Pitfalls of a Newbie – What about Google Adsense?

google10 Pitfalls of a Newbie   What about Google Adsense?
Steve Castle asked:

Last month I submitted an application to Google to be considered for their AdSense program. After confirming my e-mail address, almost immediately I was invited to place ads on my website. Within hours I began to accumulate some data on pageviews and click-throughs and could see what my month-to-date total was. I was impressed.

The JavaScript Code When your website is approved, you’ll receive your own publisher number and the appropriate JavaScript code to paste onto your webpages. When your page is displayed, here’s the process that Google probably goes through in showing the ads:

1. A visitor’s web browser requests a page on your site. 2. This activates the JavaScript code on the page, sending the URL of the requested webpage to Google’s database. 3. Google looks up in its database the most prominent keywords or keyphrases for that webpage. 4. Then Google searches for the highest paying ads that match these keywords 5. Google places the appropriate ads on your webpage for your visitor to see — all in seconds. Pretty nifty.

How Much Does Google AdSense Pay? As a publisher, you share in the revenue that Google receives from its PPC ads. Google, however, hasn’t announced a formula for sharing revenue with publishers in its Terms and Conditions document. Google’s audacity to ask publishers to enter into a blind agreement is one measure of publishers’ hunger for advertising dollars — whatever dollars — and an indication of the trust Google experiences in today’s marketplace. So what is the revenue split? We aren’t told, though the actual amounts are proportional to the market value of keywords that describe your content. This gives me some idea of possible gross revenue for my site. I am not at liberty to disclose the average click-through rate and average PPC payment per click on my site, though that information is made available to me daily and cumulatively.

In talking to well-known marketers, I hear guesses of a publisher’s share ranging from 25% to 60%. For all we know Google could be striking different deals with different sites, especially those over 20 million pageviews per month that have greater clout in the marketplace. I would guess the publisher’s share to be as much as 50% of the gross PPC revenue — though I could be way off. None of us has enough information to make an accurate judgment and Google isn’t talking.

What the Godfather gives, we bow and accept gratefully without any questions for fear he might put out a contract on our websites. Here are the factors that contribute to the amount of money you can make on your site:

1. PPC value of the predominant keywords on your website. “Life insurance” for example, would be high. “Fish tank filters” would be low. 2. Amount of traffic you generate to your web pages. 3. Prominence of the Google ads 4. Click-through rate for the ads that appear. 5. The unknown revenue share that Google is paying.

Business-focused sites will do very well with Google AdSense, but information sites that don’t contain high-paying keywords won’t receive nearly as much.

Will They Accept My Site? Google AdSense tells us that the following sites are not acceptable: sites with excessive profanity; hate, violence, racial intolerance, or advocate against any individual, group, or organization; hacking/cracking content; drugs and drug paraphernalia; pornography; gambling or casino-related; content; incentives of any kind for users to click on ads; excessive advertising; other content-targeted and/or text-based ads on the pages displaying AdWords ads; pop-ups that interfere with site navigation or are for downloads; and ads that mimic AdWords ads or appear to be associated with AdWords ads on your site. Google says it will monitor sites that are showing their ads and suspend sites that don’t abide by their rules.

Does a person from Google look at a site before deciding to accept it into the program? If it’s a new site with little traffic, a human surely views the site. Don’t submit a site that isn’t ready for prime time, has “under construction” signs, or looks tacky. It’s a lot easier to get your site ready first, than try to convince Google to re-examine a rejected site. On the other hand, if your site has lots of incoming links and is generously spidered by Google already, you might receive approval within minutes after confirming your e-mail address. Once you are approved, you can login and get HTML to paste into your webpages.

The Automatic Ad Agency If you’ve ever worked with ad agencies or tried to solicit individual advertisers to place ads on your site, then Google AdSense will feel like a breath of fresh air. Google handles the entire relationship with advertisers. There are no run dates for publishers to schedule, no banners to install, no invoicing, no reporting. Just apply, paste in the JavaScript code, and Google’s “automatic advertising agency” works for you day and night finding willing advertisers, taking orders, and matching appropriate advertisers with your site.

Problems for Publishers That doesn’t mean, however, that Google AdSense is problem-free. As I mentioned above, Google’s unwillingness to specify revenue share percentages doesn’t bode well. Sure, Google is just feeling its way in uncharted territory and has to stay profitable when the inevitable competition arises. I don’t think publishers should get too confident in Google’s current largesse. What Google gives, Google can take away — either as a result of economic squeezes or greed. A more mundane problem is finding inappropriate ads appearing on your webpages. Fortunately, this is much easier to fix. You can filter out any ads you find from competitors or that you find distasteful. (I had to exclude some ads for cheapo e-mail addresses to spam with.) Just list the advertiser’s domain name under Advanced Options | Site Filter List.

What do you do when the ad just doesn’t seem to correspond to the content on your webpage? Adding the appropriate keywords or keyphrases to the title tag, Meta description tag, and headlines should help Google do a better job of matching ads with your content.

Problems for Advertisers Advertisers who use Google AdWords have the choice of limiting their ad to show only on the Google search engine, but you can choose whether campaigns also appear on the network of search sites, the network of content sites, or both. Google AdSense on content sites gives advertisers a new opportunity. Previously, their revenues were limited by the click-throughs that could be generated on Google’s search engine and search partner sites. Now the pool of appropriate content sites is greatly widened, offering greater traffic and more sales. But their is a price for this greatly increased ad coverage — potentially lower responsiveness for the same cost per click. When people use a search engine, they are looking for answers or solutions to click on. But when they are reading the text of a content site, they aren’t in the same searching, clicking mode. They’ve already found what they were searching for and are now trying to absorb it. This will affect the click-through rate, but also the likelihood that these users will complete a transaction.

Publishers are rejoicing today. But what if three months from now advertisers come to the conclusion that content sites are less responsive and routinely exclude them from their advertising coverage? Or refuse to pay the same prices for content sites that they do for search engine exposure? It’s too soon to tell.

Implications of Google AdSense One thing is certain: Google AdSense is changing the way websites are being monetized. AdSense “rewards you for creating sites rich in high-quality, focused content … the sort of sites that make the Net a better place.” Google is going to grab a whole lot of business away from those who try to ‘make crime pay’ — no need for nasty tricks, useless marketing gambits, in-your-face ads, etc.

Instead, Google is rewarding those who ‘make grime pay’” — that is, those willing to do the hard work to produce quality, focused content. Thought for today: Should you apply to put Google AdSense on your website? If your site seems appropriate, yes, by all means do so. Google AdSense represents a significant opportunity for content publishers to monetize their content. And so long as this partnership benefits both publishers and advertisers who pay the bills, this could be the start of a new and brighter future for both.

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