Google AdSense is often the monetization starting point for many new bloggers. It’s a tried and tested way to bring in some blogging revenue as it’s been around since 2003. In this post I’m going to outline the pros and cons of Google AdSense to help those thinking about taking their first tentative steps to monetize.
I’ll focus first on examining the pros of AdSense and why it’s popular for new bloggers. After this I’ll look at some of the cons and the reasons why it might not be something that works for you.
The Pros of Google AdSense
There are several benefits to using Google AdSense. The ones I highlight below are likely those that make AdSense most appealing to new bloggers.
“Relaxed” Entry Requirements
I use the term relaxed with caveats! What I mean to say is it’s easier for a new blogger to get approval for Google AdSense than it is for other revenue sharing ads programs such as Mediavine.
Officially you’ll need to meet the following criteria to lodge a successful application for the AdSense program:
- Must be 18 years and over
- Own your own site and be able to update it
- Have unique content on your blog
- Good usability and clear navigation on your blog
- Content topics that work within Google’s Publisher Policies
- No unapproved use of copyrighted content
- Use an approved language
- No misleading experiences for users.
Let’’s break some of these down.
Google AdSense Official Program Requirements
The Google AdSense program requires its members to be 18 years or above. This is pretty much a standard for many ad platforms.
Members must own their own blog and be able to update it. You can’t put your AdSense code onto a blog you don’t own and you must be able to update any blog where AdSense is to be added. You’ll need to be able to verify your blog through the AdSense system so if you can’t update it, you won’t get be able to verify it.
All content on your blog must be unique. Google will not approve blogs with a heavy reliance on duplicated content and will not accept scraped content at all. Blogs like these tend to be spammy and the AdSense system will reject applications from them.
Your blog should be user friendly and easy to navigate. Google will not align itself with any blog that doesn’t provide users with a good experience.
If you use copyrighted materials without the express permission of the copyright owner, it’s unlikely you’ll be accepted into the AdSense program.
Since AdSense ads are not published in all languages, the primary language in which your content is written must be one of those included.
Your AdSense application will not be approved if your blog delivers misleading practices that break Google Webmaster Guidelines, such as phishing, malware or visitor manipulation.
Google AdSense Unofficial Program Requirements
There are also some unofficial criteria, which although not acknowledged by Google, do seem to be true according to substantial anecdotal evidence.
- Domain / blog age
- Key pages
New blogs often don’t get approved. There’s no official requirement to have an aged domain, but many new domains with no history and little content often don’t get approved.
In a way, this makes sense.
Would you accept someone into a membership program where money was at stake if you didn’t know a little about the person beforehand?
Following on from this is traffic. Ad impressions mean an opportunity for Google to make money. Google wants the ads it displays in its content network to be profitable for its:
- Publishers (Google AdSense members)
- And Google itself
Most new blogs don’t get much traffic. As a consequence, why would Google want to waste ad impressions on blogs that don’t enjoy many visitors?
As a general rule it’s wise to put some time between your domain registration and your application for an AdSense account. This will give you time to beef up your content portfolio, age your domain a little and build up some traffic.
Finally, most AdSense gurus I know recommend setting up key pages on your blog:
- About us
- Terms and Conditions
- Contact us
These pages provide key information about you and show that you’re not a fly-by-night blogger. As such they may help Google to view your blog as a bonafide prospect.
Easy to Set Up
Because AdSense is very easy to set up it’s appealing to new bloggers considering monetization perhaps for the first time.
It’s straightforward to create a Google AdSense account: all you have to do is submit details about yourself, add some code to your blog and set up payment information.
Google will verify your details and either accept or decline your application, which usually takes a few days up to a couple of weeks.
How to Apply to the Google AdSense Program
Find out how to create a Google AdSense Account in this simple tutorial.
One you’ve been accepted into the program, it’s simple to include AdSense ads into your posts and pages.
The system supplies you with code that you add to your blog and Google takes care of the rest.
It’s super easy to set up… I’ve written a tutorial for this to explain the process for WordPress bloggers: How to Add Google AdSense to WordPress.
Easy to Customize Ads
AdSense provides many options for you to customize ads to fit the needs of your blog.
You can opt to display responsive ads that adjust to the device and browser your visitors use. This means ads display elegantly on mobile, tablet or Web browsers without you having to do anything fancy with CSS.
It’s also possible to customize ads with your blog’s color scheme and font. You simply choose the options you’d like that fit with your blog’s design and branding.
The beauty of customizing how ads appear is you can make them fit seamlessly into your blog without disrupting look and feel.
Customizing ads in this way helps them to blend into your content, which is important. When you integrate ads into your content in an elegant way, they tend to encourage engagement… which earns you money.
The Cons of Google AdSense
As with most monetization methods, there are some disadvantages of using AdSense ads.
Low Payment Rates
Google AdSense is a revenue sharing system. Advertisers pay Google for ad impressions or clicks. Google pays you around 68% of what the advertiser pays and pockets the rest.
However, that doesn’t mean it amounts to huge incomes. AdSense is well known for not having the highest payouts, but that’s a blessing and a curse for those new to monetization.
It’s a blessing because it’s one of the reasons Google is less stringent about the criteria for joining the program itself. Some higher paying ad platforms tend to attract higher paying advertisers and as a result applications for participating publishers (i.e. you) are more stringent.
It’s a curse because… well, AdSense doesn’t pay that much by comparison!
Some people have reported that Google has shut down their AdSense accounts without warning. This normally happens if Google suspects an AdSense account owner of trying to game the system or they’ve broken the terms and conditions of the program.
When account closure occurs, Google withholds payment of any owed monies. Not such a problem if you’re only earning $3 a month, but a considerably big deal if your earning $3k per month plus.
Obviously you need to understand Google AdSense policies and follow them to the letter to ensure you’re not doing anything that breaches the conditions of the AdSense program.
Your Blog Can Appear Spammy
This is a bit of a generalization so let me explain in more detail.
Have you ever been to a blog and been hit by popup ads, popunder ads and display ads all over the page?
It ain’t pretty.
Some bloggers pepper their blogs with so many ads that the visitor experience becomes poor. Blogs that use too many ads tend to look spammy and may cause visitors to leave soon after landing on your pages.
Ads can also slow down page load speeds, which can impact SEO rankings and further impact the visitor experience.
A spammy appearance and slow page load may impact your bounce rate.
You need to find a balance between using Google AdSense ads and maintaining the value that visitors experience.
Unfortunately there’s a tendency for new bloggers to go crazy with ads. The negative effect of this can be that visitors simply leave to go somewhere else where they won’t be so overwhelmed with advertising.
A Summary of the Pros and Cons of Google AdSense
AdSense is undoubtedly one of the starting points of monetization for new bloggers.
It appeals to many new bloggers because it’s:
- Relatively easy to be approved into the program
- Simple to set up
- Easy to integrate into your blog’s branding and layout
But it’s not without some cons:
- It doesn’t pay as much as some other ad platforms
- Overuse makes your blog appear spammy and slow it down, which can turn visitors off.
There are many pros to Google AdSense and it’s a great system for cutting your teeth if you’re trying to make money from blogging. But it’s not without it’s drawbacks.
As with most things, it’s worth testing, especially if you’ve never tried displaying ads on your blog before.
That’s all for now.
What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of Google AdSense? I’m interested in learning about your experiences in the comments below.