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A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdSense

Sure, affiliate marketing is an excellent way to monetize a web site or blog. It has the amazing benefit of not requiring stock, and in many cases it’s a set and forget strategy. Often though, many affiliates, including myself, will also run Google AdSense on their web sites.

Adsense is a nice alternative, or complimentary monetization strategy to affiliate marketing.

My income increases when using AdSense – my affiliate sales are unaffected

It used to be that I was afraid to “lose customers” when implementing Google AdSense on my affiliate sites, because when they click the AdSense ads they leave the web site. But test after test showed me that implementing AdSense often did not have any negative effect on affiliate commissions.

So, really all it did was boost my income and allowed me to distribute risk by having more than just one monetization strategy.

AdSense ads run in designated areas on your web site – advertisers pay Google to run ads there – but you get a cut

Many people still ask the question: what is Google AdSense, and how do I get started?

I am in the position where I run a multi-author WordPress news web site and one of the attractions is that we allow authors to include AdSense on their articles. Many though, it turns out, do not know what AdSense is and don’t know how to get setup.

First, let me explain as simply as possible what AdSense is. When advertisers pay Google to run ads (with the Google AdWords program), if they opt to show their ads on Google’s Display Network, then their ads will show up in the “AdSense slots” on participating web sites.

In many cases, the owner of the web site “owns” (in a sense) all of the Google AdSense ad slots. In the case of a multi-author web site, it could be that the owner allows a sharing of revenue. In that case, there could be several publisher AdSense as slots being displayed on a given web site.

You must “own” the web site used during the Google AdSense application process – but could run ads on other sites after acceptance

It used to be that you could submit an application to become an AdSense publisher, enter “any old web site” and in most cases get approved, ready to run ads on any other site of your choosing. Nowadays though, as I discovered, Google now has a second level of verification, complicating things a little more. The publisher must now prove that they own the web site that they intend to run ads on.

When I say “own the web site” that is sort of a loose statement. Many times, as long as the publisher has the ability to create AdSense ads (either through direct code access, or some sort of widget) he or she could make it through the second stage of AdSense approval. That’s not always the case though. Having the ability to add AdSense code to a web site doesn’t necessarily qualify you as the “owner.” And Google’s recent(ish) requirement is that the publisher must own the domain of the web site that they use during the application process. It’s only after approval where the publisher can run ads on different web sites.

If you know someone that owns a web site and will let you “piggyback” you *may* get through the application process. But after awhile, Google stops allowing certain domain names to be used during the application process. Because like I said, technically you must own the domain. It seems the goal is to have at least one web site for every AdSense publisher, and this is the way they attempt to make that happen.

Buy a cheap domain name and attach it to a free web site creation service and you qualify

Fortunately, it’s quite simple these days to “own your own domain name” and create your own web site. And this doesn’t have to be expensive either. You don’t really have to go the route of getting your own hosting and getting a web site built (although that can be super cheap, especially when using WordPress). Realistically you can get a domain for $10-$15 (for the year) through and build a free web site on (for example), attach your newly bought domain name to your newly created web site, and then you comply to the main rule of requiring your own domain name.

Be careful though when choosing a service. Some free web site tools, while they might allow you to attach a domain name to your site, you may not be able to run AdSense. hosted sites is an example of one where you cannot run AdSense ads. To keep it simple and cheap, I would suggest buying a domain from NameCheap, then setting up a quick free site with

From there, publish really awesome, high value, content on your new site. Aim for about 6-20 really good articles before applying. Be sure to include a contact and about page for a better chance of getting accepted.

Fortunately you can re-apply to AdSense if ever rejected. Follow the advice Google gives if you get rejected, then re-apply. If you applied with a domain that you can’t add AdSense code too, you still have the chance to re-apply with a different domain name/web site.

What types of ads show up in the ad slots, and how do I generate income from it?

Now, for those of you that are curious, and would like to know about what types of ads show up in the AdSense slots, I will cover that now.

Keep in mind that you are giving control of a certain portion of your web site to Google to do what it pleases. You have some control over appearance, size, etc. plus you have the ability to block ads. And you can decide if the ads are text, images or animated. There may be other kinds as well.

Now, as for what ads show up. There are a few different things that can happen. First, the traditional way is… Google will determine what the content surrounding the ad slot is about, and display a related ad. Another way is… Google will follow a visitor from site to site (using what are called cookies) and then run ads attempting to get those visitors *back* to a previously visited site. This is often called retargeting, and only happens when the owner of the previously visited site has paid to run retargeting-style ads on the Display Network. The final way is for advertisers to run ads in very specific ad slots, on very specific web pages, on very specific web sites. There may also be other ways. These are the only three that I am aware of.

Oh, and a key piece of information that I should have mentioned earlier on… you get paid when people click your ads (don’t click your own! Google will know) and you may get paid per impression (or multiple impressions) in some cases. I don’t know for certain. I just know that Google AdWords advertisers have the ability to choose a pay per click or pay per 1,000 impressions model when running their ads, but to my knowledge, the revenue share for AdSense follows just a pay-per-click model.

As far as I know, Google AdSense tracking is lacking

Tracking the performance of your AdSense ads is very limited. I haven’t looked too deep into tracking methods lately, so it may have improved, so take this information with a grain of salt (or whatever that saying is that doesn’t make much sense). In general, you create an “ad channel” and that will help you determine the performance of the ad (or ads) *attached” to that channel. Many sites allow you to embed AdSense in templates or widgets so usually the same ad is used on the entire site. Therefore, tracking on the site level is often what occurs. But, folks will often track on the ad slot/web site level as well.

You could get clever and manually create an ad and ad channel for every page on your site. This could get very cumbersome. There’s got to be a better way, and there probably is. I won’t research it now though, this is just an “intro” article after all.

Applying for an AdSense publisher account – use your Gmail account!

Now, to apply you will need to have your web site setup already (with your own domain name and content!). Then, using your Google account (i.e. Gmail or YouTube account) go through the app process.

After Google peeps at your site, it will let you know if it qualifies or not. If so, you just have to place your code. The code will initially be blank after placement on your site. Once an ad shows up, you know that your account is active. After your account is active you can create new ads to run on other sites

The app process could take anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks or longer. Just be patient and wait it out. Google sends emails through each phase so you will know where you’re at. If you don’t see an email for quite awhile it may have got lost. That happens. Have a peek in your AdSense account and you will see messages across the top indicating where you’re at in the process.

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