure to work for all the screen sizes as what you see Above the fold on desktop, could actually be below the fold for a smaller screen size. 

 

  1. Ad Placements with Content

  • For Above the Fold (ATF) ad placements, your ad spaces should be in between the most engaging content of you page so your ad viewability is guaranteed.
  • For Below the Fold (BTF) ad placements, offer engaging content in the ABT content so users are engaged to see what content you have BTF and they scroll down. Consider placing ads on the left and right spaces rather than in the middle. Placing ads in an area away from the main content in BTF provides an unobstructed view of your content increasing the chances of the user scrolling all the way down till the end of your page. 
  1. PageSpeed

Are the ads actually loaded when the visitors come to your page? Make sure your page speed is good enough to load the ads quickly so the user does not scroll past it quickly while the ad is still being loaded.

  1. Choosing a premium ad network

 

Google AdSense is nice when you are just starting out blogging and getting just a few hundred users a month. You can go ahead and set up Google AdSense to serve ads when you just have very few visitors coming in (no other ad network will accept you at this stage). It is nice to get you into the mode of getting deeper into CPC,CPM and RPMs jargons and getting used to them.

 

Once you start hitting 10,000 sessions a month, it's time to get rid of Google AdSense to make the money you deserve. Google AdSense gives you the worst RPMs there are in the market. You could earn anywhere about $2 to 7$ for a 1000 Pageviews. This is peanuts. That is why you will get rid of it once you have enough consistent visitors coming in every month. 

Google AdSense alternatives

Almost any other alternative to AdSense will be beneficial for you. AdSense just does not pay well at all.

 

  • Ezoic - Ezoic is actually an AI technology (not an ad network) which has partnered with AdExchange and many other ad networks to show the highest value ads on your website. Accepts 10,000 visitors per month. These folks coined the term “EPMV” which is a really cool way to measure ad revenue.
  • AdThrive - If you have a 100,000 Pageviews per month, go for AdThrive. They have the highest RPMs in the industry. 
  • Mediavine - Biggest competition to AdThrive and they also deliver decent RPMs.
  • Microsoft Advertising
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